#Agile’s dirty little secret

I had the kernel of this blog post a few weeks ago. The idea of the blog post grew and crystalized after viewing Dave Thomas’s presentation ‘The Death of Agile’. It is easily one of the best videos I have seen from an entertainment and educational point of view. I really love watching presentations from people who are simply excellent at presenting. It gives you the same pleasure as reading a book by an author who uses the english language effortlessly.

If you haven’t seen the presentation yet, you can view it at the following link.

Dave makes the funny point of how the Agile movement first had to take a verb and turn it into a noun. No small feat to be sure. šŸ™‚

Presentation Recap

The first part of the presentation is a tongue-in-cheek view of the past history of the business of Agile. It is a very humourous romp through history. Very entertaining and Dave is such a great presenter you really wonder if he is joking or not. It takes us to get to about the 15:00 mark until Dave lets us in on the joke.

The Heart of it

Dave makes the point that we are taking what was a very valuable set of values and degrading it. Dave then states that it is time to reclaim Agility and take it back. Specifically, “It is time to take it back and deny the people who tell us how to do it”


There has been so much talk in Agile lately that unless you are doing some methods with no accommodation, you are not Agile. Not doing User Story Mapping? You are not Agile. Don’t have a true flow process in place? You are not Agile. Still Estimating? You are not Agile. Just doing iteration and mini-waterfalls? You are definitely not Agile and should do the walk of shame.

Agile Definition

Dave then gives us the best definition of Agile I have ever seen. He states that Agility is following these steps:

  1. Find out where you are
  2. Take a small step towards your goal
  3. Adjust your understanding based on what you learned
  4. Repeat

Simple. Right?

The hard part is all of us need to take the Agile Movement back from the precipice of being a noun and make it a verb once again. The Agile Manifesto understood this. Every principle had a continuum and action implied. They never said thou shalt never do Contract Negotiation again, but that we should move towards Customer Collaboration. Implied in that is that we should be always moving, improving, and adjusting.

I’ll go a step further. The Agile Manifesto should have a fifth principle added. The first four are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

And I’ll state we should add a fifth

  • Seek to Understand and Coach peopleĀ over judging and criticizing people


In short, we need to take a noun and turn it back into a verb. Agile isn’t something to achieve. Agility is a state of mind about constant improvement no matter where you currently are. Some of us are in Texas and some of us are in France just based upon the context of our projects, teams. and clients. We should always seek to understand each other and help to coach them. But always respect where they are first.

This blog post came about by reading Mike Cohn’s blog – “An Interative Waterfall isn’t Agile“. Ā Instead of judging each other we need to help each other and if some people have just made the step to Iterative Waterfall… well God Bless them..

About Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio has worked for Protegra for 14+ years because of the professionalism, people, and culture. Terry started as a software developer and found his technical calling in Data Architecture. Terry has helped to create Enterprise Operational Data Stores and Data Warehouses for the Financial and Insurance industries. Along the way Terry discovered that he enjoys helping to build teams, grow client trust and encourage individual career growth, completing project deliverables, and helping to guide solutions. It seems that some people like to call that Project Management. As a practical Data Modeller and Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Data Modelling and Agile. Terry considers himself a born again agilist as Agile implemented according to the Lean Principles has made him once again enjoy Software Development and believe in what can be accomplished. Terry is a fan of Agile implemented according to the Lean Principles, the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, Operational Data Stores, 4th Normal Form, and asking why


One thought on “#Agile’s dirty little secret

  1. Good article – I often have to battle dogmatic (pseudo) agile. People need to remember the meaning of the noun.

    Posted by Michael Ebbage | September 11, 2015, 11:59 pm

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