Modern Agile: Reminds me of a Strip Club


InfoQ recently posted an article about something called “Modern Agile” (I guess they couldn’t call it Agile Agile, or Extreme Agile) and it takes an already loosey-goosey concept to new heights of vapor-process.

Agile is modernizing. Thanks to Lean and Agile pioneers and practitioners, we now have simpler, safer, speedier ways to achieve awesome results.

While that sounds like the tag line for a vibrator rather than a software development process, what really got me was this statement:

Modern Agile has no roles, responsibilities or anointed practices.

In other words, Modern Agile is, well, nothing.  Nothing that provides you with any intelligent, meaningful, concrete suggestion for how to go about building software.

Instead, it has four guiding principles:

  1. Make People Awesome
  2. Deliver Value Continuously
  3. Make Safety a Prerequisite
  4. Experiment and Learn Rapidly

Why am I reminded of an adult entertainment club?

But back to software development.  First, can we, as professionals, please stop using the word “awesome?”

Awesome: extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.

Riiight.  That’s something to aspire to, eh?  Like I want (even if I could) make my peers into something that fills me with apprehension or fear.  You can’t make other people awesome, they have to figure out how to be awesome.  And given negative aspects of that definition, I’m not sure I want to go down that path.

Continuous: continuing without stopping : happening or existing without a break or interruption

Really?  If I were a customer receiving uninterrupted software updates, I would be yelling “STOP! DELIVER A USEFUL SET OF IMPROVEMENTS THAT WORKS, NOT CONSTANT TINY CHANGES.”  The exception might be a critical bug fix, but as a customer, I do NOT want to be inundated with constant software updates.

Value: usefulness or importance

There you go.  Continuous value is sort of an oxymoron, especially when what is valuable in a software delivery is often something different for each stake-holder.

Safety: the state of not being dangerous or harmful

And Modern Agile, being a vapor-process, is sooo good at explaining exactly how that’s done.

Experiment: a scientific test in which you perform a series of actions and carefully observe their effects in order to learn about something.  Something that is done as a test: something that you do to see how well or how badly it works

Absolutely.  But sadly software development is hardly scientific.

Agile is something that I’ve always considered a bit ridiculous, and Modern Agile goes to the next level: the ludicrous, the absurd.  Modern Agile sounds great, especially in this new-age feel-good world of software development, but it’s ultimately a collection of words that mean nothing in any usable sense.  Just like a strip club.


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