Agile BS: The Productization of Agile

There is a preponderance of BS in and around the Agile community right now. Scrum has become productized, and ‘agile enablement’ firms touting that ‘agile is all we do’ are selling one or another variety of snake oil. Boston is a place where this is especially acute.

David Anderson, a guy who wrote a book called Kanban, is calling this out, and he is not alone. He spells it out here:

There is an initial assessment or appraisal…then some proposed future state envisaged…the new future state process is designed and it becomes the target outcome for the transition that is introduced and managed through the change management process.

This is a traditional 20th Century approach to change. It offers the reassurance of a defined outcome, and the outcome is envisaged either using a prescription from a text book, or by utilizing a model and designing a solution. The issue with this is that it assumes the problem exists in the complicated domain…

…It is ironic that the approach to Agile transitions has been a very non- Agile, big design up-front, make and follow a plan, approach. The fact that many Agile transitions are challenged and underperforming (and I’ve been saying this for at least 5 years now) may be that the approach being used is inappropriate to the domain of the problem. What we need is an Agile approach to change – an approach that incorporates feedback loops and evolves as new information emerges.

(See the full blog post here)

Andy Singleton, a friend of mine in Boston who makes great tools for distributed teams, is also on to something also, when he writes:

Pair programming:  Great for vendors, bad for customers.  Pair programming is like those girls that go to the restaurant bathroom together.  What are they doing?  If you are a vendor selling “pairs”, you have an awesome situation where you can charge twice as much, and you can easily churn guys on and off the pairs, one at a time, to steal talent for turnover or new projects.  If you are customer, you pay twice as much and you get churn.

(See the full blog post here.)

These writing from these two gentlemen are pointing to the productization of Agile. It’s a sad state of affairs that appears to be encouraged by the Scrum Alliance and the Agile Alliance.

Organizations need to think for themselves and be responsible for their own learning. Each firm must create a custom solution from practices that are based on solid principles. David Anderson and Andy Singleton are on to something. One size does not fit all.

The productization of Agile is happening now. The message is: one size fits all.

And it’s all BS.