A new normal, but a bad normal

Posted on 1/12/2012 by Rajeev Singh

In the last few years, I have been focusing on Agile Pathologies. My thesis is that as individuals we exhibit certain patterns of thinking, reacting, and politicking that usually impede Agile adoption. At times it is outright contrary to what Agility is all about. We can blame the tools, spaghetti code base, team distribution or whatever else you have, but Agile adoption is a people challenge.

A few in the industry discounted my views. Some examples:
  • "People behave in fairly predictable ways."
  • "That's within the realm of normal human response."
  • "80% of projects fail because of lack of attention upfront."
We are considered knowledge workers and supposedly can intelligently deep-dive to fix our problems. Under this misconception, we have built a culture of band-aiding the broken bones when it comes to people issues. This is the new normal, but it's a bad normal. 

With Agile manifesto, the software development community for the first time officially declared people to be more valuable. If we really believe that, we have to try hard to identify a pattern in people problems, and address their root causes. Or else the debate will not cease, “Is Agile the best way to write software, or is it the way best people choose to write software?”

Just as any good constitution or a body of law isn't of much consequence without understanding the basic principles and right execution, so is Agile. By execution, here, I mean responses to emerging problems and situations. Good Agile environments need relentless focus on improving people issues. More importantly, they require that we are hawk-eyed in spotting pathologies.

[Image taken from: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/UXs56SKql2q/Italian+Team+Training+Session/3EfoOAs1Rqt/Marcello+Lippi ]

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