Business People Usually Throw Good Money After Bad in Agile

I’m writing this blog to issue a Protective Warning: You’re probably wasting a lot of money on agile coaching, training, facilitating and consulting.
People attempt to do Agile transformations on their company quite often nowadays.
Unfortunately, they fall victim to consultants who do not share their interests.  -Especially large, well-known consulting firms are the worst offenders.

Agile has a kind of paradox that frustrates employers from capturing the business value that is often touted in business newspapers, magazines, online articles, whitepapers, blogs and golf course conversations.  Here’s what the misunderstanding is all about: you can’t make your people be or do Agile, because part of Agile is the freedom to choose to be great.

Martin Fowler, signatory of the Agile Manifesto
Martin Fowler, signatory of the Agile Manifesto

I cannot claim this as my own idea.  Here are 4 quotes from one of the signatories (originators) of the Agile Manifesto, which is the founding document of the agile movement, Martin Fowler, from as far back as 2006:
“Drifting around the web I’ve heard a few comments about agile methods being imposed on a development team by upper management. Imposing a process on a team is completely opposed to the principles of agile software, and has been since its inception.”

“An important consequence of these values and principles is that a team should choose its own process – one that suits the people and context in which they work. Imposing an agile process from the outside strips the team of the self-determination which is at the heart of agile thinking.”

“But agile methods aren’t the best for all situations, and personally I’d rather have a team work in a non-agile manner they chose themselves than have my favorite agile practices imposed upon them.”

“There’s nothing that can be done to prevent the agile name being applied to very un-agile behaviors – there’s no agile police enforcing RigorousAgile. All we can do is for those of us who care to keep trying to explain what agile is really about. And I prefer to explain than convince.”

The most pressing challenge facing the agile industry today is: Coercion in the workplace masquerading as ‘Agile.’  I think the near

Mike Beedle, Signatory of the Agile Manifesto, Founder of Enterprise Scrum, author of Agile Software Development with Scrum

100% tolerance for imposed Agile is a big huge problem, and it is by far the biggest issue facing the Agile industry today.

Why would you go to such expense and effort to change what’s already working for you, only to discover first-hand that Agile doesn’t help or improve your bottom line like most people say?
I’m not telling you how to manage your people.  It’s your company after all.  You (not consultants or coaches) have to deal with the outcome.  -You’ve got employees who are at-will, and need to make a living just as your company needs to make money.

However, I’m offering you this information, as a free-service, to prevent you from being financially taken advantage of, based on a false-perception of what Agile is or is not.

There are very few agile thought leaders, to my knowledge (and I’ve been actively researching the writings and statements of agile thought leaders for several years now) who will tell you as plainly as Martin Fowler does, above.  Mike Beedle would be the only other signatory I know of, who has taken a public stand on this issue.
Whoever referred you to this specific blog entry is probably trying to help you.  I’d listen to what they’re trying to say if I were in your position.

Good luck with your business.

Jon Jorgensen
President, Needle Hop, Inc.

3 thoughts on “Business People Usually Throw Good Money After Bad in Agile

  • Daily stand-ups do not make you “more agile” by definition. Coding to the right abstractions and having test coverage does. Yet, how many people start “Agile Transformations” with “Clean Code”?

    • Jon Jorgensen

      Thank you for this insight, Tim. I haven’t seen a scenario yet, of the dozens of “Agile Transformations” I’ve been involved with, or the hundreds I’ve discussed with practitioners and potential clients, where “Clean Code” is the starting point. My perspective is that the right abstractions and test coverage is the pathway by which organizations travel towards the “North Star” of Clean Code and Agile. I welcome your future comments and insights, Tim.

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