Understanding the psychology of dogma and “purists” in Scrum and other movements

There has been a lot of discussion lately related to the dogma and zealotry of some in the Scrum community.

I’ve given some thought to this lately and have come to the following conclusion:

Dogma and Zealotry is merely a way for the fundamentalists to evade (and deny) any self doubt they might ever have about the subject, both in themselves and in their followers.

Consider a practioner who is “open minded” and feels that, for instance, Scrum is appropriate in 80% of projects, but not in the other 20%.

Now, consider an implementation that is going badly; this open minded practitioner might at some point experience doubt, and specifically self doubt. Should she really be using Scrum? Did she make a wrong decision in recommending it?

This might be uncomfortable for that person.

What to do? Simple — become a zealot/purist, and convince yourself there is only one way and it is universally applicable!

Now there is no self doubt. Clever eh?

However by doing so one has completely closed their mind to the consideration of alternate ideas. Instead of thinking outside the box, they are thinking solely inside a narrow box.

Being closed minded is not a good path for Software Development; people who have intentionally closed their minds should be viewed with great caution.

Additionally this train of thought can be applied to every type of fundamentalism, relighous, political whatever. Being a purist simply means that you are not burdened or troubled by self doubt.

Stronger personality types are not saddled by such constraints.

Your thoughts?


About postagilist

Architect, Manager, Developer, Musician, Post-Agile thought leader
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2 Responses to Understanding the psychology of dogma and “purists” in Scrum and other movements

  1. almgren4711 says:

    Ho PostAgilist. I think there are 2 types of people who stray from the purist way. And only one of them good. If you know the purist way and you have examined it and reached the conclusion that you need something other/similar and do a change. Then you have considered the options and reached your best way of doing stuff after thinking both inside and outside the box.

    If however you just glance at the theory and then modify it without having a really god grasp of it then you are just lazy (and these people are out there).

    The hard part is to separate those two groups:-)

    • PostAgilist says:

      Hi Almgren

      You seem to be talking about “non purists” who either do or do not consider alternatives.

      I’m primarily talking about purists, who delierately choose not to consider alternatives..


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