Monday, June 22, 2015

Insincerity and Process

I read a lot of disappointed tweets, reddit posts, etc about agile development processes, especially since the whole Take Back Agile thing started.

There is an honest perception that all of agile development is disingenuous, deceptive, insincere.

I build my own perceptions on my own history and observations, too. I have to be reminded that we all experience life differently. As a consultant, I have seen all the dysfunctions that others have seen, but I have also seen agile projects done well.

When I talk about the joys of TDD , it conflicts strongly with others' experience of forcing test coverage numbers.

When I talk about pair programming and mob programming, it conflicts strongly with their experience of freeloading peers or "in cubicle-audits."

When I talk about BDD, it conflicts with their experience of tail-end test automation.

When I talk about using Big Visible Charts to aid focus, it conflicts with their experiences of managers using charts to embarrass, blame, or otherwise coerce people to work harder.

When I talk about self-organizing, it conflicts with their experiences of people dodging responsibility, of managers assigning tasks, and frequently of the dubious practice of ranking developers.

Having experienced heavily Tayloristic "faux agile" processes that clearly contradict the principles of the agile doctrine(s), they see the entire Agile Manifesto as a tissue of lies -- a con game used to trick developers into accepting a process that does not favor or benefit them. It looks like a lie.

It seems that lousy fake-agile processes are an effective inoculation against real agile.

Neither the naysayers nor the pundits I know are being dishonest. We are just talking past each other because our experiences are different.

Most people (managers and developers alike) need one good experience of "real agile" with openness and transparency and the safety it provides, and they'll change their mind about the whole game.

Barring that one good experience, Agile will continue to be the word that represents the oppressive, dystopian experience they've had so far and all the pro-human statements of the manifesto will be nothing more than bait-and-switch advertising.

I'm sorry that it's come to that. How can I help?