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Programming IT

Should Developers Abandon Agile? (ronjeffries.com) 435

An anonymous reader quotes InfoQ: Ron Jeffries, author, speaker, one of the creators of Extreme Programming (XP), and a signatory of the Agile Manifesto back in 2001, shared a post on his blog in which he advocates that developers should abandon "Agile". The post further elaborated that developers should stay away from the "Faux Agile" or "Dark Agile" forms, and instead get closer to the values and principles of the Manifesto. The terms "Faux Agile" and "Dark Agile" are used by the author to give emphasis to the variety of the so-called "Agile" approaches that have contributed, according to him, to make the life of the developers worse rather than better, which is the antithesis of one of the initial ideas of the Agile Manifesto...
Jeffries writes that "When 'Agile' ideas are applied poorly, they often lead to more interference with developers, less time to do the work, higher pressure, and demands to 'go faster'. This is bad for the developers, and, ultimately, bad for the enterprise as well, because doing 'Agile' poorly will result, more often than not, in far more defects and much slower progress than could be attained. Often, good developers leave such organizations, resulting in a less effective enterprise than prior to installing 'Agile'...

"it breaks my heart to see the ideas we wrote about in the Agile Manifesto used to make developers' lives worse, instead of better. It also saddens me that the enterprise isn't getting what it could out of the deal, but my main concern is for the people doing the work..." He argues developers should instead just focus on good general software development practices -- like regularly producing fully-tested software and consciously avoiding "crufty" complex designs.

But what do Slashdot's readers think? Should developers abandon Agile?

Should Developers Abandon Agile?

Comments Filter:
  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @07:39PM (#56757408)

    This makes it really difficult for an organization to determine if they're truly doing "Agile" or some bastard form. It also calls into question methods and even formal standards built on 'Agile'.

    But when I've pressed Agile Evangelists on this, usually when we've had problems and I've asked, "So are we doing Agile", all I've gotten in return is, "If it's not working, you're not doing it right."

    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:02PM (#56757512) Homepage Journal

      I initially read that as "If it's working, you're not doing it right."

      I'm on the fence as to which is more accurate.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        One sign of trouble for Agile is that PMI has worked it into the PMBOK, which ensures that poorly trained (but PMI certified) hacks will be destroying its effectiveness for years to come.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:12PM (#56757566)

      Problem is -“agile” is often used as a management code word for “understaffed, overworked, and unsupported”.

      • "Problem is -âoeagileâ is often used as a management code word for âoeunderstaffed, overworked, and unsupportedâ."

        Problem is, as always it is, that managers are morons.

        Well, in fact they are *not* morons, but clever people that cleverly respond to their environment -that's the fundamental difference with the minions. Minions see -and look for, what is needed. Managers offer what is wanted -at face value. Do you want me to shoot you on your head? There. Done.

        But, anyway, managers are

        • by Cytotoxic ( 245301 ) on Sunday June 10, 2018 @08:19AM (#56759440)

          This is the nut of the problem. It always comes down to people, and the most productive teams are going to rub some people the wrong way because often times the most productive way of getting something done is to say "no".

          I've worked with the "just give them what they ask for" crowd. It is just awful.

          It works for a while. They are sooooo happy! You gave them that stupid thing that will never work in a million years! Then after a while, things are a mess and they still blame the dev team.

          The only way that I've found to work with them is to have the backing of their superiors when you look them in the eye and tell them no. Anything less than the full backing from the top levels ends in disaster - methodology be damned.

          This is why outsourcing can be so bad. You need the institutional knowledge that a good group of developers will have. And you need an executive team that has confidence in their developers so that when they push back against some dumb initiative they will have their backs.

          I can't tell you how many times I've had near mutiny when I explained why something was stupid and had the CEO tell me to do it anyway, just to keep someone happy. No competent developer wants to waste his time building something he knows isn't going to work. But at least I was able to tell them that their concerns were heard and why they were dismissed. (and at least they knew I wasn't crazy, and their CEO wasn't crazy... or stupid)

          Absent that connection, I don't know how things can work, long term. With good managers and executives, you could make outsourcing work. But eventually that guy who just doesn't get it is going to come along and insist on his vanity project. And the guys from India are just going to say "Ok, here's the bill". Maybe they fire the local PM when the whole things goes to crap. Or change development companies. But will they even be able to see that the problem was the idea behind the vanity project wasn't any good from the start? Often it is the dev team that is uniquiely positioned to know this, because they've had years of experience with all of the company's business rules and past mistakes.

          So if there is no mechanism for continuity of business knowledge and no respect for that knowledge at the top.... well, I don't see how it could possibly succeed, long term.

      • by khchung ( 462899 )

        Problem is ANY BUZZ WORD would be used as a management code word for "understaffed, overworked, and unsupported".

        In short, problem is in the management.

      • Yeah, this has been known for a while [dilbert.com].
    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:29PM (#56757668)

      There is not much to argue about in the Manifesto. Pretty much truisms. My only criticism is: 'Management won't get it, will only see the parts they like. If they got it, they wouldn't need it. If they need it, they won't get it.'

      IMHO the key part of the manifesto was 'hire competent enthusiastic individuals'...which can be used to validate claims of agility. Those people DON"T work for industry average. If an organization is paying industry average, it _cannot_ be agile. Most likely it's 'agility' amounts to management's ability to maintain a bidirectional circle jerk.

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:43PM (#56757724) Journal
      There is, though. [agilemanifesto.org] Right there at the top it says, "We value individuals and interactions over processes and tools." Is Agile a process? Primarily it's not. Ask your consultant what they are doing to value individuals over processes. Watch the blank look of fear, followed by a stream of BS coming out of their mouth.
    • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @09:01PM (#56757818) Homepage Journal

      The "No True Scotsman" fallacy is one of the most annoying things about Agile. "You're not doing it right" has become a mantra for explaining away any shortcomings, of which there are more than a few.

      • Yea, but even as a non-agile developer you can see when the agile team has decayed to waterfall method, has stopped timeboxing, and abandoned other core behaviors and features.

        I always preferred RUP. It seemed to work better with business partners.

        It was very clear that you identified risk and eliminated it *first* before starting generic ("construction") coding, that you *always* timeboxed, you never delayed a release for a "really important feature that wasn't quite ready yet", you had regular updates on

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@@@worf...net> on Sunday June 10, 2018 @05:12AM (#56759052)

          I've never gotten Agile.

          Our company doesn't use Agile anything. Strictly speaking, it's waterfall - we get a project from a customer, and we (engineers, sales and customer) work hard figuring out a list of requirements (we have to know what we're building, after all). This can take a little while - often engineering will scrap a list of requirements, step back, and ask the customer "what are you REALLY wanting here?"

          As in, the customer gave us a list of stuff, but we stepped back, asked what they really wanted in the end (i.e., we go from the detailed view to the 10,000 foot view) This makes it possible to see if there is a better way to accomplish what the customer actually wants.

          Then once we have requirements, we start building. Weekly, we'd meet with the customer and provide status updates, and the customer can redirect our efforts - perhaps a priority changed, or it turns out the customer doesn't want something anymore, and we work on new stuff. When something is complete, or a milestone reached, we cut a release and give the customer time to play with it and redirect our efforts again. Lather rinse repeat.

          We have no "sprints" or tasks to do in a sprint - we have a list of what the customer wants done, and for the most part, those tasks take far longer than most sprints. (We have had many customers who do Agile and asked about what we'd do in the sprint, and we'd have to explain that the feature they want can't be broken down into one week work periods - it's a task that will take 3 weeks. We could break it into meaningless subtasks but that makes a huge assumption that you can work on a subtask alone - most of the work in a task is closely related so you may work on subtask A, switch to subtask B because A needs a modification in B, then go back to A, switch to C, etc.).
          '
          For the most part, it works - customers are generally quite happy, they know where the sore points are and we fix them immediately, and it's happened that many projects start out as a tiny little one that grew into a huge multi-year thing as customers want to try us out, are satisfied and impressed with our work and then give us more bits and pieces to do.

          And no, our releases are on the order of once a month or so - the systems are complex enough that builds can take a day or so (often customers get source code, but some parts they can't because it requires licensing they don't have, so we have to make partial binary builds. And yes, we test to make sure those actually build). And there's also a QA process too to ensure no regressions. Customers cannot skip QA (builds often signify milestones), but they can get "early releases" which mean they get builds as soon as they hit QA with the caveat that some things may be broken And it does mean sometimes we've halted the release because of a showstopper and take time to fix it and re-release.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2018 @07:02AM (#56759300)

            If you are implementing features incrementally, showing the customer on regular intervals and then allowing the users to provide feedback and then re-prioritize stories during the project, you are pretty much following the "spirit" of Agile. I see the most important part of Agile as delivering the most valuable features to customers in an iterative fashion so you can constantly make sure you are on the right track. The problem with the old, pure-waterfall approach was the fact teams would take a huge amount of time up-front to come up with requirements (which are often poorly captured and change over time) and then go on to design and build a system for many months/years before actually showing the customer. This results in building something that really doesn't meet the users' needs due to the fact the customer may not have articulated the requirements properly, their actual needs changed over time, and your analysts may not have captured the requirements properly.

      • by sphealey ( 2855 )

        = = = The "No True Scotsman" fallacy is one of the most annoying things about Agile. "You're not doing it right" has become a mantra for explaining away any shortcomings, of which there are more than a few. = = =

        Yes, but of course the Waterfall and One True Spec adherents said exactly the same thing for 30 years in the face of evidence of failure rates over 50% as well. So perhaps there is no perfect method?

        The wisdom of the industrial organization I once worked for that split any division that grew lar

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      "Agile" has no definition because it is supposed to be an adjective, not a noun.

    • by HGG ( 176028 )

      Why is Agile a moving target? I think it goes like this:

      The original vision was great: Many projects are hard because they require high-quality human interfaces. Humans are lousy at pre-specifying what they want for interfaces, so waterfall specs are slow and useless. The better approach is to just prototype stuff and have the user try it out. If your development cycle is vastly faster than users review cycle, you do real code instead of prototypes. Continue to grow the app as users' underst

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Does this remind anyone of the "No True Scotsman" falacy? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

      No true implementation of Agile fails. ... but my organization's implementation of Agile is failing
      Then your organization is not doing a true implementation of Agile.

      (Personally I find agile, even when done well, is much better than any alternative I've worked with so far... I just found the logical fallacy interesting.)

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @07:41PM (#56757422)
    No. What make agile work is accountability. The agile shops I've seen have what's basically a case system that tracks User Stories which describe small amounts of work. That's used to manage the teams and make sure they're move forward to some definite goal. That's the reason agile works. You can keep tabs on what your devs are doing and if they go off the rails fix it in 1 sprint.
    • by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @07:58PM (#56757506)

      And yet, you can do lots and lots of stories, and in the end you have a big steaming pile, because the stories don't add up to anything. I recently worked on a product like that. There was one "feature" that I backtracked to about 8 different stories, each of which incrementally added a sub-feature that, ON ITS OWN, sounded like a good idea. But the sum total was almost impossible to understand, and I'm sure people blamed the devs, not the managers who insisted on the "stories".

      • by cruff ( 171569 )
        Supposedly that is what a software architect should be doing, the high level design, outside of the pressure of the agile sprints. Ideally then you have a roadmap to where things need to go, with an initial set of stories defined for the sprints. Yeah, that doesn't seem to happen where I work either.
        • Too often agile skips (argue that this is doing it wrong all you like, it's often reality) trying to do an extensive requirements analysis to nail things down to the point where you can do a high-level design that will be useful for more than two sprints. The real failure is probably that no one really wants to do the hard bits first, so those tend to get left until too late into the development process and invariably lead to throwing out or seriously reworking a lot of the earlier effort that failed to acc
        • Re:Betteridge's law (Score:5, Interesting)

          by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @09:31PM (#56757928)

          Ideally, yes. My first 20 or so years as a dev I worked in environments where we were "self-organizing" but we weren't delivering small increments. Instead we have fairly long term goals (usually for a yearly release) and then each dev or small group of devs figured out how to get it done. And amazingly enough the work got done and the product was coherent.

          Since I've started working in Agile groups for a number of years the development has been way more subject to "here's a feature that can be added in two weeks, let's go for it" w/o a coherent overall view of where we were headed. And this is at 3 separate companies.

          Agile (whether Scrum, Extreme Programming, whatever) just seems to be one of those things that sounds good, that has some good ideas, but ultimately comes with its own set of problems. As Fred Brooks said, there's no silver bullet.

      • we're talking about minimizing that risk. If you're having that much trouble it's because nobody's managing the queue. But at least there _is_ a queue. There's something written down that can be post mortemed. The alternatives I've seen is to write a massive design document and have at it.
    • You've got agile confused with scrum or some other 'greased hog fuck' methodology.

    • Agile (more specifically, scrum and derivatives) is a tool managers use to keep programmers on task, and to get them to work harder. In that way, it begins from a position of lack of trust, you use it because you don't trust the developers to take care of things.

      Ultimately that is the opposite of Agile, which says, "We value individuals and interactions over processes and people." If you don't trust your developers, the focus should be on improving the skill of your developers so you can trust them. The
      • Trustworthiness and skill are orthogonal.

        If you improve the 'skill' of an untrustworthy person, all you get is a better liar.

        There aren't many issues that aren't fixable in a team member. Complete loss of trust is one of them.

        • Trustworthiness and skill are orthogonal.

          ok, you completely misunderstood or you are trolling. Examples.

          1)A person doesn't know how to write Javascript or CSS. Can you trust this person to finish the frontend featureset by next week? No, you can't.

          2)A person doesn't have good estimation skills. Can you trust this person to estimate when they will finish? No, you can't. Another example:

          3)A person has finished their work within the estimate every sprint for the last six months. Can you trust this person to correctly estimate when they will

          • Trust is trust. Unqualified, it is far larger than your use...Fair enough, I misunderstood.

            Your on about: 'trust your developers time estimates.' related 'trust your developers designs' 'trust your developers code quality' etc etc. Actual tech lead/architect agile project manager considerations. That all starts after you decide to basically 'trust' him.

            But those things are only really available to technical people. Schedules get blown all the time, even by good devs. Sometimes it's because the design w

      • > get them to work harder.

        That's what it's all about. When you have one or two scrum meetings a day where you have to talk about what you accomplished since the last meeting and what you commit to before the next meeting, of course you have to work hard. We do two scrum meetings a day during the week, 9am and 8pm, and one at noon on Saturdays and Sundays. People don't think long-term or about quality. All they care about is getting their code reviews done and being able to merge before the next meeti

    • From what I've seen, my entire industry (videogames) has more or less adopted agile/scrum, and it's not really a bad thing. Frequent short stand-up meetings can be useful, although the idea that you CAN'T sit down seems childish to me. In my current job, we cluster around hallway whiteboards, so I don't mind that so much. If you're forcing everyone to stand when there are chairs in the area, it just feels silly. You should be able to gently enforce time rules without that.

      The language regarding "user st

  • Thanks to using tried and tested wartsandall I got a frosty pist!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's got a manifesto.
    Those who have to live with it want to escape it.
    It slowly destroys organizations that use it.
    Despite always failing "real Agile has never been tried right".

  • We should go chasing Waterfall?

  • Yes, we should switch to whatever Ron Jeffries is selling!
  • Maybe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <apoc.famine@gmail . c om> on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:18PM (#56757596) Journal

    I've worked in both a small shop (under 20 developers) and a decently large organization (more than 400 employees) although outside the dev shop. I had positive agile experiences in both places.

    What I've found is that agile works given a few conditions:

    1) The organization actually adopts agile, and embraces it.
    2) The owners of the development both understand agile and have the political power to enforce it.
    3) The devs understand agile and can thrive within it.

    When all that happens, and I know that's not often, Agile can shine. I've seen it, and I've really appreciated it. I get how it can go terribly wrong, but it can and does work, if the environment allows it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stop believing that if you could only find that one perfect methodology, your mediocre team of developers will create greatness. It has never worked in the past, and "agile" (however you define it) is no different. Project managers and business types are addicted to this fantasy, because accepting the reality would lead to extreme cognitive dissonance.

    As always, there are no silver bullets. Hire smart people, give them autonomy (they will adopt their own methodologies as needed), keep teams small, and de

  • Two cases (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:29PM (#56757666) Homepage Journal

    Part of the problem is the idea that with sufficiently detailed procedures, the village idiot can do theoretical physics as well as Einstein. In fact, no amount of procedure will make that happen. Quite the contrary, all that procedure means that if you ever do hire Einstein, his output will closely resemble that of the village idiot.

    Consider one of the popular union tactics, the "rulebook strike". That's where they destroy productivity and punish the employer by having their members actually follow all the workplace rules and procedures rather than doing the right thing (TM,. pat. pend.). It works.

    • It’s process replacing competence. But the problem isn’t that managers think average guys + procedure adds up to Einstein, its that they think that with enough procedure, average devs can get 70% of the work done (in terms of quality and productivity) that fully competent devs produce, and that 70% is enough. They are usually wrong on both counts.

      They apply the same to Agile. Instead of embracing its principles and empowering competent staff to apply them, they seek to translate Agile into mo
      • Re:Two cases (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @09:11PM (#56757852) Homepage Journal

        The thing is, if the staff are competent, they don't need to read about Agile, they'll do the right thing IF management does it's job by keeping things out of their way rather than getting in their way themselves. (that is, management needs to be competent as well).

        If they're not competent, nothing can help them anyway.

        • Re: Two cases (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Denis Goddard ( 3009697 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @11:25PM (#56758308)
          Amen. Iâ(TM)ve been managing software development teams for nearly three decades, and IMO the single most important job of software management is to leave developers alone. Shield them from the Drama/Hot Feature/Management question of the Day. Keep their time in meetings to the barest minimum. Make sure their support responsibilities can be planned for, so they are not jumping into one emergency after another. Make sure customers arenâ(TM)t wasting their time with emails and chats. Absolutely resist the âoejust spend an extra few minutes documenting what you did the last 4 hoursâ/clicking pointless checkboxes/justifying every 30-minute interval of their day. Software requires THINKING. Concentration, in long uninterrupted blocks. Thatâ(TM)s the secret to making the secret sauce: let them think and program.
          • A friend of mine who runs a small company once asked what I thought was the most important job of a boss. I said: "Removing obstacles for their underlings". He really didn't like that and started talking about vision, planning, goals and such. I didn't reply and mentally excused him a bit since he's running a really small company and may not have experience with the kind of problems that arise in larger networks of people.

    • The stuff we're programming in Silicon Valley is closer to what the village idiot does than what Einstein did. It's all a bunch of crappy workflow software.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      The best part about the rulebook strike is that you don't need to strike or be a union member to get mileage out of it.

      We had a come-to-Jesus meeting about slow time entry (our system sucked, was cumbersome, and management's general expectation was that time entry should be done on your own time).

      During the meeting where we vented at some of the dumb misfeatures of time entry that required multiple steps due to bad field interactions, it was suggested that total time mattered, but start/stop fields didn't n

  • Absolutely! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chromaexcursion ( 2047080 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:30PM (#56757674)
    Because most don't actually do agile.
  • by srichard25 ( 221590 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:46PM (#56757738)

    I've supposedly been doing agile for years, but I've never once worked on a self-organizing team who could build software without working with several external groups. And all of those external groups are set up to work waterfall. You've got the UI designer who wants to design the whole experience up front. You've got the data modeler and DBA who both want to know exactly what data you will be using up front. You've got the architect who wants the full design documented so they can spend 10 minutes looking at it and give you an approval. You've got the project manager who wants to know exactly how long all the development is going to take. So you end up having to do big-design-up-front in order to work with all these external groups.

    A lot of companies say they want developers to do agile, but they need to realize that agile requires changes throughout the organization. It's not something that developers can just do by themselves.

    • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @09:28PM (#56757918)

      > And all of those external groups are set up to work waterfall.

      Or, in my experience, they are often set to work only through a manager. Tasks must be explained to one manager, who has the status to talk to another manager, who has the status to speak to their team, and _each_ layer must be completely convinced of the priority and feasibility before a question can even be asked about the available tools. Attempting to do "agile" in this kind of structure is disastrous, because even if a team accomplishes its designated tasks, nothing else is ready. And by the time the other teams are ready, the original work is no longer relevant.

      I've no overall solution for this. I and my colleagues have, on occassion, been able to coordinate multi-department work under the guise of "external consultants", and been applauded for helping.

  • by Philotomy ( 1635267 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:54PM (#56757770)

    I was on a team that "used agile" for while. The thing is, our development workflow "before agile" already addressed the main ideas in the agile manifesto, so in practice what happened is that our development workflow was unnecessarily modified (disrupted?) to include more "agile practices" like pair programming and other buzz words (user stories, rigid application of TDD, et cetera). We didn't see much (any?) real benefit. It eventually got abandoned. Can't say I miss it.

    I've got no problems with the ideas in the agile manifesto. I'm just not convinced that the practices and culture that often gets included are always worthwhile.

  • by brian.stinar ( 1104135 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:55PM (#56757780) Homepage

    At every place I've worked, including the company I now own, the developers haven't been the ones that decided on the development process. The fact that they haven't decided has either been because no one actively decided, and management provided a default choice, or because management actively made a decision regarding the development process (either due to business needs, or basically arbitrarily.)

    So, I believe the question of whether or not developers should abandon Agile is based on the false pretense that developers typically are able to make a decision. I don't believe that they are able to decide which development methodology they subscribe to, in general.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @08:55PM (#56757784) Homepage

    Agile doesn't deliver what the business wants which is to turn coding into non-creative work where you know almost exactly how long it takes to get from A to B and exceptions have explanations like traffic accidents or construction work. Nothing ever will but it won't stop them from trying so the best Agile can do is shield the developers from impossible tasks and meaningless meetings so they can spend time on actually doing development.

    The first shield is the product owner, a ton of people want things and they'll go through all sorts of channels with competing priorities and sneaking in pet features. Shut them down, make that one channel in and one non-developer resource they can talk to if they're not happy with what they're getting. And no, there's no point in re-prioritizing things daily once every two weeks is fine for everything but hair-on-fire emergencies. The second shield is the scrum master, I'm currently one and my main job the way I see it is to maximize the number of hours my team members actually get work done on the things they're supposed to be working on. Particularly all fuzzy meetings called to discuss things where I say "You figure out what you want first from a business perspective, then let's talk solutions" or that are more or less status/re-planning meetings where I say "The quickest way to get it done is to let the ones working on it work on it."

    It's not particularly Agile-specific, reality it's about two simple things, what should I be working on and let me be so I can do my f*cking job. Whether it actually works better for planning than iterative waterfall, meh... I've always said you should try to think and explain as far ahead as reasonable, like is this part of the functionality/structure you'd like to have in the end. You don't build a skyscraper by building a one-story building and then building one more story on top, if you know it's going to need to support 50 stories then tell us now.

    • Most of it is uncreative. We're just doing websites that are slightly different than what's been done before.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @09:04PM (#56757824)

    Poettering! Don't try to sneak away.

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @09:15PM (#56757874)
    But I've been on 3 projects in the last 40 years (I'm retired now) that had daily meetings. All 3 failed for different reasons (hardware issue, company died before project was done, what I just said except for a chip, not a printer).

    What did these 3 have in common? The daily meeting absolutely killed morale. For the first, us software types had a daily meeting where the hardware guys would mumble, the second was at 7 AM daily, even on a Saturday morning (I was in my 20's and still half drunk from the night before, and got sucked into the project when it was failing because "you understand this Unix stuff"), the third was flat out an incompetent manager who could not remember anything day to day.

    For the first, no reason for us software types to be there as there was no hardware.

    For the second, 7 AM on Saturday morning? You'd have been better off letting me roll in at 9.

    For the third? There was no fixing that. The manager was 100% incompetent and could not be fixed.
    • What is the point of a daily meeting? It's not for status updates (otherwise you wouldn't need a tracker). It's to make sure programmers are working. That's why.
  • Cargo cults (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Evil Atheist ( 2484676 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @09:37PM (#56757960) Homepage
    Developers should abandon their tendency to be cargo cultists. Don't do things just because that's the way it's always been done. Don't do things just because someone labelled them Best Practice. Don't do things just because other people have done it and it worked out for them.

    The only method that works is to try it out and see where it leads, be super observant about where the pitfalls start appearing, and give yourself enough leeway to try something else if it isn't working out.
  • Cue the chorus ... "you're not doing it right!"

  • so by definition it can't fail.

    But seriously despite the asinine definition that is illogical that the Agile Manifesto gives to this garbage, it's ridiculous to ruin the lives of programmers to push them to complete work before one or two daily meetings. Where I work now, we have four daily meetings, and if you don't have something done then our CEO requires you to wear a pink skirt and sing Total Eclipse of the Heart. Also,. Agile requires that you intentionally ruin any long term planning since you don'

  • I always thought the Agile Manifesto was satire. You mean people actually took it seriously?
  • Let's move on to the next fad.
  • "When 'Agile' ideas are applied poorly, ...

    When are they not?

  • IE it sounds great in theory but when it comes time to implement it they NEVER implement it correctly.(Which is pretty much what gets said of communism.) Of course I find it telling that one of the big proponents has a communist sounding moniker of "Uncle Bob".
  • The original blog post, https://ronjeffries.com/articl... [ronjeffries.com], doesn't actually suggest abandoning agile. Yes, those words are in the post. But hen Ron Jeffries goes on the explain that developers should instead...follow agile principles. I'm confused.

  • Ron Jeffries thinks corporate versions of Agile miss the mark because they "impose" a process. He says that each team should be able to use whatever process they want.

    That sounds nice, kind of like free love in the 60's. The problem is that both produce unwanted results. For example, Extreme Programming was, and still is, a stupid idea. Sorry, two people can't use a single keyboard efficiently. Given total process freedom, some teams might choose this approach anyway. Boundaries must be imposed.

    The fact is,

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Hire the right people, and they'll usually have no trouble convincing management to go along with their proposed process changes.

      Part of the problem is that management is always hoping that the right methodology will mean they don't need to hire the right people. That there exists some methodology that reduces software development to have employees as interchangeable as fast food workers.

      Good management will always seek out the right people, and generally trust those people to do what they need and are happy so long as the results mesh with their ambitions. These teams are less likely to fret about compliance with buzzwords, so eve

  • I've lived through the waterfall era. Now I work in a large corporation that uses what Ron Jeffries might call faux-agile. It's Scrum, "imposed" by management. It actually works, the team is happy, and gets a lot done. I'll take this faux-agile any day, rather than go back to waterfall!

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Sunday June 10, 2018 @02:55AM (#56758788) Homepage

    Agile is a good concept - I've included the Agile Manifesto in my courses for years. The problem is: Agile is no better than the people implementing it.

    I've just witnessed this (again) in a recent project. The PM had just gotten a promotion, but he had to finish this project. He used Agile as an excuse to basically abdicate (or maybe he was always a lousy PM), and he let the developers and the customer talk together directly. The customer thought this meant that all of their ideas were flowing into the project every two weeks. The developers thought the customer was changing requirements every two weeks. The result was inevitable: a project that is 3/4 finished everywhere, totally finished nowhere, and is now likely to land both companies in court.

    Crappy management is not saved by Agile. Given good management and a good development team, any methodology can work - pick the one best suited to the project and the people.

  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Sunday June 10, 2018 @08:17AM (#56759432)

    The problem was that the manifesto was common sense and stating plainly how good teams already behaved.

    The problem is they and a whole lot of people *thought* that with a plainly spoken set of words, it would be possible to go out and fix the whole industry, which was and still is beset by a whole lot of nonsense in processes and tools.

    They were half right, the short document that was easy to understand did resonate with a lot of people and the idea that the way things are being broken resonated with a lot of people, thoughout these organizations.

    Two major problems happened. One is that the same traits that drove those teams to create terrible processes and abuse tools are still there, and to some extent doom those teams to always landing in the same place, perhaps changing terminology to comply with the fad (big-A Agile). Call their "status meetings" "Scrum", call their "requirements" "stories", "milestones" becomes "sprints". Change the words and 'poof' they are "Agile".

    The other complicating factor is the tools and consultancy business. "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools" is not something that is a profitable stance. So that goes by the wayside and consultants revel in making money reinforcing the above behavior. Consultants know these companies ultimately are spending the money to feel better about the way *they* want to work, and they are happy to oblige. Enough change to be annoying and feel like *something* has changed, but leaving that organization structurally the same, the way management clearly had made it in the first place. On tools, well that is a mess. When asked if my team was "Agile" I replied "yes" (mainly in hopes to deflect the 'transformation initiative") and they asked "Oh, so your team has been paying for Atlassian software then?". Because we didn't happen to be using Atlassian, it was deemed we *must* not be 'Agile' and we had to undergo the bs training and migrate all our stuff to Atlassian tools and in general waste a whole bunch of time. Worse than that, they assigned folks to "help" us be Agile in an ongoing capacity, and demanded we declare 6 months worth of plans for Sprint content and get mad at us when we prioritize responding to a customer request over made-up dates for 'nice to have' backlog items,. When I point out "Responding to change over following a plan" was part of the manifesto, the ostensibly Agile-focused helpers say that's not part of Agile, it wasn't in any of their training, and that they got Agile certification so they should know.

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