Scrum Notes 2013-20

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Agile is Real—a small lament ▶️

Fairies exist, but you have to believe in them to see them. Children believe in fairies so they see them, they talk to them, they experience magic. Adults don't believe, so cannot see, and yet they want to, hence all the fake photographs from Victorian times. The non-believers invent a thing that's already real to convince other non-believers that it really is real, even though they don't believe it themselves. But oh, they so want to!

Agile is real too. But Agile, as witnessed, is not very different from any previous, coercive, controlling approach to work. Its implementation is inevitably 'rolled out' in top-down fashion, rather than grown from the ground up. Agile still has a reliance on higher-paid people leading lower-paid people. It's been made so complicated that it takes armies of consultants to make it happen (and the "it" here is something that's almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Agile). People are still measured, rated and rewarded, like show dogs. And short-term profit still rules the corporate empire.

It's not that Agile is bad. It isn't. It's beautiful. Scrum is uplifting. Kanban is remarkable. XP is amazing. And they are all real. It's just that these ideas somehow, repeatedly, get lost between learning and implementation, as if, like fairies, the ideas are too intangible, too imaginary to be caught, too fantastic to believe in. So we fake it. We say, aha! this is like that, and we continue doing the familiar that while calling it this. And we show our faked photographs to the world and say, look, Agile is real.

Agile is real, but few really believe it; even fewer actually see it.

London, 09/01/2017   comment