After I read this article in Forbes on “The Case Against Agile: Ten Perennial Management Objections” by Steve Denning, a metaphor occurred to me: what if we think of Agile as jogging?
Most people will agree that jogging has important health benefits – kind of like many will agree that Agile delivers important benefits to the health of your projects (transparency, accountability, productivity, motivation, etc.).
Typically, objections to jogging are not based on a conviction that it is in fact bad for you; rather they are justifications for why I can’t do it.
Read the article, it is well written and makes a lot of good points quite clearly. Now, let’s imagine what these objections to Agile might look like if they were instead objections to jogging:
“Agile is only for stars” = Only professional athletes jog. Also, celebrities. Nobody else needs to be fit.
“Agile doesn’t fit our organizational culture” = I’m living in an area where nobody exercises, and my neighbors would be surprised to see me jogging. That makes it unnecessary for me to be fit.
“Agile only works for small projects and our projects are big” = I’m already too fat for jogging. Or I don’t have the right size sneakers.
“Agile requires co-location and our staff are geographically dispersed” = I don’t live near any running tracks, and jogging down the street is just not the same.
“Agile lacks project management processes” = Jogging is obviously useless, because it will not increase my upper body strength like weights would.
“Our firm’s individual accountability systems don’t fit Agile” = I know I’m fat and tend to pant heavily after walking just a few steps or climbing some stairs, but I like myself the way I am, and so what if I don’t have a girlfriend!
“Agile is just a fad” = When automobiles first appeared, many were quick to abandon the horse and buggy to embrace the new fad. No, wait…
“There are better ideas than Agile” = I assure you that I will find that perfect exercise (or fat-burning pill, or magic super treadmill) on one of those infomercials any day now. No need to get fit while I’m looking.
“Nothing new here” = Jogging has been around for a long time. That alone is no reason for me to do it.
“Not a fair comparison?” = So what if jogging improves health. It’s not like it will make me an Olympic champion.
At the end of the day, people are really divided into two groups: those who are fit, and those who drink beer in front of the TV all day.
At least I hope we all agree that jogging is much better than nothing.