Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An End To Dueling Strawmen?

I'm not the first to ask this, but here is a suggestion:

Let's end the nonsense of straw man arguments in agile discussions.

I heard it again today:

"I don't see Agile as a silver bullet for all software development problems in the world." 
Of course you don't. Nor do the people you're arguing with/against. Nobody believes that switching to XP or Scrum will make everything trivially easy and prevent every kind of design issue or organizational dynamic or schedule interruption possible.

I think we can drop that rhetorical device now.

Next steps when most people use that device tend to be:
* reject the insufficient miracle ("if it doesn't do everything, we shouldn't use it")
* take a piecemeal view ("if it is not everything, then integrity of the parts is unimportant")
* use it to declare their superiority ("I am not the fool that you are")

Let's not understate the depth and integrity and value of a thing just because it's not perfect.

But let's not stop there. Let's hit up the agilists for a favor too...

Not using & supporting agile doesn't mean that your opponent supports the worst dehumanizing death marches that waterfall has to offer.  Offering "well, it's better than waterfall" is an equal and opposite straw man argument. Nobody desires a bad waterfall implementation with brutal management and enslaved developers. That was never a goal, even though (in agile and waterfall implementations) it sometimes has happened.

I think both of those mechanisms are tired and trite and unconvincing. Most of us in the business have been through the argument dozens of times.

The world is much bigger than a simple process dichotomy.

Can we put the straw men down, walk away from arguing, and get back to trying to understand and help each other now?