Retrospecting my blog


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About postagilist

Architect, Manager, Developer, Musician, Post-Agile thought leader
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16 Responses to Retrospecting my blog

  1. I consider this blog required reading. It’s the only one I know of so far that’s totally dedicated to Post-Agilism.

    While googling recently for anything Post-Agilism-related, I eventually got to a single blog-post (not an entire blog) about Post-Agilism; it said something about two guys who together had come up with the term Post-Agile, back in 2006. That’s seven years ago! I guess that first wave of criticism of, and resistance to, Agile just didn’t “take”. How unfortunate!

    Currently, I’m struggling with the latest website-project I’ve contributed to that’s suffering (maybe even more so than usual for these days) from some of the worst possible effects of “Agile”. A key issue with this project is the Agile notion of so-called “emergent design”, the problems with which this blog has highlighted, as I recall.

    It was seemingly believed that the client would simply let us know what they thought of what we’d delivered as we delivered it Sprint-by-Sprint (but without our really designing it first, not even per-Sprint); and then, as needed, we’d “refactor/bug-fix” til the cows came home, until they were happy with something we’d delivered. But, really, we just under-architected and under-engineered the site, and the effects of that is what the client is now coping with: technical Whack-a-Mole til the cows come home; some 300+ outstanding tickets in the issue-tracking system (mostly bugs, many of them critical), holding up development of V2 features.

    So, while continuing to do my part of the technical Whack-a-Mole efforts I’m forced to resort to thanks to Agile, I come to this site to seek knowledge and inspiration and encouragement for my efforts to help move the industry beyond Agile.

    • postagilist says:

      Well, I feel for you.

      Honestly, I can’t believe how many people buy into Agile/Scrum given the obvious shortcomings it has.

      Have you discussed with them moving away from Agile and into something better? Kanban has some advantages and while I don’t believe it solves everything it’s at least a face saving out for Scrum teams and is easier to modify once the organized has been unscrummed.

      What do you think?

      • I just looked up Kanban. Whatever the development-process particulars (be they those of Kanban or of whatever else), what I want to do is “engineer” things. And I believe that’s what our clients want us to do, too. However, Agile, it seems to me, is not actually conducive to what at least I mean by “engineering”.

        That is, I want to plan out (at least in “top-level” terms) how the various components of the system are expected to interact (maybe even with a rough-sketch diagram or two or three — Heavens!); then, as a team, start building the whole system skeletally, trying to implement the full transactional “round-trip” (in case of e-commerce) as soon as possible; then, demo that skeletal system (maybe the skeletal system can be broken up so parts of it can be demo’d before the full “round-trip” is demo’d (presumably via mocking of relevant third-party systems)); then, pause new development for maybe one work-week to take time, as a team, to develop a reasonable degree of test code-coverage for the system developed thus far (the skeletal system); then, branch for the first substantial feature-set that’s to be added to the skeletal system; and, eventually, do similarly for each such feature-branch as was done during development of the skeletal system, gradually “fleshing out” the system until the client deems it sufficiently feature-rich to warrant launching it.

        All in all, I think Agile is, at best, a distraction from the most important concerns involved in what at least I think of as “engineering”. Maybe good developers cannot be made bad by Agile, but bad developers (“bad” maybe simply because they’re newbies) are not made good by it; to the contrary, to the extent that bad ones focus on the terminology and rituals of Agile, they have less time and mental-focus available for … again …. as I put it … “engineering”. And/or they get the “signal” from Agile that there’s not enough time for what I’m calling “engineering”, and that they, instead, need to just “do the simplest thing that works today; we’ll fix it later if we have to” — though we then always have to do so and it’s usually not as easy to fix as had been presumed.

        Specifically, what can we do to get the industry to actually move beyond Agile and focus (again?) on engineering? What should the Post-Agilist’s action-plan be for that?

        Only one person showed up for my “New York Post-Agilists” Meetup recently. That was the first meeting of it. I suspect people are afraid of “rocking the boat” too much.

      • postagilist says:

        they get the “signal” from Agile that there’s not enough time for what I’m calling “engineering”, and that they, instead, need to just “do the simplest thing that works today; we’ll fix it later if we have to” — though we then always have to do so and it’s usually not as easy to fix as had been presumed.

        Yes well — I went throught this years ago when the mgr called these ‘rework items’ when the team would try that and I would say — there’s always time to do it over but there’s never time to do it right.


        Well see that’s the crux right there — we could call it slackaneering. The future will save us.

        Just like we’ll find the solution to storing nuclear waste — in the future. As long as we don’t have to solve the problem now, we’re fine (til the next sprint, and meanwhile people are posting their resumes on monster as fast as they can).

        So this is why I think that Agile and Scrum are at their heart nihilistic, anarchist, movements who are doomed to failure.

        However if it takes all of IT with it, that will be a bad thing.

        We all need to get the message out; holding hands on a sinking ship chanting kumbaya at the PO’s whip is bad in the short term, but not being able to move to a better farm because they’re all infested with the agile disease is a calamity.

        When they are working at starbuck’s because they thought no expertise and no job titles was cool, then they’ll think, hey maybe I should have gotten that degree or parlayed it into a real position and delivered solid products.


    • postagilist says:

      I think what you are describing is a classic case of what we would call Scrum Meltdown or Agile Meltdown.

      Since, prototyping was never done, and these prototypes were never shown to the customer, and since all experimentation, requirements gathering and execution were all conflated, then, not until the very end (almost like Waterfall 🙂 ) does the system fall apart under the load due to the YAGNI principle and the endless refactorings due to the lack of architecture.

      At that point it’s impossible to fix it — the exact situation Agile was designed to supposedly prevent.

      The fact that Agilists can’t see that meltdown failure mode coming a mile away still boggles my mind…


    • Hans says:

      [edited for focus by PA]
      If you want to vent your frustrations at the obviously dysfunctional, but by no means uncommon or unique project you’re on, Agile is probably a convenient punching bag. If you really want to understand, learn, and improve, you might want to consider what the industry was like before Agile. I’d suggest that your issue isn’t really “agile”, but simply the project doing detrimental things and not recognizing it, or not admitting it. An open, honest reflection on the choices made and their consequences might help. Good luck on your project.

      “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — Santayana

      • postagilist says:

        Hi Hans.

        Welcome to my blog. Most of your comments were mere knee jerk apoplexy relative to the fact that we criticise agile here.

        Playing the apologista card won’t help here — Agile does cause dysfunction, whether you believe it or not.

        Trying to gussy things up in new age clothing is not going to help either… (your Santayana quote)

        I don’t know if you are the same Hans that says on their linkedin profile that “they want to work in a Scrum shop that is not incremental waterfalls” — well — good luck with that.

        Scrum *IS* mini waterfalls – I cover that and most of your “bleatings” (sorry but I’m being honest here) as well as the newage garbage in my postings here.

        Your pablum about “oh it’s about the project not Agile” could surely be applied to “waterfall” as well. Sure a bad project is going to suck, but agile/scrum is a tremendous enabler of suck. If you want to, go ahead and prove that you are impartial by defending waterfall against these same claims.

        Read more, type less, learn more. HTH

        FWIW this particular post is designed to inform me what I can do to improve my blog, not to wage war about methodologies.


      • I better add my “two cents” about this now.
        As others have pointed out, it’s noteworthy that so much heated emotion is evoked by, of all things, a software-development methodology. That’s the same kind of emotion that’s evoked by discussions/arguments about one or another religion.
        But we’re engineers, aren’t we? We’re, in a sense, of a certain type of applied scientist, no? Don’t we engineers all love the special moments in the history of science and in that of technology that have been highlighted by the academicians (and by The History Channel, for that matter)? Galileo and all that? T. S. Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and “paradigm-shifts” and all that?
        Bertholt Brecht, in his play about Galileo, has Galileo, right after his recantation, simply whisper “… but it does move.”. He doesn’t have Galileo go out on the street ranting and raving about original sin or what not.
        I’m an engineer. I studied computer science (10 years ago). I started professionally in website-development in the summer of ’97 — before (as I’ve put it before) the “Advent” of Agile. So, yes, I have direct personal experience of what came before Agile. We used it (i.e., we used what came before Agile) on, which we, at, where I was working at that time, launched in the Spring of 2001 (it turned out to be a Death-March, by the way). So, I do have a means for comparison.
        I’ve been specific about what’s wrong with Agile: e.g., “emergent design”, “the code is the design”, etc. That said, overall, it’s a matter of mindset, not so much a matter of the specific values, principles or practices of Agile. That mindset, in my experience, encourages the taking of shortcuts which compromise quality – this in the interest of beating the (I think, especially — at least originally — the offshore) competition to the finish-line, but while ending up with that “Whack-a-Mole” problem I’ve mentioned. recently automatically informed me of a new Meetup about “Software Craftsmanship”. I’ve joined that Meetup, and I plan to attend it’s first meeting soon, next month. Though I’m wary of the fact that it has it’s own “manifesto”, so it could be yet another software-development orthodoxy, it does seem to be trying to address some of the issues I have (and, I believe, that the owner of this blog has) with Agile.
        If that “software craftsmanship” movement turns out to be, indeed, another orthodoxy, then, I expect, I’ll — so to speak — whisper “… but it does move” and move on, continuing to seek a software-development paradigm that better serves my clients.

      • postagilist says:

        I’m not sure religion is the driver here.

        Money is the driver here. Religion is used by the Agile Mafia Inc to try to make it seem like they have an agenda besides money, similar to how the Republican Party Operates.

        Also they use that as a suppression technique — You aren’t pious if you aren’t agile.

        Re the “Craftsmanship movement”….. I think you’ll find that it’s XP lite. It’s just “you’re not a Craftsman if you don’t unit test everything”. The Emergent design stuff is still there.

        It came about because the founder of the craftsmanship movement (“Uncle Bob” Martin) was losing revenues to scrum when XP imploded and tried to do something to regain marketshare, especially after his lead puppy, Ron Jeffries, sold himself to the Scrum movement wholeheartedly (But he has a nice car from what I hear).

        Luckily on my latest project I was able to slam the brakes on the manager desire to go Scrum and actually almost all of the team was against scrum to begin with.

        The tide is turning.

        How are your postagile meetups going?

      • @PA: “How are your postagile meetups going?”
        I admit that, since only one person showed up for my first post-agile meetup, I’ve not been very motivated to schedule the next one. Then again, I did make the mistake of scheduling the first one for a Friday night — at a bar, no less! Duh!

        Definitely let me know if/when you ever make it to NYC. I’d make special arrangements for a post-agile meetup that you could attend, if you wanted to. Indeed, if I could announce in advance that you’d be at the next one, then, with the help of a reference to your blog, that might draw more people.

      • postagilist says:

        Sure …I’m in cali tho so unlikely I will get there soon… @/

        Maybe try to do it after work on a Wednesday and see how it goes! Midtown or Fin disctrict might work; at a corp with a whiteboard and coffee might help versus bar..

        I’m curious because I think if a format can be done it can possibly be replicated… Maybe see what dates/times/locations other meetups use… I myself am new to the meetup type stufff — I’m sure it’s great but I don’t have a lot of experience to share with you here.

        Some meetup venues most likely are more successful than others so someinsight into this area is probably valuable.

        I dont’ think you have to log the hottest bar but probably the most convenient location/night in your area is a good place to start.

        Re Bar alcohol might turn off some prospectants (not me!) but maybe something more neutral.


  2. Hans says:

    “Most of your comments were mere knee jerk apoplexy relative to the fact that we criticise agile here.”

    Wow, just wow. Trying to improve your blog, eh? I guess your readers will have to take your word on the extent of my apoplexy, since they can’t read my words for themselves. Most of my comments, which you edited away, were simply my observations on other possible sources of Larry’s frustration, hoping to show those things existed long before agile. I was there. I believe I didn’t even mention agile until the only part you kept, which shows how knee-jerk and intellectually dishonest you are. (Sorry, but I’m being honest here.)

    [So Am I — this is called Astroturfing — go google it or search for it on my blog — also — ahem — I kept the part that was germane, see edited for focus above — PA]

    I hardly feel agile would solve Larry’s problems, but I strongly feel they persist regardless of it. You apparently can’t stand that possibility.

    “Your pablum about “oh it’s about the project not Agile” could surely be applied to “waterfall” as well.”

    Resorting to pejorative language shows civil discourse is beyond you. You’re too afraid to let my points stand for themselves without you controlling the content and spinning it to have your way. Your mealy “this particular post is designed to inform me” rationale, while you and Larry commiserate off-topic with each other in this very post, and your incessantly abusive style, shows how interested you are in improving your blog. Good luck with that. Enjoy your little kingdom and your fight against the Great Enemy.

    • postagilist says:

      Indeed. Actually I just try to edit the froth for readership but if you feel I’m afraid, here you are, unvarnished.

      What do you have to tell us besides you are indignant? I don’t see anything besides that. If your butt is hurt too bad; if you have a solution tell us about it.

      Pablum is so abusive is it? You don’t have a response so you complain yet again that I’m a “meany”.

      Your logic is bankrupt. Hitler/Agile aren’t so bad, after all it’s hard to be a politician, and it was worse in Caesar’s day. Stalin and Waterfall are just as bad so Larry should just accept it.

      What surprises people like you is that the broken logic that works with your flock doesn’t work with the rest of the world. Go figure?

      • ljl_geek says:

        I figure you’re wasting your time with Hans, here. He’s what us old farts call a “true believer” – his mind is made up, don’t challenge him with any facts that don’t support his forgone conclusion.

  3. ljl_geek says:

    Hi. I just discovered your blog today, as I was frustratedly searching for companies that have moved beyond the Agile Scrum baloney that infects Silicon Valley and makes working in tech increasingly more miserable.

    First it’s universal, top-down “Thou shalt do Agile as Scrum” to all departments, even the ones that it doesn’t work for from the word go. You gain another manager – the Product Manager, but don’t get rid of your regular one. Plus, the Team lead morphs into the “Scrum Master”, and now you answer to three people every day about what you did the day before. Then it’s pull out all the cubes and put in rows of desks like a call-center, making you bump into and hear, smell and see your coworkers all day, and they pass you off with a line of bullshit that it is “collaborative” and innovative”. Then it’s ban you from working at home, because they want to track your every keystroke, but shine you on by saying it’s to increase “spontaneous interactions” and “synergy”.

    The fact that some of these fools believe that this will make great software is maddening. I work in operations, where they throw the effluent of their “sprints” over the wall and expect us to make garbage work like clockwork. We file bugs, they ignore them because the business wants shiny new features and there isn’t time in their little time boxes to do both. Then they demand that we create the monitoring and metrics on their steaming piles so that we can prove that it doesn’t work, because it compiled and ran fine on their test boxes, but it fails horribly in production when rolled out to hundreds of boxes and thousands of users.

    What ever happened to common sense? Is it not buzzwordy enough? Didn’t these idiots ever hear of design before you build, and “measure twice, cut once” (plan comes before implementation).

    The post you had that highlighted strategy versus tactics in software development is spot on. Yeah, the monolithic strategic plan of waterfall is a bit more than needed if it doesn’t allow fotr tactical changes of updates. But the constant tactical planless wandering of Scrum has no goal or overall strategy, other than “Let’s be Agile, and Do Scrum!!!!”.

    Anyway, thanks for the blog.

    • postagilist says:

      It’s amazing what people fall for…or claim to fall for….

      Open offices are not about collaboration — it’s to let the big boss see who is in the office at a glance. Empty chair and you’re in trouble.

      The agile believers sell themselves as incompetent slaves yet believe they are enobled by this tripe.

      Their can be nothing more humiliating than standing up to justify your existence every day and working in a fish bowl…. It’s everything that a monster manager could desire, and these engineers walk themselves into the pen and claim it’s somehow a good thing?


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