Agile

Dave Farley and Allen Holub: Agile & Scrum – what doesn’t work

Yesterday I caught up with an interesting and wide ranging discussion between Dave Farley and Allen Holub about “Agile & Scrum – what doesn’t work”.

I find the title of the episode slightly surprising.

In the age of “what can we take away from this” I would expect it to be “what does and what doesn’t work” because both the parties agree that at least the Agile Manifesto is good. It is indeed still a well-intentioned, short document which still applies.

A few other nice takeaways from that part of the discussion.

Andy Hunt (original signatory of the Agile manifesto):

to most people “agile” means half of scrum done poorly, plus Jira

Martin Fowler on SaFE:

“Shitty agile for enterprises”

And finally a reminder to us all that Scrum is a Business. The Scrum Guide changes like the wind, while the original still has merits and personally I have nothing particularly against Scrum (used appropriately and loosely) it’s obvious to us all it’s a business which makes money from selling certifications and training which doesn’t directly contribute to the bottom line of companies.

Whatever you think of Allen Holub, he certainly doesn’t pull any punches in his assessments of how organisations implement Scrum and Agile. It’s interesting to get his take on frameworks, processes and particularly metrics.

No Metrics?

Allen is seemingly not in favour of any measures which can be turned into a way to hold the developers to account. In fact, in general, I find Allen’s take a little too ‘developer protective’. While I get his rant about not making developers or DevOps ‘accountable’ for certain parts of functionality – I believe you shouldn’t protect developers and engineers from the reality of the business. Without the business a developer doesn’t get paid. If you can afford to be pure about software development then you have deep pockets and a lot of trust.

For me, it’s clear that you cannot stick your head in the sand and build software without being at least partly accountable for it. This is the nature of creativity – you create something it’s a part of you. I talked about this just yesterday.

Dave has also previously talked about the idea of being held to professional standards as a software developer so I guess there’s still some work to find the path between the creative space that Allen craves and the responsibility that I think we all feel as developers.

All in all, despite agreeing on lots I feel that there is plenty of tension in this episode. Watch the whole thing if you dare!



Related articles