Laments to the 10 years of Agile
(Click the link above to see the original article – this is a comment I left there)
The IT project failure rate is a direct result of people ignoring (or plain removing) contingency, usually for political reasons (the Dilbert “pointy haired boss” kind). So a fail is being unable to deliver to a Waterfall-style objectives set at some remove from delivering the projects that were only possible if absolutely nothing went wrong. It goes straight back to Deming’s point about MBO vs MBP – the O’s still have it! If each iteration is an management-forced aspiration rather than based on what is possible (so the chance of “hitting” the story points is even as high as 90%) then you will soon run into trouble (in this example the chance of still being on target after 5 iterations is only around 50%). Of course, in this all to common scenario, everybody gets demotivated too and productivity starts to bomb anyway.
I agree that many people “do agile” rather than “be agile” – they see it as process rather than mind set, and so throw out all sorts of sea anchors around “doing it right”, as in being obsessed with process, rather than (and this is a point made in the quote) “doing the right thing”. As you’ve said yourself, the process-driven, analytical mind set is a much easier place to be than an open Chaordic one, particularly if you learned you craft in a process driven environment, such as an educational institution and just don’t have the models to do things any other way.
I see it as a crisis of models, of education, of plain old fear, not principles. It does seem to be getting worse, though. I think we might need a new Manifesto – somewhat less narrow than the craftsmanship movement because it needs to include people who aren’t coders but want to “do the right thing”. In fact, coding is the last thing in this, but it’s the first that everyone looks at because it’s easier to see.
It’s a great source of frustration and sadness for me that we have all the tools now, we have Deming’s insights, we have agile methods, we have methods for managing uncertainty, blah blah blah – but people still carry on doing the same old stuff assuming the results will be different next time. I think it was Einstein that said that this is a sign of madness.