A couple of posts that describe how many teams are flailing and failing with Scrum:
- James Shore: The Decline and Fall of Agile
- Rob Bowley: Lean is the new Scrum, and it will fail for the same reasons
I’ve observed similar patterns. However, my gripe with an oft-heard Agilist response: “they are failing because they just don’t get Agile” or “if Agile failed for you, it’s your (or management’s) fault” smacks of blaming the victim(s). An emerging response that I support is:
Maybe a pure form of ‘Agile’ isn’t appropriate for that team, in their context.
(Time for some Process fusion?) Philippe Kruchten has a great talk on this: Situated Agility – Context Does Matter, a Lot.
It’s also very difficult dealing with the scorched earth of a failed Scrum project after the Scrum trainers have left and the team is struggling on their own, feeling humiliated. “Are we the only ones failing? Why do we hear all these wonderful reports of how Scrum would solve all process ills? What’s wrong with us? We’re trying…” It’s hard to get them to retain the good practices they learned from Scrum and to encourage them not to throw out everything and return to a system that wasn’t working before either, but is more familiar, so it feels safer.
Rumours of Practice
TDD – more of a rumour of practice than actual practice? (much like some of what is described in the two posts above.)
Roy Osherove: Goodbye mocks, Farewell stubs
My own observations about these and other Agile practices being more of a rumour of practice than an actual practice leads me to wonder if Agile practices are another flavour of a bubble. Time will tell, but some of the behavior is troubling. It still galls me that many blindly parrot TDD as an un-alloyed good practice, instead of TDD as another tool to think about using, particularly when people might be basing their conclusions off of rumours, rather than personal experience. This irrational exhuberance is one reason why stock markets ramp up on empty speculation, real estate prices boom on over-valued properties (using mortgages that people can’t afford to pay back), and tulips are bought with abandon. (At least you can plant your tulip bulbs and enjoy beautiful flowers when the bubble bursts. What do you do with your old un-maintainable tests?)
My advice to those who may be struggling? Don’t worry about being “Agile”, (particularly if you’re trying and failing) and worry about providing value. That’s what really matters anyway. (That, and enjoying your work.) Providing value to the users of your software, and valuing the people you work with is important. Value, coupled with the skill and interest level of the team members, will trump methodology in the long run.