7 Agile Myths That Could Cost You Your Job & Reputation

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. “

Winston Churchill

The famous writer Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

In other words, what we think we know can sometimes keep us from knowing what we need to know.

Let me demonstrate this by asking you a simple question:

What animal is king of the jungle?

Everyone knows the correct answer is “Lion”, right?

But there’s a fundamental flaw with this answer.

Do you know what it is?

The fundamental flaw is . . .

Lions don’t live in the jungle.

They never have.

Their natural habitat is, and has always been, the savannah and grasslands. And although they might occasionally venture into the bush or forest, most lions have never seen a jungle, let alone been in one.

That’s an example of how what we think we know can prevent us from knowing what we need to know.

So before we take a look at the techniques and strategies that will give you more power & influence in your organisation and greater control over your career, let’s start by first dispelling 7 common Agile myths that could cost you your job and reputation.

Myth 1 – Agile Is a Methodology

Contrary to popular belief Agile is not a methodology.

It is, however, an umbrella term used to collectively refer to a number of incremental processes and methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, XP, DSDM, Behaviour Driven Design (BDD) and Test Driven Development (TDD).

And although each methodology may adopt a different approach to software development, in reality there’s not much difference between them because they’re all value driven and able to respond quickly to change.

Hence they are Agile.

In fact, Agile Manifesto author and XP co-creator Ron Jefferies once told me that upon reflection, he and the other manifesto authors wished they had done more in the early years of Agile to emphasise the similarities between the methodologies – because today, too much focus is placed on their differences instead of what they all have in common.

Hopefully this will change with time.

Myth 2 – Agile Can Only Be Used On Software Development Projects

Looking at the origins of Agile it’s easy to see why some people have this misconception. That’s because Agile was originally conceived to address the costly issues associated with software development projects. And since then it has mainly been used on those types of projects.

However, because of the cost savings and competitive benefits experienced by many software development companies using it over the last 10 years or so, Agile has now evolved into wider areas, including product development (e.g. iPhone), finance, marketing, education, military and even politics.

In fact, in order to increase their market share and strategic position, many industry leading organisations are also successfully applying Agile concepts at the enterprise level.

So the next time someone tells you Agile can only be used on software development projects, if they’re your competitor, agree with them.

Otherwise, enlighten them and direct them to this post 🙂

Myth 3 – Agile Methods Do Not Require Documentation

Another myth is that Agile projects are not supported by any documentation.

This is commonly the result of a general misunderstanding of the Agile Manifesto value stated as “Working software over comprehensive documentation.”

But what people are missing is that the Agile Manifesto also states, “While there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Agile projects do require documentation, and the focus is on providing the right level of documentation at the right time so the development teams have exactly what they need when they need it in order to complete the tasks at hand.

This “lightweight” approach eliminates the time and financial waste associated with creating “heavyweight” two hundred and fifty page documents that most people won’t even read.

Myth 4 – Labelling It ‘Agile’ Makes It Agile

As Agile practices grow in popularity, more and more organisations are becoming aware of the benefits Agile has to offer.

But rather than making the necessary organisational, cultural, and environmental changes required to achieve those benefits, many organisations are simply slapping “Agile” related labels on what they’re already doing — thinking that makes them Agile.

And when things don’t turn out as expected, Agile gets the blame.

But just as calling a dog a cat doesn’t make it so, re-labelling traditional software development methods “Agile” does not make them Agile. It takes more than that.

Myth 5 – Agile Projects Are Not Planned

Born out of the misunderstanding of another Agile Manifesto value, “responding to change over following a plan,” according to this myth, Agile projects are unplanned.

This is far from the truth because successful Agile projects are planned.

And unlike traditional projects where plans tend to be more rigid, recognising the wisdom in the military philosophy that “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”, Agile plans are more flexible.

And it’s this flexibility that makes Agile practices adaptable to changing requirements and fast paced industries.

Myth 6 – Agile is a ‘Silver Bullet’

Because of the number of success stories directly resulting from the use of Agile practices, many organisations see Agile as being the answer to all their project problems.

Yes, Agile is a proven way of increasing quality, cutting costs and getting a quicker return on investment.

However, it’s just as likely to expose all the underlying cultural, political, operational and even ‘people’ related issues that might be the root cause of those problems.

Unfortunately, many organisations are not ready to even admit that they have those issues, let alone address them.

That’s why it’s important to understand that Agile is not a silver bullet — because failing to do so could cost you dearly; like it has many others.

And if you ‘sell’ Agile to your organisation or clients as the solution to all project woes — only for them to find out otherwise after they have committed the necessary time and resources — it could cost you your credibility and job in the long run.

And you wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?

Therefore, be aware that although Agile has the potential to give your organisation a significant competitive advantage, it is not a silver bullet.

Myth 7 – Agile Is a ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Solution

Typically propagated by extreme Agile Evangelist’s and Zealots, according to this myth, Agile must be done in a specific way – every time, in every instance.

And any deviation from this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to Agile is often viewed as a blasphemous crime punishable by ostracism, enforced by a decree stating “that’s not how you do Agile!!!

But what these Zealots often do not realise is the fact that prescribed approaches tend to only work in situations where all related factors are constant or controlled (e.g. on a manufacturing line).

And because this is rarely the case in complex, dynamic, fast changing environments (and every organisation, department and project is different), market leading companies tend to tailor Agile to meet their specific business, cultural and environmental needs.

For example, the Agile flavour at Google differs from how Agile is implemented at Microsoft. And both Google and Microsoft’s approach to Agile greatly differs from Spotify’s unique approach to Agile.

Now don’t get me wrong – when first transitioning to Agile it’s advisable to stick as close as possible to the prescribed processes of your chosen methodology. But once you and your team are mature in using that methodology, it’s okay to adapt it to suit your specific organisational and project constraints.

That’s because Agile methodologies are not intended to be restrictive – but rather to give you a framework within which to operate. And understanding the principles underlying your chosen methodology will give you the flexibility to adapt and respond to a wider range of situations – thereby enabling you to ‘be’ Agile.

And now that we’ve dispelled some of the most common Agile myths, it’s time for you to discover exactly how Agile can give you greater job security, quicker promotions, and increased income.


Extract taken from Waterfall to Agile: A Practical Guide to Agile Transition. To discover how software development, product development and business professionals are using Waterfall to Agile to have greater job security, more power & influence and earn more money, click here.


“This book is an essential read for anyone thinking of implementing Agile in their organisation. Having attempted to introduce Agile into my organisation last year, which to a large extent has not born the fruit i had hoped. If i had read this book beforehand i think i would have had a greater liklihood of success as it details the prerequisites and pitfalls of going Agile. As the book outlines a lot of going Agile is preparation, communication, getting the right people on board and maintining momentum, to a large extent change management. An excellent and informative read.” ~ Nick Horne

“The cover of this book states it’s a “practical guide”, which you see often. In this case I found it’s the truth as finally (!) I have read a book on Agile that gives me direct usable practical tips. These tips will be useful in day to day work and align with the more theoretical books I’ve read on Agile. Small, comprehensive chapters make it an easy read and a must for anybody who wants to know more about Agile.” ~ Ludo Mo

Click here for more reviews 


3 Responses to 7 Agile Myths That Could Cost You Your Job & Reputation

  1. […] in your comments. “7 Agile Myths That Could Cost You Your Job & Reputation” –  http://agiletv.com/dispelling-7-common-agile-myths/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Agile […]

  2. There must be something wrong with the thing that cannot be understood correctly by most and needs so much of explanation.

    • Ade Shokoya says:

      Interesting point Putcha. And based on that logic, I guess we can also add quantum physics, electricity and politics (to name a few) to the list of things “that cannot be understood correctly by most and needs so much of explanation”

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