You Call Yourself Agile?

We had our monthly Agile Users’ Group meeting today.  Did I say meeting?  What I meant was, announcement.  Or something.  It was a completely one-way affair; from us to them.

I have no idea how many ‘agile’ practitioners were on the line today.  The reason I don’t know is that we don’t take attendance, and very few people speak up.  Most of the time, we have to call someone out by name to get a response to a question. 

I’m beginning to wonder if these folks get what it truly means to be ‘Agile’.

I work in a bank; I know what it means to be frustrated by arcane process rituals that don’t necessarily add value.  There are some obvious ones like High-Level and Low-Level design documents that are only as valuable as the paper they’re written on because the actual running design changes once the rubber meets the road — and the documents never get updated until you are replacing the system at which point they’re useless by definition.

Imagine trying to run a project in an agile way while all the management and governance folks are still using waterfall sensibilities.  You can think of ten ways that this would be frustrating, maybe more than ten.

Apparently, everything is okay in these folks’ environments.  No frustrations, no problems, no areas where they could use a little guidance.


Maybe it’s just me, but Agile means caring about the work you do, it means changing the way you do things for the betterment of the project.  It means passion!

I’ve never worked on a truly agile team where there weren’t strong opinions about how to change things for the better.  If I offered a ThoughtWorks team 10 slots on a call to improve a process, at least 15 would show up.  That’s what I’m talking about.

For the folks on the call this morning: Ho hum.  Silence.

I fear for our transformation efforts if this is the level of excitement people are feeling.

The only hope I hold in this case is that folks are so beaten down by the waterfall and that they don’t believe (yet) that our team is for real.

We are.

Or that they are cynically using this time to take an hour out of their schedule to do other things; “Sorry, I’m busy between 11:00 and 12:00.”  They put the meeting on and ignore it.  Maybe a combination of the two.

I hope not.

Our team is for real.  We are working the waterfall issues – and succeeding.  We have management behind us.  We need these ‘practitioners’ to get involved.

Wake up guys.  A true Agile project option is coming.

I hope you’ll join us.


1 thought on “You Call Yourself Agile?

  1. Understand what you’re going through. Suncorp is a bank as well as a wider financial organisation in Australia, however, it has been been fortunate enough to have Jeff Smith as the CIO and GE of the IT Division who is a true advocate of Agile and is leading the Agile Tribe at Suncorp. Jeff just spoke at the Agile Australia 2009 conference about the Suncorp journey, so if you want to have a look at the video of his Day 2 keynote –

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