Agile is a wasteland. Don’t believe me? Read Kent’s Beck(Creator of Extreme Programing) article. IMHO Agile has been in decay since 2013. However, Agile become mainstream since 2000; in Brazil, agile become mainstream in 2015, more or less. Success means misuse. The demand for agile is very high in some countries like Brazil and quite inexistent in Europe and the USA(mainly Silicon valley). Scrum has often sold dogma and easy answers with easy certifications. Scrum is really a big part of agile being mainstrain and also why it is such a shit show. There is so much demand in some places and literally very few people who really understand the software and digital products which greats a very complicated environment. So having said that, should we drop agile completely? Well, in some sense, yes. Things we just do because of Dogma and we dont understand and really dont add value should be dropped 100%. However, would all problems just go away?
There are great principles and values in agile. However, most people dont know them and are stuck into pointless old and not effective practices. There is no value in adopting something you dont understand, to deliver something you dont want. Most companies still just care about features and meeting deadlines. Agile will not help you with that. At the same time, Scrum books are named: “The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”. People and companies look for agile because they want to deliver more with less cost, which was never the case. However, at the same time, if you end up reducing waste by focusing on the right value, you will be saving costs, but it does not work in the way you think it does. Traditional management made us here so far, but I’m 100% sure it will not make us go much longer. Companies need to be transformed for more focus on innovation, product and customer-centric, and great technology. However, is the cure worst than the diseases? In several cases, the cure looks worse than the disease because people who have no idea what they are doing and why they are doing it will not do anything better.
Agile Coach — Friend or Foe
A great Agile Coache can do great things however our industry, especially in Brazil, is saturated with people that will not ever deliver what companies expect. There are so many bad Scrum Masters and Agile Coachs that this obfuscates the good and serious ones. Coach is considered to be a Scan in Brazil. A great coach means someone that knows the principles of Lean and Agile very well and understands software very well and the product and people very well. Right now, the best thing we have is called Engineering Managers. Again this is not just a matter of names and roles, but what do you expect from these people and how you hire them. Engineering Managers can suck too. Right now, I dont think the rate of engineering managers is as bad as the Agile coachs / Scrum Masters that suck. Part of the issue is the fact that hiring is completely broken.
Tech issues and Talent
So let’s just Drop Agile and be Happy. The issue is you still will have problems to solve, such as:
* How do you know you are building the right things?
* How do you know you are building it right?
* How do you develop your customers?
* How do you develop your people?
* How do you make people more effective?
* How do we handle tech debt effectively?
* How do we change the company to always improve?
All these challenges will not go away with you. Drop agile. It’s 100% fine to drop agile, don’t get me wrong. At the end of the day, what matters is to improve and fix problems, write better software, and make your users happy, which, believe me, or not, was exactly the goal of the agile manifesto early days.
Companies know this, but still, they do nothing about it because of COST reasons. The big increasing factor in this equation is the Pool of Talent. It’s hard to retain & attract people, especially with the wrong compensation and lack of good technical challenges, and poor culture. During Covid-19 times, everybody is working remotely; there is no difference if you work for a company in your neighborhood or on the other side of the Globo. So why get the worst option? Just because you already with a Job? Lack of talent pool ends with disturbing the force and putting too much emphasis on the process. Agile turns to be a nasty process nowadays. The more process you need, the worse is your talent pool.
Business Move: Product, Marketing and HR
Lots of these problems are Business problems. They need to be fixed and addressed at the Business level. Thats why lately, Agile made a shift to also work with HR, Marketing, and Business Leaders. This is hard and difficult, but thats the heart of the problem. HR problems are easier to be fixed, Marketing problems are not so easy, but they can be fixed. Business leaders are the hard one since nature involves lots of politics, ego, and poker skills. IDK if Busines Agile will succeed. I hope it does. The fact is Agile needs to target the business, especially Product and Business Leaders.
Culture: Never Ending Cycle
People Come and Go. Companies get created and sold all the time. People enter and leave the industry. The world does not stop changing, 2020 with the COVID-19 show us disruption can happen at any moment and change everything. A Company’s ability to survive and adapt is critical in modern times we leave. Company culture comes and goes as people change. This is a never-ending game. Agile was sexy 20 years ago. Now it sucks because people made it suck. The same goes for everything. Do people remember how Docker was cool in 2015? However, the problems might never go away. One thing it is important and always will be is Effective Learning. IMHO Agile was about Effective Learning. We can call it whatever we want and do whatever, but nothing will change the fact that if we dont learn effectively, we never will improve, and we will never break out of this cycle.
Originally published at http://diego-pacheco.blogspot.com on November 28, 2020.