I know productivity superstars, but if you catch them on the wrong day or at the wrong time, they look like lazy bums. Over a year, they're extremely productive. On any given day, they may look like they're wasting time.
This property of conceptual work is at the core of a lot of culture clash with people who have more predictable work-comes-in, work-product-goes-out flows.
I've encountered a particularly nasty variation of this since Agile became a Thing, where anyone who isn't writing code or running tests or showing up in the commit logs every few minutes obviously isn't working. The idea that it might be better to step back for an hour, or a day, or even a month, to think things through properly and maybe do some throwaway prototyping before you start pushing code to production, doesn't even seem to be accepted as credible any more in some quarters.
People don't recognize it as such because the LOC -- lines of code -- has an added time dimension now and a different name. In Agile / Scrum it's K-(issue/day) where issues take the place of raw lines and the metric is applied per unit of sprint duration.
But same idea, and same fallacy. It results in gobs of ugly Rube Goldberg machine code that's slow for fundamental O(crap) reasons and bug-ridden.
An org that calls what it does "agile" or "scrum" and then proceeds to accumulate technical debt like the Titanic taking on water is lying to itself about what it's doing. Piling up technical debt is a textbook Agile(flavor) failure, full stop.
What sounds like happened in the case(s) you describe is that someone with dev management preconceptions wore "Agile" like a wolf in sheep's clothing and proceeded to dole out the same old ad-hoc nonsense. Nonsense as in being "efficient" (high KLOCs/metrics, butts in seats, long hours, etc.) and not caring about being "effective" (working on the right problem vs a problem, necessary understanding of the company and customer needs, working smarter vs. simply harder, etc.).
I've seen this attitude a number of times, e.g. in program managers with history in big, established s/w companies. They learned a certain way of working, but then talk "Agile" as the trendy hire-word. Unfortunately, some of these folks never gained understanding of the tools that Agile brings to the table, and when/how to apply (or not apply) them to a situation.
So, yeah, some people just don't get it. At all. And in my experience management is definitely a place where one is more likely to find such people.
For me, personally, and I suspect other people like me, it comes down to an ability to perform remarkably well under pressure, along with a lack of ability to perform well when the pressure is off. If there's no urgency to what I need to do, I find it very hard to commit myself to doing something.
Worth investigating, because it seems like ADD, but it is not. ADHD drugs in this case can be counter-productive as they tend to increase anxiety.
There are techniques to cope with this that can be quite effective.
As for ADHD, I probably have a little of that going on with a sprinkling of Aspberger symptoms, but not seemingly in a sufficient way to have any significant effect on my life and/or overall productivity (except that is when it comes to %$!^ing daily scrum updates which drive me bonkers - once a week would be fine, once a day is ridiculous).
1. band-aid around the problem
2. complete rewrite of a large portion of the website
During my internship, I did quite a lot of work but in similar manner. Implement an interesting feature, then a week of laziness. Another feature and laziness.
However the other replies to your comment also make me afraid about some psychological problem. I think I need to visit a doctor! :)
To be fair to agile though, I can see situations where it can work. The problem is that many of its adherents seem to see agile as a hammer and all software engineering as various forms of nails.
Agile isn't a methodology, but a metamethodology -- or, in terms of the metaphor, it isn't a hammer, it is a set of guidelines to use in selecting tools.
Scrum is a hammer, but Scrum ≠ Agile. Often rigorous adherence to particular methodologies (usually Scrum) get misidentified as being "Agile", but rigorous adherence to a particular methodology is not only not the same as Agile, but is directly contrary to Agile principles (particularly, its a direct violation of the first value from the Agile Manifesto, "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools".)
While I agree that this is against the agile manifesto, that's no excuse. This is how it ends up getting implemented in large corporate environments, a lot in fact, so methinks the agile fans ought to take some ownership of this recurring problem and either find a solution or stop shoving agile down everyone's throats.
Finally, I'd take a 30% pay cut to escape agile to do exactly the same work I'm doing right now minus scrum. I'd get more work done and I'd feel better about it because I would no longer feel like I have the engineering equivalent of an ankle monitor attached to me. That's more than worth the loss of compensation to me.
This is not a problem with Agile; anything that works anywhere will lead to imitations that steal the name and attempt to extract some simple recipe from the "lessons" of that thing that worked.
> While I agree that this is against the agile manifesto, that's no excuse. This is how it ends up getting implemented in large corporate environments
No, its how something that is nothing like Agile gets implemented in large corporate environments and called Agile.
Fundamentally, this is a symptom of a broader leadership culture issue environments in the authority structure and culture has people that neither know nor care to know about the domain have authority for decision making within that domain, and its certainly beyond the power of people external to the affected organizations with an interest in particular approaches to problems in any given domain (software development or otherwise) to do much about. It is, however, a pervasive problem in large bureaucracies (not only corporate ones.)
But instead it has become an enormous metastasizing moneymaker for minting Certified Scrum Masters, Certified Scrum Product Owners, Agile Certified Practitioners, and all sorts of other Agile titles for $1000+ a pop. So I guess we're going to have to disagree because I think this means a little ownership of the issues that arise in the practice resulting from that training is appropriate here. Because what I'm hearing from you now sounds a lot like the usual "You're doing it wrong!" refrain which accomplishes precisely nothing.
As long as there are people looking for packaged solutions and willing to pay top dollar for them, there will be people willing to sell them to you under any name that you ask.
But if the name on the tin is refers to something diametrically opposed to that kind of packaged-solution approach, well, its probably not going to be an accurate label.
Hold back some of the extra work on your killer productivity days and keep it in reserve. On those off days, reach into the "bank" and push some of those changes.
And now you are consistent.
But I learned long ago not to worry about it. The down cycles inevitably pass and then I'm producing again.
(no, I'm not bipolar)