"Delivering uncommon results in software culture"

Agile called out

(This is a four part blog addressing Processes and Tools within Software Culture. This first part discusses our past and its relationship to the Agile Manifesto. Part II can be found here.)

Are we still trying to fix Individuals & Interactions with Processes & Tools? 

Eleven years ago, some guys got together and proposed that our Software Development industry could be getting better results.
They thought we'd lost our way… 
Based upon their personal experiences, they suggested adjusting our values to achieve better results.
And, perhaps not so oddly, they began that list by valuing "Individuals & Interactions over Processes and Tools.

Even today, the topic of people in software creation is as relevant as ever – perhaps our most important topic. But despite making the claims of the Manifesto, are we still failing in the same predictable ways? It seems like discussion groups are still intensely debating the Tools that help us do our work, but we still seem to have our usual aversion to talking about Individuals & Interactions… 

Surely if we valued Individuals & Interactions (over processes & tools,) we'd be talking more about them, right? And here's something else I'm most curious about over a decade after the manifesto… 

Does claiming that you're Agile guarantee superior Individuals & Interactions? 

I see Agile practitioners debating and touting Processes & Tools – just as guilty as "those other guys". It also seems that they are failing just as miserably with their own Individuals & Interactions. Evidently, claiming that you're Agile doesn't exempt you from our industry stereotype – so perhaps we should quit hiding behind institutional names (Agile, Waterfall, SCRUM, Kanban, Lean and all their hybrids) and have some engaged discussions about what these Professional Skills actually mean.

But we don't. 

Instead, we prefer to engage in narrow religious debates over the definitions of our names; comparing our particular camps and the minutia of our denominations. We wax lyrical over our tools and "best-practices" while our clients and users still suffer and still ridicule us from the sidelines. 

Making the claim of Agile practitioner is no different than a developer starting a business, slapping on the title of President and believing that the skills of Leadership, Sales & Marketing will magically descend from the heavens and imbue you. 

Adopting institutional labels does not excuse you from bad behavior nor does it create new skills and habits.

Agile affords us an expectation that things will be better but it's still about WHAT you practice. That's more important than certifications, institutional camps or letters after your name. I've yet to see a certification for practicing Common Sense, Exercising Good Judgement or Paying Attention. I wish there were. Because that's what good Individuals & Interactions skills are… (Not to mention the simple art of driving…)

If you're still replacing Individuals & Interactions with Processes & Tools chances are you're not Agile. 





About the Author
I’ve had the good fortune to travel and work internationally. I’ve also had the good fortune to have grown up in New Zealand and have lived the American “immigrant experience” for more than half of my life. I’ve also had an unorthodox musical journey that led me to and kept me in Kansas City. Music, IT and travel became partners along the way helping me appreciate multiple worldviews and the concepts of cross-disciplinary approaches to life and work. My non-conventional experiences reflect my meanderings about this interesting occupational field. The beauty of having been in IT for 30 years is that our solutions become predictably cyclic while our problems remain the same. Culture is a topic I’m rather obsessive about. I firmly believe that it will help to usher in a renaissance in American business – oddly enough in the hands of IT.
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