The Agile Imposition Revisited

Here are some verbatim statements from actual Agile Manifesto signatories, about the dangers and futility of imposing Agile practices on teams without their consent: 






“…Imposing an agile process from the outside strips the team of the self-determination which is at the heart of agile thinking.”
-Martin Fowler




“… imposing agile methods introduces a conflict with the values and principles that underlie agile methods.”
-Martin Fowler




“…I’d rather have a team work in a non-agile manner they chose themselves than have my favorite agile practices imposed upon them.”
-Martin Fowler




“…You know as well as I do that if the team really doesn’t want to use a methodology, IT WON’T WORK. (emphasis added.) Let them make their own assessment.” -Jeff Sutherland and co-authors, POWER OF SCRUM book, page 31 (page 37 in earlier versions)




“…[A leader’s] responsibility is to make clear to the team that THEY should be in control of their own work processes, and show them how to do that.” -POWER OF SCRUM book, page 31 (page 37 in earlier versions)




“…So I hope I’ve made clear that imposing agile methods is a very red flag. ”-Martin Fowler, Agile Manifesto signatory. Written 2006, the “Agile Imposition” blog post, Martin Fowler




These are protective warnings from Agile Manifesto signatories. These warning continue to be largely ignored by the Agile coaching community as a whole.



For good measure, and to add strong support for the story I am telling, here are some additional quotes from genuine thought leaders in community-building, organizational development and management science:



“Transformation occurs through choice, not mandate. Invitation is the call to create an alternative future. What is the invitation we can make to support people to participate and own the relationships, tasks, and process that lead to success?”

-Peter Block: COMMUNITY: THE STRUCTURE OF BELONGING (Arguably one of the most brilliant thinkers of our time on organizations and organizational development.)





Transformations can’t be accomplished without others helping voluntarily, & people don’t help unless you engage them first.
-Geoffrey Moore, ZONE TO WIN. (Arguably one of the greatest management minds of our time.)





Those in favor of push, coercion and top-down authoritative imposition of Agile practices on teams can’t say anything in defense that makes any sense.



The fact is that imposition makes no sense whatsoever if you are optimizing on genuine transformations over mere transactions.



I  mean, Martin Fowler is saying as much in those quotes. Who wants to take the other side of his argument?

Answer: NO ONE. 

Yet PUSH and IMPOSITION remains the de facto standard in “enterprise Agile adoptions” today !

What gives here?