This ain’t agile! 5 things you’re told are agile but are not!

Lets be honest. If you want to find a job nowadays, the first thing you should do, is to squeeze the word AGILE in your CV. It’s the magic word! Everybody wants it, few really understand it 🙂

Like all fashions and trends, the agile buzz has a good and dark side. On the good side, all the untitledattention makes agile theory and practises accessible to a broad public. Sharing best practises, applying agile to more than “just” IT and thus being able to deliver value for customers on a more frequent basis. However on the dark side, all and everything gets the agile sticker just for the hype. Ending up in lots of misconception about the true agile theory. As an agile enthusiast and a firm believer in its power from the start, I get very distressed when I see “agile” being misused, misunderstood or wrongly explained or implemented. Thus, today’s post is about seeing through all the buzz in order to see the real agile principles.


This ain’t agile! 5 most common things you’re told they are agile but they are not!

  • We don’t need a long term vision, that’s not agile! Wrong! You need a vision that drives you and the squad to keep on sprinting. You might change the route on the way but you’re still heading towards the same goal. A solid vision is key success factor for any high performing agile team – or organisation for that matter!
  • We don’t need any documentation! Isn’t working software more important than comprehensive documentation? Again wrong. Documentation shouldn’t be more important than human communication. However, not documenting user manuals, technical specifications, operation guidelines etcetera, will make your super duper software sit on a shelve as no one will be able to do anything with it.
  • We don’t need to think things through! We just start and see what happens! That’s agile! Well, again wrong. Agile is all about minimising waste and maximising value. So you better think very carefully before you start investing on a feature for your product. It requires careful planning, refining and designing of all your backlog items.
  • We don’t need to be disciplined! Rigid discipline is against agile isn’t it? Sorry, again wrong. Agile is a way of working that offers a tremendous amount of freedom to people. It empowers them to bring the best of themselves. But don’t let this freedom fool you! To make an agile model work, there has to be strict discipline in the basics, in order to enable and empower the freedom. My experience over the last years has shown that THE most important success factor for agile working is discipline.
  • We don’t need to plan, we are agile! Last time, wrong! Agile has proven to be far more predictable than other frameworks. There’s no stricter or more detailed planning than a sprint planning. And no, in an agile framework you don’t plan in details for the coming years (because let’s be honest, have you EVER experienced such a planning to be more than a nice PowerPoint with absolutely no real value?). But, in agile you plan for the near future, and you plan it damn strict! So no need to be afraid to use the word planning if you are working agile because it’s at the heart of it.

So! I’ve let it out, I’ve ventilated, I’m all calm now 🙂 Don’t let the buzz doubt your agile instinct. Don’t let it push you away from all the great benefits of agile working!

Do you recognise my occasional aggrevation? I can’t wait to hear your stories!

Cheers, Saloua!

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3 thoughts on “This ain’t agile! 5 things you’re told are agile but are not!

  1. For years I was a skeptic of Agile because of the myths. Every “agile” shop I knew about believed at least 4 of these myths and resulted in chaos, missed goals and completely unusable software. The worst I saw was a friend who wasted nearly a million dollars on software that didn’t work. His shop was “agile”, but of course not really. It wasn’t till I decided this thing wasn’t going away and took a scrum master course that I found out what Agile really was. Killing these myths should be one of the prime goals of everyone who actually understands some form of Agile.

    1. Hi Bill, what a great feedback. Happy to hear there are more people our there who want to kill the myths as you say. It makes me want to write more. Stay tuned. More to come

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