Beware the Agile System

Is Nietzsche’s proclamation too harsh? “I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity.” Perhaps it’s a tad extreme, but it makes its point well: systems crush (or at best, ignore) the needs of the individual; systems lack creativity; systems are easy, but they can also be … More

the new idol

If Zarathustra were alive today and he were a software developer, he’d probably declare something like this: Somewhere there are still peoples and herds, but not with us, my brethren: here there is Agile. Agile? What is that? Well! open now your ears unto me, for now will I say unto you my word concerning the … More

how to have a terrible meeting

set a vague (or no) agenda – so that attendees can come to the meeting with no idea what it’s for and do no preparation do not try to solve any questions before the meeting via slack (or email) – as this could mean cancelling the meeting altogether, saving a tremendous amount of time for … More

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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About Us

Hi, I’m Lillie. Previously a magazine editor, I became a full-time mother and Product Manager in 2017. I spent most of my time avoiding my kids and husband, while becoming a Certified Scrum Master, then I realized how nihilistic Agile was and started writing about it.

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