Agile Scapegoating and People over Process

Last week James Shore posted an article The Decline and Fall of Agile that generated quite a bit of discussion. He points out many of atrocities and failures in software development and software project management done under guise of “Agile” or “Scrum” are often not true implementations. You have these teams who say they are doing Scrum, but the only things that actually get adopted are sprints and scrums. So many of these failed groups ignore the important and difficult aspects of Scrum like self-organization, shippable product goals, and self-reflection & improvement. As Jason says, they are “having their dessert every night and skipping their vegetables.”

Ken Schwaber replied to Jason’s article:

When Scrum is mis-used, the results are iterative, incrementa​l death marches. This is simply waterfall done more often without any of the risk mitigation techniques or people and engineerin​g practices needed to make Scrum work.

The article also sparked Bob Martin to write an essay “Dirty Rotten ScrumDrels” in response to some of the Scrum scapegoating that has been going on recently. Check out the comments for some Uncle Bob-Shore dialog.

Things like self-reflection and process and work reviews are all practices that people naturally adopt to improve themselves. I think successful developers tend to do this anyways in order to stay ahead of the curve. When you have mediocre teams flailing about who are looking for a silver bullet and turn to things like Scrum who don’t already do this sort of thing, it is easy for them to brush that off as a triviality; if they haven’t already seen the value of it, it just gets lost in the noise.

I share Mr. Shore’s frustration in seeing Agile and Scrum being blamed for the shortcomings of teams and improper implementations, when you’ve seen the real thing work over and over.

Protosprout : Promoting Entrepreneurship & Start-Up Culture in North Carolina

A couple of weeks ago I emerged from my development trance and decided to venture back out into the wilds of the Triangle entrepreneurial scene. The timing worked out so that I could trek out to Raleigh earlier this month to attend the inaugural Protosprout Community Program Meeting.

Protosprout ( http://protosprout.com ) is a NC-based company founded by Justis Peters that is looking to bring local entrepreneurs together and foster an energized, start-up community. I think it was a successful first meeting. Justis pulled folks together and lead some interesting and informal discussions including how the community could work together to provide support and value to one another. Ideas included things like skill and service bartering, community forums, general networking, official Protosprout mentorship and startup programs. A local skill bartering system would be great for a lot of startups ( ala programmer meets designer ) as would a tighter knit community for bouncing ideas off of or even testing your prototypes.

Part of the evening included time for pitching your startups and Q&A. Even Wayne Sutton got up and pitched an idea. I’ll take a moment to mention one really cool company that pitched: Durham TechShop ( http://www.durham.techshop.ws )

The TechShop will be a a DIY workshop with a slew of tools and machines for any number of tasks ( electronics, woodworking, plastics, machining, welding, 3d printing, even blacksmithing! ). They’ll offer classes so that you can get certified to use the various tools and then you’re off to create whatever you want. I am really excited to see this in action, so all you folks with checkbooks contact Scott Saxon over at the TechShop and get this puppy funded!

I met a lot of interesting people that night and look forward to attending the next Protosprout meeting. You should check it out over at http://protosprout.com . I think Justis is doing a great job getting this organized.

You can also follow Protosprout on Twitter ( http://twitter.com/protosprout )