Broken promise of Agile

AgileManifesto was written 17 years back(i.e 2001) and is it able to bring the change to industry ?

I would say yes but not is the way authors wanted.

Many consulting company made millions of $ but as software engineer i did not see the change.

How did Agile broke promise
Broken Agile

I will put key things that authors wanted so we have some context to discuss about this

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

This looks so good :-)

Lets start with education industry

“Attend Agile training for 2 days and you are certified Scrum master or Agile Developer”

What did people learn after these workshop ? Standup, Planning Poker, retrospective , backlog grooming , JIRA and many more things.

One thing that is missing is
“Agile mindset” , no one can teach or learn this in 2 days so it is big joke that you team went to expensive training and they are Agile Team.

Lets go over main items so see how industry see main goals of Agile

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Almost all the team got this wrong, they thought we need more tools JIRA was born, industry created big ceremony(backklog groming, standup, reto etc)

I think have too many things in JIRA tell only one thing that software quality is bad or team is too slow to delivery features or product team is creating shopping list of features that they never wanted.

Now it has gone to extend that you need multiple product owner for just grooming session and scrum masters for running retrospective meeting and to add more project manager to track story points/burn down etc.

Team is spending more time on Jira board rather than talking to team. We killed individual& interactions .

How many tools or process we added ? it is count less .

  • Working software over comprehensive documentation

People got confused with this and they said i need working software + document. Now nothing got done properly and some team will come and say we are AgileWater it mean we build software fast but also use documents that is required for waterfall.

Developer endup doing more non productive work.

Working Software was also take as team is allowed to release crap in production because we are Agile.

What was meant by working software was MVP not 20% or 40% developed item, feature is done or not done there is nothing like 50% when that feature is released to production.

Team is put in so much pressure to release that they end up taking shortcut and to address that “Tech Debt” drive is required.

When software team goes to product to get fund/approval to fix all the Tech Debt then team comes and say why did you develop & deploy crap piece of software.

  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

This is classic customer used Agile for blackmailing or question team credential to put last minute change. This gives them licences to change the requirement any time.

Not to miss commitment that is taken inform of Story Points and if team miss that then it is expected that they need to put extra hours.

Dev team is not different they use this as excuse to build  bad quality of software.

  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile never said that build feature without tests, architecture or no plan.

Planning is must and good architecture also but it should be Just enough to move in right direction and it is continuous architecture without end state.

Team took this like no design or architecture to response to change.


One of my favorite questions about sprint is

How long is your sprint ?”

2/3 weeks ?

“Why 2 weeks , why not 1 month or 1 year ? who decided this ?”

It is written in Agile manifesto or my manager told this or i don’t know other teams are doing this .

“How long ticket sits in backlog before making to production ?”

I don’t know . Check with my TPM or if some one knows they will come and tell 1 year or 3 year”

Agile was about giving team freedom to choose sprint size based on when they are ready for feedback or customer is ready to give feedback

Sprint can 1 week or 6 months but key point is you should get the feedback after that and adjust.

If customer are not in the feedback loop then go back to waterfall .

Another thing was about Software Craftmanship.

Agile project has so many non developer like Project manager, Project manager, Scrum Master, Agile coach that they don’t value Craftmanship , so we developer start new conference on this and get more disconnected.

Agile was written by developer for developer but now we are out and this place is taking by non-developers .

In Agile Conference ask the question “how many developer? ”

You will see less hands :-( because they are in other craftman conference.

Agile project are about project management, dates, money , time.

Manager makes sure that plan is made by them and followed by team.

Today all project are agile but they still fail, over budget, never on time.

Any process like Agile has one hidden feedback that is called “Dissatisfaction” and you need respond to that change to become better.

Our Software industry has three inevitable things

– Degradation
– Dysfunction
– Expiry

Degradation ->  Maintaining,Transformation
Dysfunction -> Innovation & Challenge
Expiry  -> Creating & Starting over

Degradation ,Dysfunction & Expiry applies to people, project, team,process , strategy , organization.

Agile is no different identify the phase and create version 2 of process or find new one that works.

Published on Java Code Geeks with permission by Ashkrit Sharma, partner at our JCG program. See the original article here: Broken promise of Agile

Opinions expressed by Java Code Geeks contributors are their own.

Ashkrit Sharma

Pragmatic software developer who loves practice that makes software development fun and likes to develop high performance & low latency system.
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Stefan Reich
5 years ago

AI will solve all of this

Dan Allford
Dan Allford
5 years ago
Reply to  Stefan Reich

HAHAHAHAH funniest comment ever. AI = Agile Impotency?

5 years ago

I’d like to be added to the list of post editors.
One thing, I do agree is that Agile is now dominated by non developers. Scientists and Engineers of the 70’s and 80’s had the self-discipline and commitment to focus on a project and finish it. Since when do Engineers get dictated by project managers to do stuff. Sometimes which are even not necessary.

Ashkrit Sharma
Ashkrit Sharma
5 years ago
Reply to  TevinMilla

I would like to add that as engineer we don’t push back enough to PM on delivery or features. Project Manager/Product Owner are so good and they achieve the goal of more features in less time.

No negotiation happens, it is only direction.
Engineer has to become more professional like lawyer or doctor, so that customer has the respect & trust.

5 years ago

Gosh improve your english, I couldn’t read more than a paragraph before quitting.

5 years ago
Reply to  Klod

Thank you for taking time to give feedback.

Steve Randall
5 years ago

Agile ways of working are really just beginning to show results. First conflict: Agile puts customers first, when in most businesses shareholders come first. Second conflict: Agile requires great courageous leadership, and that is something that is missing in most organisations. Third conflict: organisations are still holding on to a ‘lust for certainty.’ The false sense of security from a Gantt chart, a budget and a resource plan, (how could that fail?), what worked last year will work this year type planning, conflicts with Agiles approach of a non linear try and learn culture. It takes time for these things… Read more »

Ashkrit Sharma
Ashkrit Sharma
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve Randall

One more thing that makes agile hard to work is that tech team is seen as cost center and company goal is to cut the cost that means get something out by creating huge tech debt. As good engineering team we have to always make sure that we position our-self as “We are are innovator and enabled company to do business or keep them in business” not “We are partner” “Lust for certainty”is good term and i think it is due to “proxy success” and by thinking that planning is everything not execution. Proxy Success can only take you so… Read more »

5 years ago

People not being able to understand the Agile Principles is not a fault of the Agile Principles, but of the people! You are mistaking the book for the readers.

Also, for Christ sake, please take some time to improve your English. It sounds awful!

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