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Agile is Dead! Long Live Agility!

Recently, Capital One has jettisoned 1100 members of their agile team. At the same time, Marty Cagan, a powerful voice in the software product community has spoken out against the direction that the “agile industry” has been going. Indeed, this is not a new pattern.

As with any major new model of practice, early opportunists swarm in. The sector grows based on its own buzz and momentum. Everyone wants to get on the bandwagon. You know, FOMO! There are always some good stories to tell to make everyone feel like their decision to adopt and adapt was a good one.

Eventually, the insidious nature of the opportunists becomes apparent. Such is the case with “agile.” Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to achieve a number of industry certifications. None were easier to obtain than that of a certified scrum master. What I have learned is that the gap between what you are expected to know and what you should know to be good at the job is vast.

Get ready for the big shakeout! It happens every time. Many companies got into microcomputers when the industry was young. Most are gone now. Many got into local area networking - gone! Groupware (collaboration tools) - gone! However, all of these technologies have never been more important. The same is true of agility. The principles in the Agile Manifesto have never been more important to succeed in product development. Sure, they could use an update, but their underlying message is as valid as ever.

So, before you fire all of your agile team members, ask yourself about their value proposition. What is their contribution? Are your team members qualified to deliver on that expectation? What skills do they lack? Getting rid of your agile team won’t mean that you stop practicing agile product development. It may mean that you don’t do it as well, but that’s another assessment.

I’m going to be writing some more about what scrum and agile professionals can do to fulfill their mission, but for now be clear on your own expectations and hold your team accountable with real metrics.

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