An Open Letter to the Agile Industry

I’ve been in the software game for a little over a decade, and I spent most of my time growing my sense and abilities to leverage agility for better results. Sadly, the further I go, the more distance I want from the rest of the agile industry. This article is likely going to ruffle some feathers.

Agile Won, Now What

Everyone is speaking and operating with the trappings of agility now. You’d have to search extremely hard to find a group that has formally avoided it. So the whole industry bought into it, now what?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I find tremendous value in agility, but I also see that the industry around agility doesn’t.

Looking at LinkedIn groups and registrations of folks who hold certifications (Yes, that’s me). There are scores of folks who have hung their hat on the brand or success of agility. But again, agile is everywhere. What are all of these folks going to do?

Stop Telling Folks What They “Should” Do

If I got paid every time some coach or scrum master or safe consultant bemoaned or hopped on a soapbox to talk about what everyone should be doing, I’d be rich.


I’d much rather see the agile industry clam up for a minute and focus on their own practice. Don’t tell a Product Owner what to do if you haven’t lived in those shoes. Don’t recommend a technique you can’t do. Don’t bash leadership unless you’ve experienced it.

Would You Bet Your Job On It?

I’m tired. I’m tired of people talking about the same things and sharing techniques while running in place.

I’m tired of discussions of value and priority without helping uncover it, know the risks, do the tough work of opportunity cost, etc.

I want our industry to be able to stand proudly that they would bet their job on the efficacy of what they teach, do, and coach.

Will you bet your job on making that next Scrum team that much better?

Some of you might think that it isn’t up to you, but then, what are you doing? Can I make retrospectives a meeting where actual improvement happens? Yes. Can I make stand-ups valuable and not a status meeting? Yep. Can I introduce technical practices like TDD? Yep. I, as an expert, can influence all of these things effectively, and I can bet my job on it. I want the rest of the industry to as well.

The Next Thing Is Mastery

Everyone understands the basics of agility or lean or whatever at this point. The problem is that the industry has left everyone in those early days just copying rituals and not mastering them.

That is the challenge for the agile industry to rise to. It must focus on creating mastery and fulfilling the purpose of agility in companies, and not another training class.

And the challenge for companies is to recognize the difference between the people who got you where you are and the ones who can take you where you need to be.