Agile Angst

I hadn’t experienced anything approaching unfiltered “Agile” directly until recently. I worked in software before the Internet explosion, which is before the social-media twit stream outpouring with the metric of “likes” and “followers” (i.e., eyeballs). I had experience building projects and products for specific purpose, with known human resources of established and neophyte talent. In short, I worked in software engineering (what I refer to as a variation of process engineering that focuses on automated control of abstractions), so could sort of ignore the swirling mess of noise that used the term “methodology” (which is the study of methods) as a weapon to combat anyone who had a different notion.

For a while I was able to avoid positions and organizations that were looking for process magic in a bottle. I have read through job responsibilities that seem compatible enough except that they end with “Agile Methodologies” or “Agile Environment” or “Agile Team” and closed the recruiter email and deleted it.

I started working with my current employer for a variety of reasons, but what sold me it would be a good fit because it had “actual” engineers, automation systems control engineers and facilities design and layout. All of these are things that requires careful consideration, planning and organizational interdependencies to pull off market-sensitive scheduling and delivery. I had worked in an engineering firm in college and worked at Unisys for a while (before they went a mostly consultant model). Engineering I could grasp both practically and philosophically, and software was my contribution to engineering endeavors.

I’m public complaint averse. Making noise is a good way to draw unwanted attention from witch-hunters. In the Internet Age it can be downright dangerous to express an opinion that someone somewhere doesn’t like. There’s just too much cultural normalizing of belligerent activism (regardless of goal, motivation, or direction), to want to “fight that fight” without a collective audience to back you up, and critical thinking, like individualism will never be a mass movement. Head-down is better than head off.

For me, Agile is no longer merely an abstract beast out there, I stare at it daily: in meetings requiring boxed items on (virtualized) boards to move along in uniform fashion.

Many of the people with whom I work (or the ones with whom I like to work) seem to be experiencing generalized angst in response to the impact of the cultural revolution that we now march in. Most of them hadn’t even heard of Agile until their liberation, so the arrival was a bit more of a shock to them than to me.

I work with good people, some even great, and some not quite so great but dependable enough if handled well. My approach is persons and organizations achieve design and engineering greatness not through any specific magic process of social engineering, but through good engineers who knew how to work together. When, isolated from each other and socially managed into working and communicating in specific ways the secret sauce can be spoilt.

If you try to engineer how software engineers work, you will lose the engineering output you hoped for. If you want software engineers to produce, let them engineer.

Author: sageikosa

Ikosa Framework Author

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