Agile is for losers…

…real men embrace agility.

The development world seems to be full of ‘Agile’ pretenders. If you were to object to my saying that ” there is no such thing as ‘Agile’ ” then I’m sorry to say that there’s a reasonable chance that you too fall into this category. Let me explain…

There is no ‘Agile manifesto’. There is a ‘Manifesto for agile software development’, which lays out some general principles which one might like to follow in order to help them develop software with agility. Of course it seems entirely reasonable to shorten ‘agile software development’ to simply ‘agile’, but herein lies the same problem we see in many other aspects of our day to day lives – words are allowed to be abused and end up losing any sense of meaning. Worse still they end up meaning something entirely different than they did to start with – for example, the word ‘trolling’ as is commonly used in the mainstream media these days has almost no resemblance to its original meaning. We’ve lost a useful word. The ‘agile’ community has suffered an even worse fate as the word ‘agile’, across sweeping parts of the industry, no longer has any relation to the concept of agility. Not only have we lost a useful word – we’ve managed to pervert the philosophy of agile software development as it is understood in many people’s minds.

We’ve reduced agility to mindless process, wrapped up in a pretty new vocabulary. An alert mind will spot the obvious paradox and endeavour to educate themselves to correct their misunderstandings. A keen but less alert mind will suffer the pain of contradiction and endure the inevitable failure (or at least a hefty dose of strife) as long as it takes them to realise that something is wrong; At which point they will deduce either that ‘Agile’ is a fraud, or that they too need to educate themselves so that they might do it properly.

A worrying but very common (in my experience, at least) trend is that of a third kind of mind. This mind persists in having faith that such a prescriptive process (invariably involving moving cards around a board) followed obediently, despite it’s apparently voodoo nature, will yield some kind of magical gain in productivity. These people suffer just like the other 2 kinds I’ve mentioned – but this time they are doomed to forever suffer the pain caused by trying to resolve contradictions, thanks to their stubborn belief in magic.

So, lets see if you’re an agile pretender …

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