State of Agile

Does anybody remember laughter?

Does anybody remember laughter?

I’m wondering if the #1 metric for agile teams (individuals, groups, organizations) is joy? Or to quote Robert Plant – Does anybody remember laughter?

I’ve often reminisced in my classes that I started developing software for the sheer joy of it. I had fun doing it. It was creative. It was something I could do alone and with teams. It was something that created something useful for a customer/requester and I could deliver it to them and see how it delivered value. It brought be joy.

Then somewhere along my journey the bean counters took over. As did the project managers. The folks who micromanaged me, put more stock in estimates than the work. Folks who, in many cases, didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. They started pushing me for artificial dates and telling me the wrong thing to build. They didn’t listen to me or treat me like I was a partner. I became a software developing cog in their machine.

And, I lost my joy.

Developing software became a job, a chore, and joy-less. I lost the fun.


Am I the only one who really struggles with the terms:

  • Agile Project Manager?

  • Agile PMO (Project Management Office)?

I see them being used all of the time. I encounter them in adds for open positions and in organizations who are striving to introduce agility. The terminology seems to be pervasive.

But at the same time, if you put on an agile mindset, they seem to be oxymorons.

It’s not the People

And my beef isn’t with the people filling those roles. It’s with the role and responsibilities associated with them.

Here’s another “Test”

One side-effect of using these terms, and I hear it all the time, is the organizations also use the term resources to refer to their people.

Again, this terminology doesn’t align with an agile mindset.

Wrapping Up

It’s simple. Really it is.

If your organizations is moving down the road to aligning with agile principles and the mindset. Then you really don’t need project managers and a PMO.

Instead you need accountable, self-directed, and trusted teams who have a goal and understand the importance of transparency.

And you need leaders who support them, get out of the way, and expect great things. With no real need for “projects and project management”.

Stay agile my friends,


BTW: Here’s an article by Anthony Mersino that not only supports my point, but does a MUCH better job of communicating it. Please take the time to read it -

Pocket Knives & Agile

Pocket Knives & Agile

You all may not know this, but I’m a fairly avid collector of pocket knives. I tend to gravitate towards knives that are:

  • Well-made & high quality

  • Somewhat unique

  • Made by manufacturers with solid reputations

  • That have great customer reviews

While I care about the ultimate price, I care more about all of the above factors. I guess I consider each purchase an investment of sorts as I build my collection.

Chris Reeves Knives

SAFe No Longer - My Final Farewell

SAFe No Longer - My Final Farewell

I saw a note on LinkedIn the other day about the implementation roadmap on the Scaled Agile website. I followed it here -

I found a really nice diagram that reminded me of the children’s game Chutes and Ladders. It had a wavy path for folks to follow in order to successfully implement SAFe.  

As I looked at the diagram, I imagined $$$ at specific points where the SAFe folks (Scaled Agile proper, consulting firms, SPC consultants, tooling firms, etc.) could “cash in” on SAFe training, consulting, and tooling.

In other words, I followed the path and heard an ongoing CHA-CHING in the air!

And as I looked at it closer, it finally dawned on me that SAFe was no longer safe. It was no longer supporting the essence of the agile manifesto. That it had clearly crossed the chasm from agile-focused framework to agile-buzzword and revenue generation vehicle. I guess the realization hit me that SAFe, while perhaps ok for others, was no longer safe for me to support. Which made me feel sad.


Competing Agile Voices

Competing Agile Voices

I was having an email conversation with an agile coaching colleague the other day. In one of her replies, she said the following: 

BTW I really like the way you articulate your concerns about the agile community at large. It’s helpful to share with my leadership and customers as we try to navigate a very messy space of certifications, frameworks, and competing agile voices

The final point she made really struck a chord with me. The notion of competing agile voices.

It made me realize that, YES, there are many, many agile voices today. And one of the real challenges is to figure out who to listen to. Where’s the value and the experience? And how to avoid the “noise” or how to separate the wheat from the chaff?

I want to share some ideas around this challenge. No, I’m not sharing any secret filter or the 1-person to listen to. They don’t exist.

But I do want to share some advice for handling the high voice count and how to become a more discerning listener when it comes to the noise.