Banning the word “Agile” from the workplace

First off let me start by saying this is not an anti-agile post, I am a big fan of agile methodologies.

So why do I want to ban the word “Agile” from the workplace?

Well that’s pretty straight forward, I am constantly hearing agile being used as a reason for something.

Here are a couple of examples:

We pair program because we’re agile.

We do retrospectives because we’re agile.

Being agile is not a reason to do something, take the retrospective example. You don’t do retrospectives because you are agile, doing retrospectives is part of the reason you are agile yes, but it does not work the other way round. If your only justification for doing something is because you are agile, this shows a clear lack of understanding of why you are doing something and I highly suggest you question exactly why you are doing something.

Another of my favourites:

If we do [x] we’ll be more agile

More agile? What exactly does that mean? How do you measure how agile you are as a company? How many of the 12 agile principles do you satisfy? How many individuals and interactions do you favour over processes and tools?

No, they’re just meaningless measurements .

Instead explain why doing [x] is better for your company, regardless of how agile it makes you.

Doing retrospectives will allow us to address any issues and improve as a team.

If we release more often it will allow us a quicker feedback loop and our customers will get deliverables sooner.

So next time you hear someone or yourself use the word “agile” as a reason for doing something or as a measure of something, question it! Stop them in their tracks and ask them to explain exactly what they mean, without using the word agile, really get down into what they are trying to say.

I can’t promise you this will make you any friends, but I am confident it will make communication, understanding and intent clearer.

Feel free to let me know what you think, have you experienced this? Do you find it a problem? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

UPDATE: Pragmatic Dave has a similar article on his blog, if you enjoyed this article I recommend you give his a read at: Time to Kill Agile

Thanks to Stuart in comments for pointing this article out.

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