I’ll start this post acknowledging that maybe I’m just naive and optimistic, but I seem to have a different perspective regarding the agile community. I will also recognize that there are many aspects that I’m just not privy too: conflicts, history, etc that can have a deeper impact in someone’s perspective. Even with that said, I’m still going to talk about it…
I often read or hear about how the Agile movement has been ruined. There are a couple of points that people make frequently that bother me:
- Developers started Agile, now Management has overtaken it. I’ve already posted about my angst towards not supporting manager growth. That aside, to declare the Agile Manifesto creators only as “developers’ is false. They are leaders. We want leaders from a variety of specializations to produce our ultimate goal…building valuable software. My manager title doesn’t mean I care any less about that goal. Do I agree that developers are attending certain conferences less? Absolutely, so help to bring back quality technical sessions to those conferences. Don’t just fly in for the session, rant on this topic of developers not being here, and fly right back out after your session. Stay and help make a difference.
- If you attend, you are just drinking the kool-aid. Personally, I don’t like kool-aid. I didn’t as a kid and I still don’t. Is there enjoyment in talking with people that align with your values and principles? Absolutely but what I love the most is when I’m challenged by these same individuals to go further with the experiment. They help me test my assumptions. They help me try to be a better leader in software development. I don’t walk around and say “well, he said that so it must be true”. It’s information. You as an individual determine whether that information is kool-aid or not.
- I don’t go to sessions now. I get it. I was momentarily guilty of this myself. You are an experienced speaker. You may have written a book. You may have been doing this for a very long time. So what you are saying is you have nothing to learn? I call bullsh*t and had to on myself. Sure, I’ve gone to a session where the speaker stinks. I leave and find another session. I’ve gone to a session where I could have given the session but I try really hard to find something that I can adapt/leverage/learn from. I am more experienced and shouldn’t expect everything to be an ah-ha moment but that doesn’t mean the time spent was worthless. Now, I typically find a nugget or two in most sessions. It’s my job to find those nuggets of inspiration and I can’t do that if I only talk to certain people. And if you really still think everything on the program is beneath your learning, help raise the bar in sessions. Don’t submit the introduction to user stories session yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely value the hallway chats. But I absolutely value when I walk into a session and I see well-known people in the community there to learn. Their attendance helps raise the bar of the session. And they are on the top of my list for people I want to keep learning from.
- It’s just a business now. I remember as a practitioner thinking “everyone here is now an Agile coach and most of them don’t seem to know what they are doing”. I don’t begrudge anyone that is making money – whether from writing a book, selling training, coaching, etc. Sure, just like any field, we have our top skilled people and people that shouldn’t be doing this job. I guess none of this bothers me because it doesn’t impact my learning. Can it hurt the “brand” of Agile? Maybe…even probably. Yet, it doesn’t matter. The community is not about being loyal to Agile. It’s about improving software development. I can’t speak for anyone else but I couldn’t go back even if I tried.
So why does this bother me so much? At my very first Agile conference, I overhead a well-known individual in the community rant on and on about who this speaker even was and why they were allowed to speak. It really annoyed me. It felt like this was an invite only club, which seemed completely counter to what I was understanding. This experience has absolutely stayed with me. For every speaker willing to engage with people, I was relieved. For every speaker, willing to learn from others, I was relieved. For every speaker, helping to raise the bar in terms of information, I was grateful. I don’t want to be the person, who presents themselves as too good for this. I don’t want to be the person, who adds to the problem. I want to be the person trying to make today’s reality better. I want to be able to engage with other people invested in helping the software development industry.
Why? Because I truly believe I’m not just a better leader in software development but a better person from my learning within this community. I thought about how to get the job done at any cost. Now I consider the cost. Maybe I would have learned that without the agile community but I’m glad to have had the support and encouragement from the community while I learned.
So I choose to stay involved, to try to make things better. Will you?