The Mysterious Case of the ‘Agile’ Duck

Baby-DuckMy son will be 3 next month.

And he’s currently at the stage of language development where he generalises.

Which makes for some very interesting — sometimes embarrassing — moments.

For example, whilst walking down the street the other day we saw an elderly man. And being the friendly type he is, my son waved to him and said “Hello Grandad” — even though the man was a complete stranger and definitely not one of his granddads.

But my son’s current level of logical thinking led him to generalise that since both his grandad’s are elderly, then all elderly men must be ‘Grandads’ too.

Now here’s the thing…

…although such generalisations made by toddlers developing language skills might be acceptable (even laughable), the same cannot always be said when illogical conclusions are drawn by adults — especially those expected to know better.

Let’s take Agile implementation for example…

Some companies believe that despite the fact they’re doing ‘Big Up Front Design’ and following the Waterfall sequential development model, as long as they have a stand-up’ every morning then they’re doing ‘Agile’.

Or treating developers as ‘code monkeys’ and subjecting them to demoralising ‘command & control’ management is ‘Agile’ — because those disempowered teams are co-located in the same corner (or basement, with no windows)

Or changing a title from ‘Project Manager’ to ‘ScrumMaster’ makes a Waterfall project ‘Agile’ — even though everything else stays exactly the same.

And then when the project goes ‘belly-up’ poor old Agile gets the blame.

Personally, I’m not bothered what people call their software development process.

Because for me, it’s all about results.

And as long as the process output creates value for the customer and achieves the desired business objectives, you can call it ‘Super Cala Fragilistic Expialidocious’ for all I care.

But if you (or your organisation) are drawing any of the above conclusions (or something similar), it might be worth remembering that…

…if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck! 

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