Let’s face it. There are lots of people with good ideas and a great ability to share their thoughts in an effective manner.
However many “movements” have their more radical Zealot side, and that is certainly a factor in the “Agile” movement.
Many Scrumdamentalists and XP Zealots — and that unfortunately includes practioners at the highest levels, often engage in flawed rhetoric and dysfunctional communication patterns in their online discourse.
Any self organizing team is going to have internal debates amongst themselves.
These debates internally must be conducted in a positive and productive manner; one would hope that these types of good debate techniques would be instilled as “Scrum” or “XP” or even “Agile” philosophy and their students trained in good techniques.
Unfortunately many “Scrum” and “XP” luminaries, as well as their newly minted “Masters” have demonstrated that they use flawed logic and conversational antipatterns that any self respecting team should reject as a matter of policy.
Although it has been been pointed out that it is not only “the Church of Scrum” that suffers from these anti-patterns, and that is true, few groups seem to rely on these anti-patterns as almost the norm.
Go read a Scrum blog, remove everything that falls into one of these patterns, and see if there is any content left.
Some examples of these Anti Patterns
1) Grandstanding — Example: “Everyone knows that …” “All professional programmers …”
2) Firebreathing — Demonizing the opposition — “All Waterfall projects fail”…”That’s Waterfall thinking”..”If you don’t do X, you’re not doing Scrum”….”People who don’t adopt Scrum will fail at the project/or individual professional level”…etc
3) Humiliation/Bullying/Fear Uncertainty and Doubt/Ad Hominems — the above quotes illustrate that as well as “If you don’t adopt XYZ practice, you will fail”, “You’re not a team player”, “You just don’t want to change”, “You’re not a top developer”, etc.
4) Wanton Disregard of the Facts — “All Waterfall projects fail” “Major Releases are a Curse on Mankind”…. Wow I guess that Windows 7 was that curse that all the Vista people had been waiting for…and those pyramids never got built.
5) Emotional Appeals — “Just try Scrum!” “It works, trust me” “This is the way to organizational enlightenment”
6) Irrelevent Parables based on New Age/Eastern Thinking — instead of a cogent argument, an irrelevant reference to fortune cookie level “eastern” thinking is quoted. This smoke and mirrors approach is widely used. “Origami masters teach us that…”
7) Demanding Proof of others but supplying none themselves — This is all too common. The agile zealot will demand proof from others but supply none themselves. When asked to be specific they will respond with “you’re not in a learning space” or “you’re not open to a new approach”
8 ) Suppression/Removing your ability to comment — “You haven’t tried microwave pudding….so how can you say that it’s not tasty”…”You’re not shu-ha-ri enough”…”You haven’t done Scrum for 10 years so how can you say this is a waste of time”…etc..
This is especially hypocritical, since whatever product you are creating, hasn’t been done before, ergo, noone can talk about it… Clever.
9) Personality Cult — “Rush Agile-Author teaches that…” “The manifesto informs us that….” “Some books say that…” “Many people trying to sell us something claim that…”
10) Censorship — Unfortunately, many popular Scrum and XP blogs/etc routinely censor postings that question anything about the process. This creates an illusion that everyone agrees with the party line. Many people including luminaries have reportedly been banned from various Scrum, etc, discussion groups. Whatever happened to courage, trust, introspection and transparency?
11) One sided “research” — Many documents purporting to be “research” or analysis are nothing but one sided pieces created by the vendors themselves…using questionable datasets and small sample sizes. There is little (if any) credible third party or academic evidence to support the positions espoused by these people so they create their own research and use it to support their sales efforts.
12) Falsely claiming that someone is using one of these anti patterns- is also an anti pattern.
13) The One True Way — the mistaken belief that there is one best way to accomplish development, and that one true way is applicable and best for every situation
14) Extrapolation — “it worked for XYZ therefore that means it will work for …” Lots of things work for some people; that doesn’t mean that it will work for everyone. What’s best for a small web shop might be completely inappropriate for a larger organization, etc. It is an anti-pattern to assume that since something (allegedly) worked that that means others who adopt it will attain similar success.
etc…) I could go on and on.
When I wrote this piece originally I had not yet seen this video, which uses many of the above mentioned anti patterns.
Trust me, when you have your team discussing whether they should do X or Y, you would want them to have a resonable discourse! That means
1) Respecting the opposition
2) Realize that there are multiple paths to success for any given problem
3) Decisions will be made based on reason and practicality, not on academic, philosophical, bullying, emotion, demonizing or any of the above mentioned anti patterns.
4) Argue your case — nicely — supported by facts.
I look for more suggestions on how to improve discourse.
I also look for Scrum and XP leaders to be mindful of how they conduct themselves in their online discourse.
It certainly hurts the credibility of the movement, when a mockery is made of words like “trust, honesty, transparency, courage” etc are used by these individuals one minute, and rhetorical anti-patterns or actions that demonstrate the opposite the next.
And I would certainly be wary of hiring any “Certified Master” who has been indoctrinated in harmful conversational antipatterns by these Trainers who have demonstrated that they use dysfunctional antipatterns as a routine matter – that would be an impediment to any smooth running team.