Thursday, November 28, 2013

Agile Fragile

Having had my technology fad immunisation jab at an early age I am immune to the worst effects of new technology trends.  Agile is a disease that has taken hold in Government.  Like myxomatosis, it was introduced with good intentions to control the population of poor quality IT projects and SIs.  But like Myxy it has some terrible consequences in that the disease used to cure the ill has had terrible side effects.

A new breed of IT person now marches around government.  Its Agile Man.  Confidently armed with the 12 principles it is an approach which has its own manifesto.

This should raise alarm bells.  Agile is like a religion, it has its 12 commandments and its supporters do not question them.  They have faith.  Faith that following the agile path will lead to IT salvation.  They have organised their religion in the form of Cabinet Office's GDS which as far as we can tell is similar to the inquisition.  Sending people in to villages around the country to ensure that the commandments are followed and any signs of heresy squashed.

The other parallel to religion is that the leaders are unable to answer or tolerate questioning on the subject.  Why does our god allow bad things to happen?  Always results in some complex answer that it is our fault and not gods.  Same with agile.  If agile projects go wrong its not because agile has faults or flaws, its because we did not properly follow agile.

Agile will rise like a religion and it will fade like a religion.  There will always be the faithful but in the end, rational answers will not be forthcoming and those who look at it for what it is will get fed up with the inability to have a rational debate and a set of answers with the religious leaders and go find something else to do.

The final parallel is recruitment.  You cannot get a job now unless you are agile thinking.  The need to suspend rational thinking and join the faith is an entry criteria.  If you find yourself inside an organisation and are not agile, you will be sidelined and a new drone found to replace you.

Of course, I jest.  Sort of.  There are clear parallels to be drawn here.  Agile has many positive things going for it and as a tool, if wielded well could achieve some great results.  But blindly applied to every job, especially by those who do not understand it and you will find yourself trying to shoe a horse in a watchmakers workshop with a Hilti gun.  Not much fun for anyone, least of all the horse.


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