Is a Pit-Crew Driving your Agile Racecar?

There’a backlash out there against Agile.

But the problem is NOT with Agile - most of what passes for Agile these days is a misappropriation of and misattribution to Agile whatever suits the need/greed – and abilities – of consultants who range from incompetent to dishonest.

The problem also lies with those who hire a Pit-Crew to Build or Drive your Racecar.

An overwhelming majority of Agile practitioners out there are consultants whose primary (or even only) skill/background is Project Management. Many of them are the same people from the waterfall world who have simply rebranded - not reinvented! - themselves and co-opted the term Agile to mean whatever they can get away with.

Everywhere I look I see companies hiring

  • Project Managers as Agile Consultants / Coaches – aka the Pit-Crew
  • with scant experience in Engineering or Product Management or Business Leadership
  • to tell their Engineers
  • how to build a state-of-art Engineering Pipeline – aka your Racecar; and
  • to tell their Product / Business Leaders – aka the Drivers
  • how to Create/Innovate valuable Products.

It's time to redirect the backlash where it belongs - towards those who have co-opted Agile and turned it into a certification and perpetual training & coaching machine that's harming software/product development teams, product innovation and organizational success.

Even the Agile Alliance's official position statement warns against it, albeit couched in subtleties. Agile Manifesto author and software industry luminary Martin Fowler denounced it in his post on Flaccid Scrum.

No one who ever puts his or her money on the line - aka bootstrapping entrepreneur - can ever fail to reap the rewards of Agile methods or have a fundamental problem with agility. I say this as a bootstrapping entrepreneur for a good part of the last 14 years, as an Agile Product Strategist for the last 10 years, and as the founder of an organization that enables bootstrapping entrepreneurs help each other through collaboration (including hiring each other through HaE.Ninja).

The problem has been people on the inside resisting threats to their entrenched positions and consultants on the outside cozying up to them to milk the corporate cow.

The Agile Manifesto - and the Twelve Principles of Agile Software - have served as the foundation of my product development efforts at my own startup as well as successful communication and collaboration with other companies ranging in size from solo entrepreneurs and SMBs to large organizations.

Dave Thomas – one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto - would like to kill the term Agile. I would go farther and say this:

There is no such thing as Agile (or Lean or Scrum or Kanban) – just the right way of building software programs and products.

And it all starts with understanding the nature of software and setting free its magical power.

It's time to get the pit-crew out of the drivers seat and the racecar - and back into the pit. In other words, stop letting Agile project management aka Scrum consultants get away with murdering the morale of your engineering and product management teams.

It’s time to stop treating Product Management as “out of band” in Agile and put it back in charge of the Go-to-Market Strategy.

It’s time to empower Product Management & Engineering to define & drive the Agile Roadmap.