Monday, November 06, 2006

Is AGILE Dogmatic Enough

There are two answers to this. One is "yes". The other answer is more complicated. It amounts to "no", but it would be worth exploring why Agilogma (the dogma of Agile) is not yet at its naturally dogmatic extreme. Surely the principles of Extreme Agile will lead us to a full-on dogma, more resolute than current Agile practice, and worth of the name Agilogmatics. In time, Agilogmatics will be seen as the delivery of the ultimate promise of Agile.

Why Dogma Is Bad
Dogma is bad because sometimes people notice that it's based on unyielding, unflinching blind faith and seems almost irrelevant to their lives, their work and their life's work. Dogma, when spotted, can be easily dismissed as nonsensical dogma. This is, of course, very bad.

Why Dogma Is Good
Alternatively, "love is not love which alters as it alteration finds". In other words, a yielding doctrine isn't worth the paper that it's not written on. So, it's important to be able to sell the Agile process and everything else as an absolute. If it appears to be flexible, then it will appear to be made up, and anyone can make up a series of irrelevant principles, so why should the Agilist be special? So, it must be possible to demonstrate the dogmatic nature of Agile in order for Agile to exist at all.

If you can make it look dogmatically strong, without making it look dogmatically insane, then you'll get away with it.

Why Agile Isn't Dogmatic Enough
In many ways, the problem with Agile is that it intentionally tries to go about anarchically fitting the team and the problem. It does this with dogma, but hooks into the team with the apparent flexibility to fit the existing people and constantly changing problems. This leads to a conflict. Something can be dogmatic and flexible at the same time. Yet Agile is dogmatic in its flexibility and emergent processes... though it can only work with the dogma of pairing, refactoring, annoying people, being smug, disinformation, misinformation, misdirection, misappropriation of consulting time, reading of stuff about Toyota, and constant interruption. The conflict comes from the the flexibility.

Were Agile to specify exactly how everyone should behave and exactly what the problem should be, then it would be so easy to enforce that people would have difficulty arguing with it, even though they'd stil be unable to make it work.

How Agilogmatics Will Be The Golden Bullet
Agilogmatics will not be a silver bullet, because there are no silver bullets. However, it might become a golden bullet because that sounds better. Basically, the Agilogmatist will declare that they are going to force change on an organisation by the forced implementation of a series of counter-intuitive processes. That they're counter-intuitive will be seen as (because it will be shown to be) better than intuitive, because it takes genius (and salmon) to swim upstream. It will even be possible for the Agilogmatist to declare exactly which subset of the personnel and problems of the company they expect to revolutionise in this way. It will be unswaying and relentless and will last as long as the consultant espousing it can continue to draw his consulting fee.


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