Agile is dead! Oh, really?

Jan 30, 2015 · 4 min read

If we treat Agile in a fetish way, then it is a real rubbish and does not work as promised, because it is not a magic wand. Such misunderstood Agile is really a stiff corpse. The fossilized Agile, focused on excessive formalism and blind adherence to regimens, does not guarantee success.

There is no reason to blindly follow a designated path, especially if it is hidden behind some — authority that is an absolute oracle. Agile is aimed at efficiency and at the minimization of the costs of energy and time. Then what if Scrum does not work? Or if taking care of the process needs more time and energy than the very process? There are two explanations: either you’re doing it wrong, or you don’t need it and better look for something else. The blind faith that software development projects are only effective with Scrum, is just a misunderstanding which may result in problems. These problems deny the Agile methodologies entirely. From this point of view, there’s a simple way to preaching prophecies about the dying or already dead Agile.

What are the causes of these ominous prognostics? Certainly, there are many, but I find in my mind a very typical reason — a phenomenon called fetishisation.

What is a fetish? A fetish is something that has a special power which can change reality. Everything can be a fetish — a thing, an artefact, an animal, a human being, an ideology, and at last, methodology as well. To believe in a fetish means that if you use it (by calling, by invoking, by performing some special behaviours or acts), you will be rewarded by obtaining your wishes. So, you believe that these special things have a power to serve you. You do not have to work hard, you do not need to look for new solutions — it’s enough if you have a strong belief in this power and everything will be alright. Of course, it’s a false statement. And as long as your faith is strong and the fetish coincidentally works well, you are its faithful worshipper.

But what if something goes wrong? What if you say your mantra and the miracle doesn’t come true? Maybe your spells are inefficient? If you are fetishised, you think that there’s something wrong with the fetish and you must choose another one, or your spells are weak. You don’t look through the matter of facts searching for the real causes of the failure. You content yourself at the level of semantics. Sometimes faith is blind, and you will keep to it as a martyr until you die. In software development it couldn’t happen: in IT there’s no afterlife, so sacrifice doesn’t make sense in any way.

Some people think that Agile needs their devotion, but in fact Agile needs agility in use, not only declaration. Less fetish, more activity, less rituals, more spirit, less faith, more knowledge and self-awareness. Do you remember these notorious words: “By their fruit you will recognize them”? A good gardener takes care of his trees, not only prays for a good harvest.

Prophecy about Agile’s death is as scary as this vintage zombie guys above

Uncle Bob Martin said: “Extreme Programming succeeded! It succeeded because it outlived even its own name”. So, naming is secondary, the principle is what we do and how we really do it. No matter what we call the methodology we use, if we use it and if it works well, it’s okay. You’d be surprised if you knew how many projects are managed according to the spirit of Agile, but nobody calls them Agile. Sometimes we call our activity using words as Scrum, Agile or (like years ago) Extreme Programming. And sometimes we confine ourselves to the level of words and magic spells. As one Polish writer said: tea does not become sweeter just by the mixing. So, you will not be agile if you only talk about how agile you are. There are no easy hacks, it’s a process of continuous improvement, searching for new considerations, flexibility in operation, alertness and solving problems at their source — not by casting magical charms.

It’s true that we’ve wasted so much energy making the “Agile hype” that a lot of people are already bored. Thus Agile seems to many people to get out of fashion. “False prophets” predict theses about the “death of Agile”. In fact, the weak and false so-called Agile is dying, but this corresponds with the general Agile philosophy: to eliminate bad solutions and bad practices.

So, reports of Agile’s death have been greatly exaggerated …and there’s no reason to be scared of zombies.

You can find more about the Agile mythology in the article by Jaroslaw Kroczek “Several facts and myths about Agile”.

Written by Leszek Pietrzkiewicz

Originally published at

We are Agile Software House focused on PHP/Symfony, JavaScript, Java and Mobile.


    Written by

    Agile Software House focused on PHP/Symfony, Java, JavaScript and Mobile.

    XSolve Blog

    We are Agile Software House focused on PHP/Symfony, JavaScript, Java and Mobile.

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