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Thanks for Poppendieck and Reinertsen links.

As a fan of Drucker, Deming, Goldblatt... Today's "agile" has always confused me; I really don't understand when and why our profession jumped the shark.

I was part of the early "agile" community back before that name existed. Occasionally I'll talk with somebody from back then and ask them how they think things turned out. The general answer is, "Well this isn't what we intended, so I've moved on to other things." Which is basically my answer too.

My best guess as to how the shark-jumping happened: http://agilefocus.com/2011/02/21/agiles-second-chasm-and-how...

The TL;DR version is that once it went mainstream, Agile was defined by the mainstream, which was not looking for excellence. Aided vigorously, of course, by the certification scam that is Scrum, where meaningless credentials were profitably bestowed by people who had little incentive to tighten things up. And one thing I've realize in ensuing years is that a key element was the culture of managerialism, which is inimical to anything that might make a manager look bad or diminish his empire.

re managerialism: I used to complain that we geeks got no respect. What I'd give to be ignored and neglected again.

I'm going to chew on your "second chasm" notion. Thanks.

Maybe it's just how things go. Fads, "selling out", poseurs, fashion, lost in translation, etc. Uncle Bob also references the rapid growth of our profession, where warm bodies are added faster than best practices can percolate.

To do list item: Maybe Everett's Diffusion of Innovations talks about this.

I've been getting a lot out of David Graeber's books, most recently The Democracy Project and Utopia of Rules. They're the first description of workplace democracy (collaboration, empowerment) which matches my own experiences. Back then, I was just kinda winging it (eg "What would Drucker do?"), because I really didn't have a lot other options.

Graeber considers the paradoxes better than most sages. eg How a movement begats its own destruction.

I keep thinking about that cliche of how anything taken to its logical extreme becomes it's own opposite, related to an abundance in one area causes a deficit in another.

Bringing us back to Goldblatt's Theory of Constraints. All balance is completely lost with all the players trying to hyper optimize their own little corner. Worse, "rationalists" weaponize fallacies like "beware the slippery slope!" to actively reject any kind of nuance, moderation, judgement, balance.

Thanks for listening. Trying to articulate my grievance helps me organize my thoughts.


Oh. One parting thought. I'm trying find a rhetorical basis for advocating moderation, proportional solutions. Something akin to rational altruism. I want a mashup of algorithms, game theory, and hedges (eg basket of investments, NPV) to guide decision making and governance. To make it okay to do 100 crazy ideas, because maybe 3 will hit the jackpot. To make it okay to try a variety of mitigations, because there is no one right-sized solution. Etc.

Ah, I haven't had a chance to read much Graeber. Although I appreciated his notion of bullshit jobs; it sums up a lot. And good luck with your quest! Feel free to drop me a line if you get anywhere.

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