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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

The Carnival of Agile Bullshit


Agile is already mainstream. And it is business too with all the good and all the bad which come in package. We have coaches, certified masters, thought-leaders and self-proclaimed gurus. We have methods, approaches and techniques all over the place. There are plenty of people telling us why we should get into agile bandwagon and how we should progress once we’re there.

And with all this stuff there’s a lot of bullshit too.

What I see very often is people selling it as the best advice. Then I’m all “Come on, you don’t think I’m going to buy this stuff, do you?” But somehow people are buying it and repeating it all the time. So this will be my call on the subject – pointing agile-related bullshit. I will go iconoclastic, become controversial, cause some stir and (hopefully) launch a good discussion.

For the next two weeks on Software Project Management we’ll have Carnival of Agile Bullshit.

All posts of Carnival of Agile Bullshit:

in: project management

5 comments… add one

  • Laurent Parenteau March 29, 2010, 6:32 pm

    Since this Carnival is over, how would you sum it up?

  • Pawel Brodzinski March 30, 2010, 12:43 am

    I gathered more positive and less negative feedback than I expected. I caused some stir, which I think is good, although I think this is one of subjects where it is hard to convince people.

    We usually have an already set opinion about agile and what it means for us and we’re hardly ready to change our approach.

    One thing I personally learned writing this series is agile is something very vague. Depending on context or situation we put agile label on different things – general approaches, specific methodologies, practices or techniques. Even if we agree on general direction we focus on different things.

    One will point specific engineering practice, another will focus on attitude and someone else on principles. It all depends on a point of view and while I don’t agree with some of these approaches I’m not going to fight with people who see agile other way than I am.

    I think I’ll keep coming back to a couple of posts of Agile Bullshit Carnival since for me they were a kind of aha moments but I hope everyone could find something for themselves.

    And what do you think about the carnival?

  • Laurent Parenteau March 31, 2010, 6:13 am

    I enjoyed it, especially all the comments it generated.

    It showed that the ‘agile’ word isn’t descriptive enough, and people should be more explicit of what they meant when they talk about it. Otherwise, it is quite easy to misinterpret the other’s point of view.

    But, I would also say that it showed what agile is all about : adapting. Adapting to people, adapting to teams, adapting to projects. That’s why everybody is view of what agile is are different.

    When you accept this, you can no longer be dogmatic about it.

  • Mike Haden April 4, 2010, 6:09 pm

    This was an excellent series of posts, Pawel – in particular:
    “We should care less about specific methods and more about people in our teams. A team of great engineers following well-known (for them and for their client) waterfall-like process will produce better results than average team using the best agile approach you can think of working for client who doesn’t get and doesn’t want this whole agile thing. … When you consider which methodology you want to follow think which one would be the best for your team and for your client.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Enough said.

  • JustMakeItWork September 22, 2013, 11:02 am

    Programmers are uniquely susceptible to the notion that they themselves can be programmed, and too often become willing true-believers in methodology. Focusing on one’s own behavior is basically narcissistic. Creative engineering is passionate about what software should do, and how it can do it, and proceeds with humility and common sense.

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