I ran across this presentation claiming that agile is the new waterfall, that by following some method of agile dogmatically, you are merely substituting one dogma for another and you have failed to gain any learning or understanding. While this may very well be true in certain cases, it reminds me of the opening line to Anna Karenina: All happy families are alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Many people say that you should take the pieces of agile that work for you, use them and discard the rest. If you’re dealing with a team that is already functional, this works. Teams that are already highly functional can take any process piecemeal and work it out because they are already functional. Teams that are dysfunctional are dysfunctional in hundreds of different ways and allowing these teams to choose what parts of any methodology they implement leads them to reinforce their dysfunctions instead of fixing them.
For teams that are highly dysfunctional, picking and choosing pieces of any methodology will undoubtedly result in failure, not because they chose pieces of waterfall or pieces of Six Sigma or pieces of agile. It will fail because they are already dysfunctional and the best way a methodology can help dysfunctional teams is by applying the entire methodology, sorting out later what pieces do and do not work once understanding has been achieved. We, as proponents of whatever methodology we prefer, do these teams a disservice when we allow them believe that doing pieces that “fit” will lead them to greater function.
Dogmas aren’t created to immediately impart understanding. That only comes wisdom and experience. Music students play all scales over and over, dogmatically. They do that because eventually, that dogmatic approach will lead to higher understanding about their craft. If a music student looks at scales and says “I’m only going to play the C Scale”, they will never gain the ability to understand how knowing all scales makes them a better player. The student must play all scales to gain the most benefit and understanding. In fact, music students should play their weakest scales more in order to improve more. In the same way, I believe applying any methodology in whole to dysfunctional teams has the potential to do the same thing, more quickly than doing it piecemeal.
Methodologies aren’t designed for functional teams. They don’t NEED them. Methodologies are designed for dysfunctional teams, ones that need help not because of their methodology but because of underlying issues with the team or the environment. Taking the pieces “that work for you” from any process results in only focusing on your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses. Do that will never lead to success will never lead to a stronger team, only a more unbalanced team.
*There is always some flu around and flu is always killing some people. Even when a raw mutant flu manages to kill off more people than a shooting-war, flu has never ravaged whole cities as cholera or the Black Death can do. As awful pandemics go, flu is like the snotty-nosed little sister of awful pandemics. *So if you catch the new swine flu, you’re very likely not gonna die. *But since it is a flu, you’re gonna kinda WISH you could die.
If you’re working in Silverlight and your app suddenly starts giving you the white screen of death, chances are there’s something wrong with the markup. Of course, since the white screen of death results in zero exceptions, sometimes it’s hard to track down what the problem is. Enter the Error Console in Firefox. If you get a WSOD, pop open Tools->Error Console in Firefox, scroll to the bottom of the list and you might be pleasantly surprised to find your problem described there.
The Experiment will be quiet this weekend as we observe our yearly appreciation of President Bush’s (and probably President Obama’s too!) noble stand on waterboarding as we reverse-waterboard trout in Northwest Arkansas. We expect they will scream out all their terroristic plans once we convince them they are going to reverse drown. Then we will throw them all back and show them that it was just our way of getting information out of them.
Fat Ass: I don’t belong here! I want to go home! I want my mother!
Another Prisoner: I had your mother, she wasn’t that great!
Fat Ass: You don’t understand, I’m not supposed to be here! I didn’t do it! Global warming isn’t my fault!
Captain Hadley: I’m not gonna to count to three. I’m not even gonna count to one. You will shut the FUCK up or I’ll sing you a lullaby about how you caused global warming!
Fat Ass: (blubbers some more and gets the shit beat out of him by the Captain for both blubbering and causing global warming)
Heywood: Hey, Fat Ass. Fat Ass! Talk to me boy! I know you’re there I can hear you breathin’. Don’t you listen to these nitwits you hear me? This place ain’t so bad. Tell you what, I’ll introduce you around, make you feel right at home. I know a couple of big old bull queers that’d just love to make you’re acquaintance. Especially that big, white, mushy butt of yours. Doin’ all that fartin, causin’ global warming. I bet you drive more than the rest of us too. Fucking caused global warming, ya Fat Ass.
Fat Ass: God! I don’t belong here! I want to go home! Global warming isn’t my fault!
Inmates: We have a winner!
Heywood: And it’s Fat Ass by a nose!
Update: Just in case it’s not clear (which apparently it’s not), this is a parody based on a scene from Shawshank Redemption of what might happen (can you parody a hypothetical? Beats me) if we really believe the stupid study linked above that obese people are a cause of global warming. If people want to be (or can’t help being) obese, that is their own choice (usually) and we don’t need to be make things worse by telling them global warming is their fault which it isn’t, if it’s even happening at all, which it might not be. Clear as mud? Great.