The Dark Agile cave
2 min read

The Dark Agile cave

We spend so much time talking about agility, how much sense it makes, but it feels an unattainable ideal. We're against an immovable object.
The Dark Agile cave

Image by Robert Jones from Pixabay

Disclaimer: This is a rant.

Here we are, almost 20 years since the Agile Manifesto. I was listening to a podcast with James Shore the other day, he was talking about how the majority of companies haven't bought-in and still haven't applied the principles of the manifesto. It's a bit discouraging. Even if you move eventually to another company, the pool of waterfall or Dark Agile companies is massive and it's pretty easy to identify them, just by looking at the job descriptions or asking simple questions to the engineers or managers.

We spend so much time talking about agility, how much sense it makes and we can even see people from different teams and departments try to move the needle, but it feels an unattainable ideal, that we're against an immovable object. That object is not only the company, or a chief-of or manager, the object is also our own teammates. It's evident to me that the idea of agility is incomprehensible to some, set on their traditional ways but still wishing for the holy grail of delivering fast. Even the developers are "bred" in this dark agile version of the world, when all they've seen or heard is that there's process called X or Y and following it is being "agile", or that stories are this or that or that following this ceremony or that ceremony is enough. They go to other companies, preserving and promoting this deformed Agile god, ingrained so deeply in their beings that just alluding to the real thing is met with complete hostility. It reminds me of the allegory of the cave:

A philosopher aims to understand and perceive the higher levels of reality. However, the other inmates of the cave do not even desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life.

It, honestly, feels so depressing and saddening, for me and other engineers. I arrived at one conclusion: it's futile. There's no hope without the buy-in of the people in power. Only when they, by their own volition, want to change, we can all change. They're the ones setting the values, embodying the real culture, and we, by extension, embody it. They're the ones with the real capacity to take impactful decisions, and while we certainly can spread the word about agility and other sociotechnical things, we can only do so much.