My first real experience with Agile came when I joined a big corporate on an incredibly fractured team. 23 people from 12 consulting firms, protecting their SLAs at all costs… not quite the recipe for collaboration. The project was already in its 3rd year of “failure” and the heat was on!
And then an Agile Coach joined our team. I was a very small cog in a very big machine, and yet I had a front row seat in watching how this team transformed. We started having authentic conversations, learning together, taking risks and responsibility and delivering! How I would see teams, projects and systems was forever changed – now I knew what was possible. This was AGILE!
I’ve had many incredible years working in various Agile-related roles since then. I’m so grateful for how Agile has shifted the conversations around work and people. However, this year I’ve decided to walk away from Agile for a while…
It feels like in so many spaces the conversation has turned from the values we held to a semi-fundamentalist pursuit of practices, from the problems to solve to the ideals to achieve. Maybe some of these experiences sound familiar:
- The other day I saw a fight on Twitter about whether it’s ok for standups to be longer than 15 minutes. [stares blankly at screen].
- I’ve seen people personally attacked for views they hold around Agile topics. [admits to skipping a retro and cringes at the backlash if Twitter knew].
- C-suite often seem to have very strange misconceptions about what we’re aiming for in their organisations. [holds her breath at the start of yet another estimations conversation].
- I sometimes (dare I say often) meet Agile Coaches whose work and outlook make me not want to associate with the word Agile. [wonders what’s happening in the industry].
Many developers are crying out against Agile and I wonder how many times we can blame that on poor coaching or misinformed leadership. I’d like to emphasise here that I still believe there is so much goodness in Agile. I just find myself wondering what else is going on? When did we become this?
Now this sentence might be even more controversial but here goes… I hope we’re not doing to Agile what many institutions have done to spirituality, putting so much ritual, law and even financial incentive around it that we forget why we came to it in the first place.
So why did you first come to Agile? Maybe every once in a while we can put Agile down for a bit and just pursue those things… I hope so, that’s what I’m off to do.