The Agile Industrial Complex

The Definition

“The expression military–industrial complex (MIC) describes the relationship between a country’s military and the defense industry that supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy.” – Wikipedia

Satirically, I’d argue that there exists an Agile-Industrial Complex (AIC), which describes the relationship between a country’s software companies and the Agile industry that supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences software development policy.

What is it?

If you’ve ever walked into a bookstore and seen the shelves of books about Agile, Scrum, Kanban, or, if you’ve ever worked with a ‘Certified ScrumMaster’, or read articles about how we can work more efficiently if we only used ‘Process X, Y, and Z’ – then you’ve run into the Agile Industrial Complex.

Let’s search Google for an example:


What has happened here? Oops, someone took a rather innocent idea (the Agile Manifesto) and transformed it into a hard set of rules, thus spawning a set of bullshit organizations and groups, thus spawning an accompanying set of bullshit certifications, thus generating an accompanying set of bullshit occupations. . . repeat, ad nauseum.

Why would someone do such a thing?

Perhaps someone honestly wanted to help out software teams. . . but, more likely, someone saw an opportunity to make money.

The Outcome

And, in its quest to make money – the Agile Industrial Complex has generated an enormous set of problems. In general, the Agile Industrial Complex promotes the following falsehoods:

  1. a one-method-fits-all approach is best for all teams
  2. Agile dogma is better than first-principles thinking
  3. Agile ‘experts’ know better than plebeian developers
  4. Agile expertise requires a certification
  5. No one could possibly learn ‘Agile’ this by doing some light reading and experimentation

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