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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Mailvox: the technical entry point

A reader points out how Agile development provides an entry point for converging technology companies:
It took a while to notice but there is something happening in even non-converged companies. They call it "Agile" in the instances I know of, but that has been around and revised for the last two decades.

It is being sold as what Apple, Amazon, Facebook, etc. use to get great gains in productivity and measure their teams' performance. Instead, it is where the cancer can hide.  That doesn't mean you don't yet have cancer, only that you won't be able to tell as the nerves are dead.

Having been involved with it being "imposed from above" and discovering it in other companies I finally know why some of the stupid or meaningless kabuki is being used.

If something in your software development process seems either meaningless, stupid, or even counterproductive, it is because the purpose is not coding quality, probably is being celebrated elsewhere as a product of SJW convergence, but is being adopted and imposed on your team.  I doubt it is even intended to weaken or destroy competition, but that is the result.

First, there is no measure of individual productivity. All that matters is the "team velocity" which is basically socialism coding (to paraphrase GitHub). This is bad enough when you have a fixed size of similarly capable coders working on the same thing. But what if the team consists of some HTML people, some CSS people, and some JavaScript people who do nonot know much about the other domains, or worse just 3 people, one of each? Yet the measurement is overall. Worse is you typically have a few stars, and supporting actors. So what happens when your two best Java Jockeys are replaced with Danny Diversity and Betty Bugwright that are actually a negative? The powers go into a tizzy and complain about the TEAM slowing down. Everyone on the team knows why but can't say. And what is your evaluation and/or bonus or whatever based on? Being a team player, not a team winner.

Second is "the two week sprint". Why two weeks? Imagine a complex subproject that will take someone good three months to go from start to finish, but you know that he can do it as he has been reliable. What this new process does is require it to be broken down into a dozen individual 2 week tickets with what needs to be completed - yes, a real deliverable - a each point. You might recognize this as the hardest part of any nontrivial change or addition. But Danny Diversity can't even begin to understand how to do anything for the complex subproject, but can copy a bubblesort routine when it is needed for sprint #9. It is worse than that because 2 weeks is the MAXIMUM granularity, but the idea is to have half-day sized projects.

Note there will be "customers" that request a feature, and "the team" is supposed to estimate it, but in the new paradigm design is either omitted, relegated outside the team, or is done in parallel (usually as resented tickets trying to do a mini-waterfall inside the "agile" - usually it is the reverse). If you are making small patches, easily reversed to something like a website (e.g. add popup for shopping cart), this can work because the granularity is small, testability is high, it is a small mod, not a major design, and can be backed out instantly. Imagine if an OTA update bricks or introduces a huge vulnerability to a smartphone.

Third, one of the foundations of Agile is constant refactoring, often built in to the process, to avoid accumulating technical debt. If refactoring is one of those things that is avoided or treated like something that we haaaave to do, you are doing the converged version of "Agile". Why? Because Betty Bugwright and Danny Diversity will get their tasks done in the sprint, but either any review will reject them or a clean-up tech debt ticket will have to be added. Can't let there be a visible pattern of where the accumulation of technical debt is coming from. Like San Francisco wondering why the spontaneous appearance of the feces and needles on the side walks.

Fourth, Participation (a)Trophy Test driven code. Actual regression tests are very useful, but hard to do and take time and effort to code. Expecially cross module unit and system tests. Instead, we get kabuki where Danny writes a routine to verify Add(2,2) returns 4, which is still better than letting him modify any used part of the code. But you can add thousands of lines of meaningless clutter, imply that the quality is improving because it is now "tested" while the system is collapsing, and give the deadweight something nondestructive to do for the kabuki.

True Agile is a toolbox, with screwdrivers to remove screws, hammers for nails, and wrenches or at least pliers for bolts. But when all you have is a hammer...
This is an astute observation. I may have to include it almost verbatim as an example in Corporate Cancer.

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96 Comments:

Blogger The Kurgan July 26, 2018 8:43 AM  

Yup.
I have noted the very same “mind”set in the corporate world.
Managed to chair a design team meeting (construction) in the absence of the Project manager and I made sure to do the minutes write up after I insisted on receiving a specific name and date by which the items would be done.
It was the single most productive meeting held in over 10 months and all but one of the individuals named got their tasks done.
The project was £20 million so being the one named person who delayed it would not look good.

Any guesses on the sex/race of the one who failed to achieve their allotted single item?

After that though I was very clearly prevented from chairing a single meetingbor requesting specific individuals for any named tasks.

I was also fired a few months later after (I am not exaggerating or hyperboling) I literally doubled the project’s 4.5% profit margin.
And yes I did it alone because I was the one that put together and negotiated every single contract for the building of the project.

My crime, of course, was to not have followed the office political practice of kissing the ass of the project director who couldn’t do basic percentages and kept reporting wrong numbers to the board and then expecting me to take the blame for his bad math. I did it for four months then politely pointed out his figures were in error.
He called on the estimator to “prove me wrong”.
I already had an email from the estimator stating I was 100% correct though.
He had to go quiet when I presented it.

But there you go.
I don’t sweat work stuff because who cares, I’ll never be out of work because I make people millions, but I am sick of the stupidity.
So looking to see if I can switch tracks.
Again.
#therideneverends

Blogger Gordon Freece July 26, 2018 8:47 AM  

That’s BS. Source: I’ve been a professional C++ and then C# dev since 1996. This guy sounds like the guys who claim OOP is “just a way to hide global variables” or some such nonsense. All that means is they know nothing about it and they’re too lazy to learn anything new.

Agile is yet another development fad, but the essential ideas are far more useful than most. 80+% of it, roughly speaking, is meaningless decoration added to fatten the page count of books about it, and to give stupid managers buzzwords to babble. Implemented by idiots, it’s largely idiotic in practice, because that’s true of any situation where a fool hammers a screw. The “scrum” thing can very easily turn into a hideous time suck, and the groups that do it need to be limited to guys whose code actively needs to be coordinated day to day. Etc.

But in practice, I have found a lot of real value in breaking large tasks into smaller deliverables, iteration, etc.

You don’t need agile for SJWs to abuse performance evaluations. All you need is SJWs doing the evaluations.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd July 26, 2018 8:48 AM  

The Kurgan wrote:
Any guesses on the sex/race of the one who failed to achieve their allotted single item?


I guess Not Male and Not White (I realize that doesn't narrow either one down much).

Blogger Jeff aka Orville July 26, 2018 9:06 AM  

Gordon is correct, Agile is a "management" fad, that when forced down from the c-level without much thought, does a lot of damage. That said, I've worked on some very successful Agile projects. It's a decent tool, and way better than waterfall if you don't get too dogmatic about keeping a given sprint to two weeks.

Agile is just another form of project management, and PM at it's core is about people more than processes. I interviewed last fall for a SCRUM master position at a large regional bank, and they let slip that this particular team was completely disfunctional and had failed to meet any delivery deadlines. Worse, they had gone through several SCRUM leaders. I told the IT manager that she needed to fire the team, not hire another SCRUM manager.

I think the cancer is c-level people looking at Agile as a magic bullet. My current company is making a lot of noise among the PM leads about "doing" Agile but they have no clue about the needed culture shift to make it work.

Blogger SemiSpook37 July 26, 2018 9:30 AM  

@2 and @4

I have to agree with both Gordon's and Jeff's assessments. It all depends on the types of people that are doing the work, as well.

I'm currently the ScrumMaster for my current project, where the team is actually starting out in applying Agile development principles under the Scrum framework. Sure, the project we're supporting is significantly behind schedule, but the team itself is very capable of meeting the technical requirements of the work needed to be done. Part of my role is to "enforce the rules", as it were.

Where I work is also embracing the cultural shift to ensure that Agile development is successful. Given our customer base, we're more concerned about making sure our collective shit is in order, and there's no time to consider convergence issues, since that stuff will sink the company as a whole rather than improve everybody's "wokeness".

Basically, if teams are going to focus on stupid stuff like that rather than their livelihoods, then they deserve all the stuff that comes with that mindset...and more.

Another thing to consider: organizational size. A smaller company, such as the one I'm at, is likely better at adapting such principles, since their leadership isn't as insulated as those big orgs with any semblance of a C-suite. If the leadership is engaged, and mindful of the fact that any potential convergence could impact their bottom line, then there shouldn't be any concern if someone wants to try and shoehorn their way in and ruin the environment; leadership should make it clear that the focus should be on production, and any attempts to impact that, no matter how subtle such types might attempt to make them, will not be tolerated.

Idealistic, I know, but there are places out there where this happens.

Blogger HalibetLector July 26, 2018 9:40 AM  

Gordon Freece wrote:Agile is yet another development fad, but the essential ideas are far more useful than most.

You're missing the point. Agile, as it was originally devised, is a perfectly legitimate management technique. That's not how it's practiced in most corporate environments. I've gone round and round with programmers on reddit about this. How it's defined in the manifesto is absolutely not how it's practiced in real life. In real life, it's Harrison Bergeron in action. It's also a very easy target for SJW convergence. It's a weak spot that SJWs can exploit regardless of its practical merits.

I believe startups were the first to twist Agile to hide underperformance. They weren't trying to hide diversity hires as much as they were trying to hide the fact that most startup companies are a stone cold con. Hiring gobs of programmers you don't actually need is a great way to inflate your valuation so you can squeeze more money out of the company you've suckered into buying you.

Blogger Slagenthor July 26, 2018 9:46 AM  

I agree with Gordon and Jeff as well. Agile / scrum processes can be done well or done poorly - the blame rests with the overseers. At least for software development. For hardware development, I have yet to see a convincing success there that wasn't either A) in spite of Agile, or B "scrum-but" where "we do everything But this or that". That isn't a flaw of Agile development so much as the fact that hardware development tasks don't lend themselves to being atomized for sprints, even 4 week sprints or longer epics, and at core most HW tasks aren't as fungible as SW tasks.

Blogger Doktor Jeep July 26, 2018 9:48 AM  

Back in 2007 I went to the Microsoft campus for a job interview. There I saw and even met other people who I found were a lot like me. They even had an employee run gun club. I did not get the job, but worked tech in the region.
It was around 2011 to 2012 that I started to get the feeling that "guys like me" were getting driven out. And it was roughly 2009 to 2010 that all I was hearing about around Redmond and Seattle was how great Agile (and something called Scrum) were. Every resume I saw mentioned it, every job ad posted mentioned it. Only now in retrospect is it more clear. The drumming of white male heterosexual out of the high paying tech jobs was deliberate. Yes it was done on purpose.

Blogger Josh Adams July 26, 2018 9:48 AM  

In small teams, I have seen little-a agile work extremely well.

In large teams, I have seen it go piss-poorly.

In the same organization.

Story: We were working for the USPTO as a small sneaky team to build something to replace a large part of their process. We moved absurdly quickly. The project was a success, and was upgraded to full-implementation mode and moved to a "proper team" within the organization.

The first two moves? Remove our real-time chat (we were using HipChat, which was not approved there) and switch to the "Scaled Agile Framework".

https://www.scaledagileframework.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/BP_45_Portfolio.png

Compare that with the first real line from the Agile Manifesto: http://agilemanifesto.org/

"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools"

When an agile team fails--in my experience (and I've worked on hundreds of delivered projects)--it is because they use the agile buzzword but eschew the actual principles.

Yes, there are occasional projects where Agile is a poor fit. Typically, I think it's an excellent tool to avoid wandering off the value-delivery path. I've seen tons of fantastic developers that will take twice as long to build something without concrete deadlines and small deliverables.

Anyway, I still like agile, but there's a huge tendency for people to want to say they're doing agile without understanding any of the points in the manifesto, because they heard that they should be doing agile. Nothing will fix that, but they'd suck no matter what methodology they used.

Also (and this will likely make some people angry) all of the "scrum master certification" type things can piss right off. They're useless and they tend to suck a ton of money out of actual development towards what is essentially a crappy mid-level manager that couldn't justify involvement in the project without a useless certification in time-wasting. A developer needs to be scrum mastering. One recent project I was on had a non-developer that was scrum-master but he was highly hands-off and just helped grease the wheels and ensure ordering of work was optimal, and he was a huge benefit to the project. Every other non-dev scrum master I ran into was just a CYA bureaucrat.

Blogger widlast washere July 26, 2018 9:50 AM  

They've pushed that agile crap on us also. Luckily I'm in test so it doesn't apply. From what I've seen, the advert for agile development should be:

"Agile, for when you just can't be bothered to take the time and effort to do it right."

Blogger IAM Spartacus July 26, 2018 9:53 AM  

My experience with Agile and waterfall would tell me this author just doesn't like the concept and SJW is just a scapegoats. For one it doesn't matter on method used to manage a project, SJW's will find ways to obfuscate their uselessness.

First, there is no measure of individual productivity. All that matters is the "team velocity" which is basically socialism coding (to paraphrase GitHub).

Incorrect:
If anything when Agile is done right and as designed you know exactly who failed to do a task and you can find out when a person is sand bagging or hitting targets because number of tasks complete will give you metrics to determine impact of individual and the collective team when the burn down review is done.

Also SJWs like those at GitHub will describe anything and everything they can as a "Socialism of...". The miss understand the New Testament when it talks of the believers coming together voluntarily to share among each other, or why Sapphira and Ananias died because they lied, not because they didn't sell everything.

Second is "the two week sprint". Why two weeks?

Agile requires goals (stories) and tasks be assigned to named person and the completion of those task goes into the burn rate. The two week sprint is to help focus you tasks for that time period. The spring is also a suggested two weeks. There are some projects that work better with three of four week sprints. Point is to determine the work to be done and can it be accomplished in that time.

Third, one of the foundations of Agile is constant refactoring, often built in to the process, to avoid accumulating technical debt.

The refactoring process helps identify and adjust to issues found in the process. Generally refactoring is due to new data found. Bugs on the other hand are classified differently and are injected into a spring often robbing the sprint of achieving it's goals. Refactoring allows you to track and manage changes such as new technology or strategic partnership changes.

Fourth, Participation (a)Trophy Test driven code. Actual regression tests are very useful, but hard to do and take time and effort to code.

Ok so you don't like TDD not sure that is a valid argument for not liking Agile. If anything TDD is just setting specifications into code. I really wish more Developers would do it as it helps Ops know WTF the dev was actually attempting to do. As for the issue of the Diversity higher doing stupid stuff with TDD. An accurate view will show if the DH understood what was asked. It's usually pretty easy to read a TDD test and see if the person understood the desired outcome. Again this is helpful against SJW encroachment.

The real issue the author is showing is that SJW convergence corrupts and obfuscates. It doesn't matter if it's Agile or Waterfall or Kanban the SJW will seek ways to hide their work and will use all sorts of reasons to not do something. My favorite is when a black chick says she wouldn't work on a DB task because it was about setting up Master and Slave replication. She was offended. I'm sitting there thinking how the heck did you get through College with DBA training and just now you are offended by one of the most common clustering method used for many HA compute systems.

Blogger Gordon Freece July 26, 2018 10:05 AM  

@HalibetLector

I may be giving full-on Agile less credit than it deserves. The point in my comment that I cared about was: “Agile is not, in its essence, political entryism. But let’s not forget that you can have a set of practices that is called ‘Agile’, and is worse than useless”.

I wanted not to commit myself to a resolute defense of all things Agile, or worse yet all things anybody calls “Agile”.

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 10:05 AM  

There are lots of ways to do Agile, in fact one of the keys to success is to find the form that fits the team and project. But that means it will have whatever tracking, timing, etc. systems that are appropriate to what is going on. It has both sedans and pickups.

The converged version sounds like they want everyone to drive a sedan, then wonder why it takes three trips to get all the tools to the jobsite.

And if you look, you see the perversion is subtle. Since the "team" matters and everyone is "equal", i.e. fungible, removing James Damore shouldn't affect Google's quality. The forced breaking down into tiny tasks a first year coder can do instead of right-sizing them. Not bothering with refactoring, which is like saying use C++ but not classes. Adding easily coded tests where the bugs aren't.

It seems at the Konverged Koding Konference, instead of true Agile, the reports all recommended enforcing only the key aspects to hide the convergence, and ignoring or subverting those that actually helped quality and productivity. The Scrum Master not as factory foreman but as feel-good facilitator.

I wonder if @4's described team was dysfunctional and failed to meet deadlines BEFORE the specific form of Agile was imposed. Also, who set the deadlines as one of the aspects of Agile is only taking things on the team agrees can be done in the required timeframe. Replacing the team, yet keeping waterfall like deadlines won't change anything. I suspect the real problem is the changes they want are harder and take longer than is acceptable, but "Agile" was supposed to magically make everything go 10x faster and the Scrum master is being blamed for not being able to make the cargo cult magic deliver.

Blogger Damelon Brinn July 26, 2018 10:07 AM  

Whether Agile is useful or not (I learned in the comments here that 20% of it doesn't suck if you do it right), it's pretty easy to see how any system that focuses on team productivity measurements and requires a lot of meetings would be a likely vector for convergence. It's bound to attract the kind of people who see it not as a necessary evil, but as a goal in itself, so you'll have to be on guard against them.

Blogger VD July 26, 2018 10:08 AM  

You Agile defenders are missing the point, which is that Agile allows SJWs to hide underperformance in a way that they could not do so as easily in other forms of project management. That doesn't mean Agile is intrinsically bad, any more than a Code of Conduct is intrinsically bad.

It's how it can be exploited by SJWs that is the problem. So, instead of blindly defending Agile, be aware of how it can be used to converge a tech group.

Blogger Robert What? July 26, 2018 10:09 AM  

Productivity at large converged companies like Google and YouTube is no longer an issue because, with their legal teams, portfolio of patents and their crony government connections they have effectively quashed any possible competition. So why should they care about productivity?

Blogger DJ | AMDG July 26, 2018 10:13 AM  

I think the point is that Convergence is more successful in environments and structures built on increasingly stringent rules and processes designed to describe what success is. When success is obvious - “does it work as advertised, done on time, and within budget” - then the more rules, language, and processes forced to describe that success obfuscate and weaken its meaning and allow for elements to rise to power within the group that have no concern for success - only the rules.

Blogger IAM Spartacus July 26, 2018 10:17 AM  

If anything you should learn how Agile is supposed to be and then see how the company diverges from it. Do they have meaningful retrospectives? Do they actually look at the data around blocked tasks and the people assigned to them.

SJW's are corrupter. Learn the process and see how it's corrupted from what it should be and that will tell you how converged an organization is. Doesn't matter what method is used only in how it's not actually used or if it is just used to institute corruption.

When you see "Develop Code of Conduct" as an Agile story then you know there is probably some sulfur brewing.

Blogger Looking Glass July 26, 2018 10:21 AM  

HalibetLector got to most of it first, but some of you are clearly missing the point of the email. Though everyone seems to be looking at this from a "highly competent worker" perspective. Agile fails on a Game Theoretic level, mostly as there's a clear bottleneck at the Manager level.

Agile could work with a really good micro-manager as PM in a low-trust environment. Great for a company with a lot of H1Bs, but that's simply not a good approach to a high-skilled environment. In fact, given the ability to hide the work product of less productive members, it takes on the Teacher Union problems.

From a management level, any larger scale Agile approach pretty much screams failure, migraines and early heart attacks. It'll foster low-trust, mercenary employees, with constant inter-personal conflict. Sounds like a Start-Up where everyone is looking to cash out or bail in an instant. No wonder it's become a Fad among the Pump & Dump crowd.

As a practical note, if you took 10 White, Christian programmers you could run a full-on, theoretical Communistic approach to projects and make it work. High-Trust environments allow you to do a lot of things because the Trust Environment encourages everyone to help others effectively. Never project what can be done with High Trust as a general rule, as it simply doesn't work.

Blogger Looking Glass July 26, 2018 10:26 AM  

Damelon Brinn wrote:Whether Agile is useful or not (I learned in the comments here that 20% of it doesn't suck if you do it right), it's pretty easy to see how any system that focuses on team productivity measurements and requires a lot of meetings would be a likely vector for convergence. It's bound to attract the kind of people who see it not as a necessary evil, but as a goal in itself, so you'll have to be on guard against them.

Since convergence is Lethal to a company, all systems have to adjust to lessen the vectors for entry. Wars do that to all organizations. Agile could work on certain product types, in certain environments, but when it's so easily converged, it's a self-inflicted injury on a company.

Blogger Doug Cranmer July 26, 2018 10:42 AM  

Jesus, I hate working with programmers.

Blogger Chiva July 26, 2018 10:43 AM  

As with any other development scheme Agile has strengths and weaknesses.

A SJW engineer (or any other parasitic engineer) will quickly learn the ropes to hide their lack of ability. In Agile if the Scrum master is weak or inexperienced the undesirables can hide for a long time before being exposed. A strong Scrum master should easily see an undesirable in their team after a few sprints.

The implementation of Agile imposed on the SW organization I work in has been detrimental to the organization as a whole. I don't blame the Agile methodology itself, I blame the SW management team for the ham-handed implementation of Agile on the SW team.

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 10:49 AM  

@17 @18 - I think that is the key in that the process becomes more important than the product, because the process becomes a religious ritual that must be performed correctly, like the cargo cults do but the planes with the cargo never reappear. This can be true even without convergence - the startups and H1-worker-Bs are other examples. It can take a while to notice there is no more cargo coming, then they hunt for heretics among the team.

@19 - Agile isn't good or bad, it is a set of tools. The right tool makes things easier, the wrong one just breaks stuff. I don't think any technique can do much when there are more than about a dozen people on a team, and even that is big. Small teams (say 4 or less) can self-organize because it is easy to know where everyone else it at on the project. The middle is where you need some management, and Agile can organize it, but it requires the work requests to be managed.

Here's another clue - Does the entire or even a majority of the existing team interview and be able to decide on a new member, or is it just management or the Scrum Master and maybe one technical person who decides if they will fit in or not. That may not work if you have technically excellent gammas who will white-knight for codettes, but it is a good general rule. Is the team the set of persons, or the ritual.

Blogger Al K. Annossow July 26, 2018 10:49 AM  

The principles of agile are based on overcoming weaknesses discovered by research. So it has great potential. It is used to offset the problem that software is hard, many people get into it for the money, but most people are pretty marginal. There are too few top performers, so companies make due with the people they can get. With all the job hopping, you get someone at too high a salary before you know their quality. And firing someone creates too much more work to hire a replacement, who is also another unknown.

And waterfall methodology can become a mass exercise in finger pointing; intra-company departments would like to sue each other for fraud unless very extensive requirements documentation is authored and endlessly updated. Poor performers, SJWs or not, hide here too, but yes it's easier to identify them because roles become more separated out over longer time frames. Yet the top performers still move on for what they think is something better (changing jobs or employees swaps one set of pros and cons for another).

From the top down, good managers need freedom and responsibility to implement methodology appropriate for the company, the employees, and the resources available. *SJWs in your company are the responsibility of managers.* Managing is also hard and most managers are also marginal; so they resort to what's popular.

Blogger Jack Amok July 26, 2018 10:56 AM  

It's how it can be exploited by SJWs that is the problem.

It's no more exploitable than any other project management system. In fact, as someone mentioned, it's probably less. Your correspondent is an idiot. His assessment of "agile" is just someone pissed off at his company complaining about the poor quality of management.

First, there is no measure of individual productivity. All that matters is the "team velocity"

He's confusing planning with performance management. "Team velocity" is supposed to give the manager an idea of how fast a team of people can proceed, not how well any particular member is doing. If the company is using it as a performance management technique, that's just a management failure and would be equally applied to any other project management technique.

I could go point by point through his diatribe - each of his points demonstrates a high degree of inexperience coupled with dislike for his current job - but the main issue is, there's nothing inherently corruptible about "Agile" that isn't equally true of any other project management technique.

Adopting or avoiding any specific technique will not protect you against SJWs.

Because with SJWs, it's not the system, it's the people.

Sorry Vox, this was a swing and a miss.

Blogger Blade July 26, 2018 11:06 AM  

The guy uses a lot of corporate programming jargon. It would be nice if it was translated and I didn't have to look up a new term every few sentences.

Blogger HalibetLector July 26, 2018 11:07 AM  

Doug Cranmer wrote:Jesus, I hate working with programmers.

The responses in this thread do paint a bleak picture, don't they? It's not hard to believe that enterprising wall street rejects (Venture Capitalists) have exploited programmers for decades.

Jack Amok wrote:His assessment of "agile" is just someone pissed off at his company complaining about the poor quality of management.

Gordon Freece wrote:This guy sounds like the guys who claim OOP is “just a way to hide global variables” or some such nonsense.

Attacking the person who "notices" things about Agile is the most common response I've seen over the years on this topic. That certain people jump straight to maligning the person instead of arguing the topic is what made me look harder at Agile to begin with.

Blogger Looking Glass July 26, 2018 11:09 AM  

@24 Al K. Annossow

"There are too few top performers, so companies make due with the people they can get." Something like 15% of the descended European population can make solid programmers. That's not the issue. Multi-national and/or Progressive area businesses don't want to pay market-clearing rates for talent.

Agile has clear implications of being designed to get far less competent non-natives to be somewhat productive in projects that natives would be far more competent at.

Blogger Looking Glass July 26, 2018 11:13 AM  

@27 HalibetLector

Programmers are Betas down to Deltas, with some Omegas mixed in. They're fundamentally the easiest to exploit, as long as they're paid. If you attack their pay directly, you've just pissed of the Autists. Good luck on that.

Blogger Gordon Freece July 26, 2018 11:16 AM  

Yes, evaluating teams rather than individuals is a self-evidently idiotic idea.

If it’s considered a core part of Agile, anybody with sense will skip that part. It’s not a religion. But I don’t see “evaluate teams, not individuals” in the “Principles”: http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html

“Copy a bubblesort routine” is a weird thing for a professional to say. How long has the guy been out of college? Sorts are in libraries. If they’ve really got copy/paste coders implementing sorts, that’s a comic-strip level of dysfunction. But there are some pretty bad shops out there.

I think this guy got hired for his first job out of college at a mismanaged clownshow, that’s all. Nowadays, mismanagement often involves SJWs.

Blogger Jack Amok July 26, 2018 11:17 AM  

Attacking the person who "notices" things about Agile is the most common response I've seen over the years on this topic.

So are you going to respond to my argument, or just attack me?

Blogger Encephalitis July 26, 2018 11:18 AM  

I work in a corporate IT department and about half of the projects are still waterfall, and the other are Agile-in-name-only. There are just as many H-1B poor performers, SJWs, and other wastes of space on waterfall as on Agile. One data point is not a trend, however. Mostly I think it's because the org is full of a lot of mediocre minds that simply follow the latest trend. It's a giant corporation, after all.

The much bigger point of entry here that I've seen has been the "ITIL" process structures that have been set up. You end up with hundreds of I.T. staff who's only job is filling out checklists, drawing pretend (and usually wrong and useless) "logical architecture diagrams", and scheduling meetings. You don't find many folks that actually can do difficult development and/or infrastructure work taking those jobs. Instead, the processes become the refuge of both the incompetent and the SJW. Nebulous process that is not possible to get right allows the pushing out of wrong-thinkers.

In a way, Agile-as-a-process makes this kind of thing easier, especially when the teams aren't pure developers, but instead have a lot of people with titles like 'Business Relationship Specialist' or 'Scrum Master'.


Blogger Jack Amok July 26, 2018 11:19 AM  

All you folks complaining about focusing on overall team productivity - and I'm saying this in the kindest way possible - stop being idiots.

Bill Belicheck, whatever management technique he uses, is highly focused on overall team performance. That doesn't stop him from understanding individual contribution to it. In fact, it's essential to maximizing team performance to know what your individual team members are capable of.

Blogger Looking Glass July 26, 2018 11:21 AM  

@23 tz

Structures & systems should be tailored to the company, projects and personnel. I'd say this is "bog-standard Management Theory", but this point is clearly lost on most people in Management. Which is probably why we get so many management Fads.

Blogger Gordon Freece July 26, 2018 11:21 AM  

“Agile could work with a really good micro-manager as PM in a low-trust environment. ”

What do we call a guy who presumes to lecture experienced working professionals in a field where he has zero practical experience of his own?

Blogger Al K. Annossow July 26, 2018 11:24 AM  

Looking Glass wrote:Multi-national and/or Progressive area businesses don't want to pay market-clearing rates for talent.
Whether intentional or not, this might be another reason for agile: make the top performers think they are merely part of a team so they don't ask for more salary or find a better job. Maybe it fools top performers into thinking they are a replaceable cog.

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 11:25 AM  

@9 linked to a site that seems to explain things including the role of HR in Agile. Scaled Agile Framework? Just reading a few things on that site would expand the small post to an entire chapter.

From just that one page:

Incentives

Avoid toxic individual bonuses

– Management-by-Objectives (MBO)-based individual, and team bonuses are toxic for an organization that thrives on collaboration and responsiveness. They set individual against individual and team against team. They should be eliminated entirely. However, fair, transparent incentives that honor collective performance and corporate success (for example, equity and profit sharing plans), allow employees to participate financially in the success of the enterprise and thereby feel they are fairly and justly treated for enterprise success. But avoid incentives that might provide an undesired motivation for people to stay or interfere with the company’s need to move an employee out quickly.

Combine various forms of recognition
– Impactful appreciation must be aligned to corporate values. Each enterprise must find a suitable combination of low frequency formal, recognition with more frequent and intimate, personal acknowledgments. Once set, the power of recognition is put into everyone’s hand. Figure 5 represents an example of a diversified recognition program [4]

Copyright © Scaled Agile, Inc.


It gets worse

Scaled Agile, Inc. should be the renamed the Convergence Consultancy.

Blogger HalibetLector July 26, 2018 11:27 AM  

Jack Amok wrote:Attacking the person who "notices" things about Agile is the most common response I've seen over the years on this topic.

So are you going to respond to my argument, or just attack me?



I've done neither, nor will I.

Blogger Looking Glass July 26, 2018 11:28 AM  

@33 Jack Amok

Every attempt to replicate the Belichick Model has failed miserably, that's probably quite important to this discussion. Unique talents can make less generally optimal approaches work in special ways.

The main question is if Agile allows for easier SJW entryism? If it does, then it should generally be discarded.

Blogger Robert Coble July 26, 2018 11:35 AM  

@9: "Anyway, I still like agile, but there's a huge tendency for people to want to say they're doing agile without understanding any of the points in the manifesto, because they heard that they should be doing agile. Nothing will fix that, but they'd suck no matter what methodology they used.
"

Reminds me of what happened with the U.S. Navy TQL (Total Quality Leadership) program. The Navy spent millions of dollars training everybody from top to bottom, military and Cvil Service, on the tenets and application of TQL. It was a total waste of time and money. All the bureaucrats did (almost all of them) was to apply the TQL buzzwords to the same old management practices - NOTHING CHANGED IN PRACTICE.

This process of mapping buzzwords from one paradigm to a totally different paradigm allows the bureaucrats to claim that they were now DOING the new paradigm. Sorry, but that's what they do to avoid having to actually change their practices.

I was naive enough to believe that (if properly applied), TQL could result in significantly better management with subsequent productivity gains. I proved that it worked with a project. What was the result? I got "FIRED" from the Directorate I was working in. They moved me to a staff position in another Directorate, and I didn't see the new Director for 3 months. (During that time, I kept busy designing and coding a tool to capture the design and automate conversion of ISAM flat files to a relational database schema.) What could be better than having absolutely nothing to do but work on "blue sky" projects of my own design?!?

Fortunately, the Navy came along with an "Early Retirement" program for which I was qualified. I "retired" at age 48 and went to work in private industry: the best career decision I ever made!

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 11:36 AM  

Another from the SA site:
A transparent salary structure brings many advantages like fostering greater trust and honoring the value of employees, independent of their personal negotiation skills. (Indeed, many valuable knowledge workers are poor salary negotiators. In its place, they must feel that they are not disadvantaged by those who lobby more vociferously for money.) However, any company needs to evaluate (and test) carefully what degree of transparency is feasible in their environment.


The HR agent has a rich field of opportunity during this phase, with activities that include:
Elicit discussion at the portfolio level regarding the current state of principles, practices, and roles needed to initiate and govern a set of new value streams.
Guide leaders in developing strategies for dealing with change resistance.
Monitor employee happiness. Look for ways to help them adapt and thrive during change.
Incorporate team performance in employee evaluation.
Move to iterative performance feedback.
Eliminate annual employee reviews and individual performance incentives.
Implement reward systems that require cooperation and unity of achievement.

Structure systems that reward desired behaviors and outcomes with both tangible and intangible rewards.
Promote feedback from those in the value stream as well as from subject-matter expert consultants.
Guide managers in developing career paths for their employees.
Identify strategies for maturing the organization’s internal Lean Change Agents in pursuit of self-sustaining momentum.


Yes, they specifically say TEAM and cooperation over anything individual.

Blogger Looking Glass July 26, 2018 11:41 AM  

@35 Gordon Freece

"He Who Wonders If You Have A Point".

@30 Gordon Freece

http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html (reposting if anyone missed it)

It's a short read, so give it a go if you haven't. I can see why it's gotten popular. It's the Homework Model of Education moved to development. No wonder we're talking about SJW Entryism approaches with it.

Blogger Looking Glass July 26, 2018 11:43 AM  

@41 tz

"Identify strategies for maturing the organization’s internal Lean Change Agents in pursuit of self-sustaining momentum."

So, Kommissars?

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 11:48 AM  

@39 It isn't "Agile" per se that has anything wrong with it. It is that SJW Entryism needs to be detected early, like cancer. So the nonsense arbitrary changes in process might be a sign. The shift away from the individual to a team performance is another. The emphasis on showy things and deprecating the harder stuff that maintains quality.

Some of these won't be obvious like when less refactored code starts getting in because the Scrum Master isn't enforcing quality. Others will be diktats from management "do it this way".

It parallels the "code of conduct" problem - the Meritocracy of GitHub becomes the Safe-Space of GitHub. You can have people who are actually disruptive on a project, but a CoC that starts there ends up trying to prevent any and all hurt feelz.

Agile that is functional can be transformed into the Convergence Cover Agile, and the transformation can be slow but progressive.

If Agile is being forced, the key question is whether it is or can be the functional Agile, or Agile for the sake of convergence.

Blogger Shimshon July 26, 2018 11:49 AM  

@28 "That's not the issue. Multi-national and/or Progressive area businesses don't want to pay market-clearing rates for talent."

Ain't that the truth. I still remember the talks I was having with a friend in 2000 in LA. He worked as a highly paid consultant. I don't think he even considered work that was below $70, such was his ability to earn a decent hourly rate. Already by then, he was telling me about how outsourcing was gaining traction (and the disastrous results that never seemed to educate) and it was only a matter of time before his ability to support himself as an independent contractor in an expensive region like Los Angeles would be over. True, that. I think it was only another year or two before he threw in the towel and went back to full time working for the man.

I still remember my first full time job out of college. It started as an hourly gig. It was a small shop that had made a bad mistake with the conman they hired. I convinced them I could fix their problems and then some, then quoted a price of $20 per hour (this was not Silicon Valley; in 1992 that was not bad!), for full time work. There was a gulp, then...okay.

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 11:51 AM  

@43 more like those one child enforcement grannies or the busybody neighbor in east Germany that reports anything to the Stasi.
Kommisars aren't change agents. Too obvious. This is usually the more subtle person that suggests you stop being so narrow because it makes your coworker feel bad.

Blogger Resident Moron™ July 26, 2018 11:51 AM  

Traceability gets obscured by vague descriptors and/or ill disciplined execution.

Such inattention leaves spaces that slackers will quickly identify and occupy. That’s their primary talent; identifying and occupying unmanaged niches.

The larger the company - the ecosystem, so to speak - the more numerous such spaces tend to be.

Blogger Gordon Freece July 26, 2018 11:53 AM  

If somebody needs to be told not to take obviously stupid advice from obviously crazy people, telling him won’t help.

It’s notable that this discussion has split into knowledgeable practitioners saying “relax”, vs people who never heard of Agile before this morning and are now very concerned about it, whatever it is.


Blogger tz July 26, 2018 12:04 PM  

I should note nothing in SA specifically is designed to cause SJW convergence, just kill the immune system so if/when cancer happens, it won't be detected nor defended against.

I take part of that back - the process per se is technically neutral, but the HR howtos are like a SJW convergence manual. You can reward and recognize your individual stars that do more and win for the team, or you can give participation trophies. Yes, it can happen in waterfall or anything else, but it can be integrated into this version of Agile easily. The 6 brogrammers that get along, then one is replaced with a fragile fainting couch flower that can't assert herself - who has to change? Does she have the problem, or does the "team" now have a problem that suddenly appeared after years of productive co-work?

Blogger rycamor July 26, 2018 12:13 PM  

It's one thing to say "Meh... I can work with Agile, as long as they don't get too psycho about it." but the True Agile devotees are as annoying as crossfitters or vegans.

Blogger Looking Glass July 26, 2018 12:17 PM  

tz wrote:@43 more like those one child enforcement grannies or the busybody neighbor in east Germany that reports anything to the Stasi.

Kommisars aren't change agents. Too obvious. This is usually the more subtle person that suggests you stop being so narrow because it makes your coworker feel bad.


Good point. Far more Stasi-like approach. Gotta keep those murderous Leftist regime approaches straight.

@45 Shimshon

When you're dealing with the capable, you get what you pay for. When you aren't dealing with the capable, you're going to pay a lot more before you realize you haven't saved anything. It's really the discrimination/ignorance issue at the front-end that's the really hard task, especially in highly technical fields.

Someone actually found the studies they did in the late 1980s for how to drive down the pay for American Physicists. If one wonders why the Hard Sciences have been invaded and degraded, that's a pretty good explanation. It's also why the American Energy sector is so effective. Only place that, minus the lean times, will pay clearing rates for the smarter Americans.

Blogger rycamor July 26, 2018 12:17 PM  

Methodologies suck. Turning the work of creating software into a "methodology" doesn't make software any better. Agile, Pair Programming, XP, even the venerable Waterfall... each of these methodologies has attempted to formalize what were at one situation or another sensible informal choices.

These methodologies are completely orthogonal to the central questions of how good your programmers are, how good your software design is, and how motivated your team is. The methodologies can't answer those questions and quite often obfuscate them completely.

The big danger is to put so much attention into the methodology that you lose sight of any chance of innovation or improvement in the actual thing you are trying to create.

Blogger rycamor July 26, 2018 12:22 PM  

The Agile religious war has been mostly successful. Here's a look back to when the war was still in incipient stages. Note that the blogger here is being attacked by the Agilistas for the singular sin of insufficient enthusiasm: Egomania Itself.

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 12:37 PM  

The three stages of a methodological innovation.
1. Paradigm - it is introduced.
2. The Pangloss and Polyanna Panacea - It fixes everything!
3. Practical - it works where it fits.

C++ and OOP went through this.
Agile is going throught this, still in phase 2.

Nothing has changed the observation from the Mythical Man Month (1970's!) that adding more people on an already late project makes it later. Or Peopleware's Laetrile chapter - to every hard problem there is an easy solution that is wrong.

I can't see how OOP or C++ can be used to converge.
Codes of Conduct are usually used for no other purpose.
Agile seems somewhere in between - it is a perfectly good set of practices that by carefully tuning it can be used to favor SJW ends.

Blogger Insight July 26, 2018 12:42 PM  

"A SJW engineer (or any other parasitic engineer) will quickly learn the ropes to hide their lack of ability."

Yeah usually by sucking up to someone in charge in the front office by answering those emails in such a timely manner, bimbos love that stuff and makes the SJWs look diligent.

Blogger Jeff aka Orville July 26, 2018 12:44 PM  

So to sum up, it's not methodology, it's people. If it weren't for damn people, there wouldn't be any problems :-)

And this is due to the pussification of management. Nobody has the balls to fire, or HR has their balls in a lock-box.

Blogger OneWingedShark July 26, 2018 1:30 PM  

Another good piece is Why “Agile” and especially Scrum are terrible.
In this essay; the author describes how the agile and scrum systems enforce "terminal juniority" (which I've seen happen; my brother in law was one of two senior developers on a project that went agile... after which all the plans that they'd been working toward were discarded in favor of "new" frameworks) and how everything becomes hopelessly myopic, having near zero long term vision.

Blogger CM July 26, 2018 1:33 PM  

I was once hired to adapt a method of determining software reliability. You can't measure reliability the same in software as you can hardware. Everything I read on it seemed to point to process being critical in writing robust code. Agile seemed to be a better process, of course I left the job before I really could develop a theory.

Blogger OneWingedShark July 26, 2018 1:41 PM  

Doktor Jeep wrote:Only now in retrospect is it more clear. The drumming of white male heterosexual out of the high paying tech jobs was deliberate. Yes it was done on purpose.
It's worse than that. Being driven out is only one facet, the importation of foreign workers is another, the devaluation of degrees/accomplishments is a third; all of these together are a concentrated effort to destroy a big portion of the American middle-class. (Which is desirable to the globalists because it dampens the ability of the average American to fight, of their purchasing-power, and of their involvement in society. [Someone living off savings simply cannot afford things like someone with a steady and gainful income.])

Blogger Al K. Annossow July 26, 2018 1:46 PM  

Insight wrote:Yeah usually by sucking up to someone in charge in the front office by answering those emails in such a timely manner, bimbos love that stuff and makes the SJWs look diligent.
Yes. And especially in technical fields, a less productive person can talk a slightly less skilled boss into thinking they got the hardest job and thus are as productive as the others. The top talent merely performs without the complaints.

Blogger rycamor July 26, 2018 1:47 PM  

@54 @tz

Spot-on observations.

Blogger Austin Ballast July 26, 2018 1:52 PM  

So Vox, explain how the Waterfall approach prevents the entry problems the mail decries.

It doesn't. Having a really long cycle just means you have a really long cycle. It doesn't guarantee more productivity.

Agile is also far from consistent, as noted by several so far.

====

The biggest issue is that computer science programs no longer have a huge washout time when people hit things like pointers and recursion. Modern languages hold hands so much that mediocre programmers can be productive, to some level, in spite of their mediocrity. That is more of an issue than the inconsistent Agile usage.

Are you now going to rail against computer science programs, since true talent is no longer rewarded as much? Or modern languages since they don't require as much internal knowledge of things.

Have you ever worked on a large project in your life for more than a year? I am talking large as in number of people, not just final content.

Blogger AnvilTiger July 26, 2018 2:35 PM  

Bah. OP is incorrect. Agile can work. Cargo cult agile does not work. But that is because cargo cult. Any methodology or taxonomy can be corrupted by cargo cult. Agile is not especially more susceptible to this than other methods.

Blogger Insight July 26, 2018 2:42 PM  

"The top talent merely performs without the complaints."


And doesn't try to throw non-SJWs under the bus "at the opportune time" - Luke 4:13

Blogger Damelon Brinn July 26, 2018 2:45 PM  

I've never used Agile, but I've read a bit about it and followed several discussions like this one, so I hope I'm not too ignorant to comment. A couple points always come through:

1. If Agile failed for you, you did it wrong. You followed it too slavishly instead of adapting its principles to your workflow, or you didn't follow it slavishly enough so you missed something important.

2. People who criticize it haven't used it or don't understand it.

I dunno, feels a little cultish to me. Maybe that's not the system, just the people who tend to be drawn to it, but that may be a pointless distinction. In terms of the post topic, I suspect that cultish thinking is highly vulnerable to convergence.

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 2:59 PM  

@62 one aspect of True Agile helps, it is even in the SA site - the TEAM is Supreme and should be the ones to decide things like length of sprints, How to integrate refactoring and testing, but especially who is hired to be a member. Convergile parachutes those HR decides should help the team grow.
With Waterfall, you have individual assignments and evaluations so the stars, the supporters, the janitors (clean up, documentation, other helps), the deadweight, and the anti-helpers are visible to all including the manager that usually has his situation based on successfully delivering the specified product by the deadline.
Agile eliminates deadlines, it just has Stories or Tickets that are done by the teams in sprints.
There's also the problem with the owner or customer - with waterfall, there is a hard set of requirements and design that is fully analyzed and signed off on.
The customer can only say what he wants in a weak requirements way even if it is specific, but it can't be too big, or the first part of the process will be to split it into sprint sized pieces. These are open to interpretation, and the problem that a bad implementation that technically meets the acceptance criteria has "equality" with a good implementation. Brittle spaghetti code has "equality" with clean, efficient, modular code.
It isn't supposed to be so, but who is going to enforce it? There is no manager, the team should be able to object but can they or do they get overridden?
Somewhere buried in the Agile books is an emphasis on quality, but there is nothing to REQUIRE it happen as part of the process.
A larger chunk with larger responsibility will usually fail hard in the waterfall case - they just don't know how to code the design properly. Even if informal, there will be pressure on the deadwood. No one has to be a "good team player" as with Agile.
Another problem is it is simpler to discover when replacing someone in a Waterfall. It takes a week or two to come up to speed but then they should be running. In Agile, you can take months "I'm still learning the system", and can blame that the Team is just not being helpful enough.

Basically convergence is not less likely but more visible in waterfall.
In Agile, there are some forms and practices that would actively prevent convergence, but others that actively hide it.
If Agile is being imposed, which version?

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 26, 2018 3:13 PM  

Agile is a project management method. it excels at low-value, small, non-critical problems. The basic Agile method is to make it good enough, and then make it better and better, the same approach Vox is taking with comics.

Agile is not particularly vulnerable to SJW takeover. I recently left a gig at a very very large organization (over 100K employees) and it was full of useless timewasters who had burrowed into the corporation like parasites decades before, and were still there, sucking the lifeblood dry. All the middle management was women and mystery meat, except in the few places where competence was actually needed. The company literally had a policy of not hiring White men. All of the testing, and almost all of the coding was done by H1bs.
You literally could not be more converged than this company unless you were a college or a Lesbian book store. And they had never heard of Agile development.

My current gig is pure Agile. Nary a hint of convergence. But then there's almost no HR, and all the developers are Ukrainian.

The key is that HR and the SJWs will take advantage of any large change to try to push their agenda. It has nothing to do with what the change is, and everything to do with the opportunity the change presents. This problem has nothing to do with Agile, and everything to do with letting SJWs have a voice in how you run your organization.

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 3:23 PM  

SJW convergence is separate from deadwood. When I started my career there were no SJWs, no convergence, but I worked at one of the automakers, and there was a lot of deadwood, especially the salaried personnel. I was there as a contractor to do the actual work.

Blogger Robert Coble July 26, 2018 3:29 PM  

References to The Mythical Man-Month (1975, updated in 2010) and Peopleware (1999, updated in 2013) usually receive snarky comments, re: "The 1970s/1990s are calling." However, Frederick P. Brooks Jr., Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister (as well as other giants in the field) observed and noted several problems in the software development realm a long (relatively speaking) time ago.

There are multiple problems with large (number of people, not just technical scope) software projects, and a considerable literature detailing what can (and has) gone wrong with such projects and WHY. One such disaster (of "Gallopin' Gertie" dimensions) was the IRS Tax System Modernization project. (Google: "irs tax system modernization failure") Estimates for boondoggle development (that was never fielded) range from $2-$7 BILLION USD over 10 years, depending on who is doing the estimating. (Who are you going to believe: the GAO or the IRS?)

One of Fred Brooks' invaluable contributions was the identification of the communications bottleneck. As the number of participants (size of the project in terms of number of people working on it) increases linearly, the total number of communication links between people increases exponentially: N(N-1)/2 where N is the number of people. Eventually, it takes so much time communicating that productivity comes to a standstill. (One of the reasons I insisted on "NO STATUS MEETINGS" on my projects. If you (senior management) want to know the current status, it is "The project is not yet completed. When we finish, I'll tell you. Otherwise, you sound like a 4-year old on a long road trip: 'Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?' Bugger off!"

Some tasks are partitionable; others are not. Yet managers (and far too many developers) still think linearly in terms of effort and time to produce a large system, i.e., the "mythical man-month." After all, if one woman can produce a baby in 9 months, there is no (managerial) reason that 9 women could not produce a baby in 1 month. Good luck with THAT kind of linear thinking for software development projects! Another problem is the managerial ASSUMPTION that man-months are interchangeable. If George Genius can whip out 100,000 SLOC of error-free code per day, well, of course, he can crank out 3,000,000 SLOCK per man-month, from now to eternity. And if he can't, we always have Danny Diversity and Betty Bugwright ready to fill in the gap, because "interchangeable man-months."

The more modern practices attempt to alleviate that communication bottleneck (as well as a host of other problems). Do they succeed? In some case, yes; in others, not such much. It all depends on the people involved. Good competent people can overcome a host of problems (including a not-necessarily optimum methodology forced on them, usually, by upper management because it's the next "hot" thing in the trade journals). Mediocre or incompetents can "screw the pooch" regardless of (or in spite of) the methodology. Bottom line: you get what you pay for - if you want the best result, hire the best people. The problem is that sufficient quantities of the "best people" don't exist. The management problem then shifts to solving the problem using less than the best lower-level managers and technical people.

It still surprises me how few there are in the field who bother to learn the "lessons from the past." They would much rather consider themselves "geniuses" and only look at the "new, shiny, better, even mo' better, improved" way of doing things.

Paraphrasing Santayana:

"Those who have no knowledge of the past are condemned to repeat it."

Blogger Al K. Annossow July 26, 2018 3:33 PM  

I wonder how the ancient Egyptians handled the large pyramid projects. There must be something in the hieroglyphics describing what they learned from the aliens about how to do management correctly. I've read that beer helped.

Blogger maniacprovost July 26, 2018 3:38 PM  

My workplace doesn't know what Agile is, but they mandated daily scrums. I show up once a month to publicly prod people into delivering their deliverables.

Blogger SirHamster July 26, 2018 3:48 PM  

AnvilTiger wrote:Bah. OP is incorrect. Agile can work. Cargo cult agile does not work.

The topic is not about Agile's ability to work, or what "True Agile" is.

The topic is the observation that Agile as a framework provides weakpoints for SJW infiltration.

Another weakpoint to add to the list is that the Agile defenders are too busy defending their awesome framework to address the SJW vulnerabilities.

Maybe the SJW vulnerabilities aren't unique to Agile. But Agile demonstrably has them.

Okay, "True Agile" won't do the bad things. But "Agile" will be used at some company to inject SJWs values and culture. Since you won't be the immune system in that particular company to ID this as FakeAgile, the useful thing is to generally correlate Agile with SJW infiltration risk.

Blogger Johnny Reb July 26, 2018 4:20 PM  

So glad I've managed to avoid most of the SJW convergence nonsense so far but good reading for when...

Even the rabbit trail this has mostly evolved into helps. It gives me an idea as to why a simple packet of code to be inserted in the file chain took two years to get out to the fleet. Rinse and repeat...


@41 tz

"Identify strategies for maturing the organization’s internal Lean Change Agents in pursuit of self-sustaining momentum."

So I guess that means fat SJW's are out? Unless the project's going down hill I guess?

Blogger Lance E July 26, 2018 4:27 PM  

Looking Glass wrote:The main question is if Agile allows for easier SJW entryism? If it does, then it should generally be discarded.

The answer is no, it doesn't. It makes entryism harder. It forces developers to work together on projects instead of sequestering themselves for months at a time. When you have deliverables every two weeks, and the entire team is interacting with you and getting status updates every day, it's much harder to hide poor performance than if you check in once every quarter and make up some BS excuse about why things are moving slowly.

Executives are going to "measure" team velocity implicitly if you don't do it explicitly, and their implicit measurements based on e.g. headcount are always hyper-optimistic. They don't care about differences in individual productivity - which are inevitable because of the Pareto principle - they care about whether or not their projects are getting done. And they want it done yesterday. "It'll be done when it's done" might work for small startups, but not in competitive high-pressure environments.

Agile is converged because tech is converged. Why would anyone listen to the opinion of someone at GitHub, which is among the most converged of all?

Blogger Scott July 26, 2018 4:46 PM  

Agile is an industry, avoid it. Good, experienced developers generally produce good products.

Crappy developers can't code or innovate so they focus on process (agile). Managers LOVE process. The end.

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 4:53 PM  

@74 The problem is Waterfall + PC means the SJWs are relegated to one corner of the office. Agile + PC means it doesn't matter if #GirlsCantCode, you can't blame them when the "Team" has problems. It can't be diversity!

Another point you make is everyone is FORCED to interact with everyone else. If the team itself has absolute veto on hiring people and there aren't any SJWs, they will avoid being converged. If HR insists on a team not having more than half white or asian males?

And you miss the entire point. SJW convergence is about changing "the project" that is getting done from technical and engineering excellence to implementing diversity. Diversity is the ultimate cargo cult because the SJWs believe that enough Magic LGBTQ+, Negresses, etc. and the equality fairy will send in the magic gnomes to write perfect code while you sleep. They are waiting for Godot, the Great Pumpkin.

I've noticed little things like Apple's iPhone messaging having text going outside of the bubbles. Steve Jobs would have fired the entire department. Google's search too, and not just conservative things, the keywords I used to be able to zero in on some information easily and now it is a game to try to outguess the algorithmic changes that seem to want to present their idea of "relevance". THAT "Agile" is the one being copied.

Blogger Ryan G July 26, 2018 5:49 PM  

Man, I actually had to deal with this less than a few hours ago. You'd think working on a military base with military and ex-military coders would make the organization immune to such nonsense, but management in this case is absolutely 100% on the Agile train.

For starters, we have a meetings every day called Scrums. Now, in some organizations this makes sense - multiple people working in the same code base, committing to the same repository, can step on each other's toes in all sorts of ways. That isn't the case with my organization. Everyone has their own little fiefdom and only rarely do they interact with each other. Mostly our scrums involve wasting 15 minutes listening to a summary of what they did, on a subset of the code base only they are working on, that is only slightly different than the previous day. That's at least tolerable.

What drives me up a wall, however, is that there are three other meetings that occur every spring (2 week development cycles). This is something that's a first for me since my four other employers, who each insisted *they* were practicing The One True version of Agile, never did them. These meetings are all over an hour in length and are mind-numbingly boring. The two that stand out though are the "refinement" meetings. In one meeting, we "point" everything which is supposed to calculate our velocity. In the next meeting, we actually give time estimations.

A recurring problem brought up during our retrospectives (another meeting usually an hour in length) is the weak correlation between our points and our time actually working tickets. I offered the solution of doing the time estimation meeting before, or at the same time as, the scoring meeting and linking the points to the time estimate. My colleagues scoffed at this, saying that points are for management and estimates are "for us" - a non-answer, answer. When I asked them to explain, my head manager actually got really angry with me and derided me for trying to disrupt the "culture" he was trying to create. This culminated by an invocation of authority - "What formal training have you been to on Agile? All of these guys (indicating the team) and me have been through hours of training conducted by industry leaders like Google, Facebook, etc."

At that point it became clear that for as much as we were encouraged (demanded, really) to share our ideas and opinions at these meetings, certain fundamental assumptions were simply to go unquestioned. I've never seen someone get so emotionally involved with a flipping _process_ before, but, as I otherwise really like this job (and get paid a lot), I've resolved to just keep my head down from here on out and just agree with the group. After all, it isn't my money being wasted (just yours and every other taxpayer).

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 6:39 PM  

@77 What better way to cripple the competition than to promote a disasterous methodology to the industry that will guarantee project failure?

I too had the point system and for some reason that could never be explained except it was divinely revealed in the holy book of Agile they had to be fibonacci numbers. A subtle change to a meatball buried deep with in an unknown depth of spaghetti code? Just come up with some random number. I pointed out that statistics involve both standard deviation as well as average. At least we could still modify some of the things with a good reason but we also had domain experts that defeated the purpose in the same way.

Blogger Scott July 26, 2018 6:45 PM  

@63. AnvilTiger

Bah. OP is incorrect. Agile can work.

Sure, it can work, but at what expense, and who's expense? In other words a project with enough good developers can work DESPITE agile.

Agile is an industry. Read @77 carefully esp. "hours of training conducted by industry leaders like Google, Facebook, etc."

Agile enables and multiplies mediocrity. It's all about the process.

Blogger Bob Loblaw July 26, 2018 8:17 PM  

Sure, it can work, but at what expense, and who's expense? In other words a project with enough good developers can work DESPITE agile.

That was my experience. I used to work for one of the biggest corps in the US. They pushed "agile" and the Atlassian tools on us. Of course they spouted all the agile nonsense that went along with it, but the real reason for the switch was to make it easy to slot in Indian contractors (in India). Every time someone left he wasn't replaced. Every time a team grew it grew in India.

Software developers in the US spend all their time trying to integrate poor quality code written by people who don't see the big picture and don't seem to care enough to test their code. It's a terribly inefficient process, but since you can hire six Indians for one American, it ends up being cheaper all the same.

Eventually all that company's software development will happen in India. Before I left I was tempted to go to a shareholder's meeting and suggest since we were so enamored with Indians we ought to outsource senior management.

Blogger Skyler the Weird July 26, 2018 9:29 PM  

The Indians can't really write the code though. Rajiv's mother had a cousin that needed a job and Rajiv hired her at IndPac. She can't really speak English too well and has Indira call on her behalf when she messes up her MS Sql Developer login scripts. She can't really code so someone elsewhere in Oceania has to fix her software but can't send negative feedback on her crappy coding cause outsourcing is 'saving' so much money.

Blogger Daniel July 26, 2018 9:48 PM  

This

Blogger Daniel July 26, 2018 9:52 PM  

This and Powerful ides are why software productivity improved so much in the last years. Not the methologies

Blogger Daniel July 26, 2018 9:58 PM  

Excelent

Blogger tz July 26, 2018 10:19 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Jack Amok July 26, 2018 11:00 PM  

The main question is if Agile allows for easier SJW entryism? If it does, then it should generally be discarded.

Sure, so let's look at that.

As someone pointed out earlier, there's little-a agile, and big-A Agile. Little-a agile is a set of techniques that in theory help solve project management problems. Big-A Agile is a management/training cult with all the typical associated faddishness, books, consultants, and trainers who, for $250 and a wasted Saturday, will declare you a Certified Scrum Master.

Clearly anything that lets you buy a credential is bad news, so big-A Agile can be written off.

But what about little-a agile? It's based on the idea that the longer you work on something, the better you'll understand it. Therefor, decisions made later in a project will generally be better than ones made earlier. So you have a bunch of techniques to help you defer decisions until you have enough information to make them well, without being lost and directionless in the meantime.

There's nothing particularly amenable to SJWs about litte-a agile. As someone else said, it's probably the opposite. When your delivery cadence is two weeks, it's harder to hide failure than when it's six months.

I've been doing software management for long time, and gotten pretty good at it. There's nothing wrong or inherently SJW-friendly about agile methodologies.

Again, if anything, it's more SJW-hostile than most other techniques. There really is one and only one requirement for SJW entryism into an otherwise healthy organization: abdication of responsibility by the leadership. Leaders who are engaged and take their job seriously - even if they haven't read Vox's book and have never heard the term SJW - will root out these troublemakers as a matter of course because they are troublemakers. If Suzy the SJW is spending her blue-haird, tatted-up time writing Codes of Conduct instead of code that compiles, her attentive boss will pip her and give someone else her job.

By forcing projects to run at the smallest possible scale in time and scope, agile encourages more engaged leadership. Of course that doesn't matter if you have a bunch of Ivy-League lunkheads in management, they'll screw up anything.

Blogger God Emperor Memes July 26, 2018 11:42 PM  

And yet it was, is, and ever will be those White men who create viable businesses which are then converged and destroyed by liberal infiltrators.
The cultural Marxists are setting the scene for it to be impossible to conduct business without them, even as they kill the golden geese.

Blogger Paul M July 26, 2018 11:56 PM  

Gordon Freece wrote:That’s BS. … Agile is yet another development fad, but the essential ideas are far more useful than most.
Most successful project I ever worked on was an agile "feature driven design" project with fortnightly sprints. The tech lead was damn good, and we had a very precise definition of what exactly the software was going to do.

Blogger Paul M July 27, 2018 1:04 AM  

Lance E wrote:Looking Glass wrote:The main question is if Agile allows for easier SJW entryism? If it does, then it should generally be discarded.

The answer is no, it doesn't. It makes entryism harder. It forces developers to work together on projects instead of sequestering themselves for months at a time.


Agreed. At least - if what I'm thinking of is the true Agile. My experience of it was clearly defined tasks with measurable outcomes. At the start of the sprint, the app didn't do X, and now it does. An integration test failed, and now it doesn't. Code review is a great idea, even if it is an annoyance having to do it (on either side of the table).

The whole "the team as a whole gets rewarded" is not something I associate with Agile, and I have no idea where the idea comes from. That HR pamphlet on agile seem to me to be not about how to do Agile, but how to mitigate its dreadful tendency to identify stars and slackers. That is, that HR pamphlet is actually about how to do anti-agile.

Blogger God Emperor Memes July 27, 2018 1:08 AM  

In Australia, we usually call him/her "Member of Parliament".

Blogger Paul M July 27, 2018 1:09 AM  

Jack Amok wrote:There really is one and only one requirement for SJW entryism into an otherwise healthy organization: abdication of responsibility by the leadership.

This. And the #1 responsibility that management abdicates, causing a waterfall of problems, is choosing who to hire and fire.

Blogger Doug Cranmer July 27, 2018 1:20 AM  

Completely this.

It's always about leadership.

The leadership from the top.

How the hell did that get forgotten?

Don't bother. We all know.

The three ism's of the 21'st century.

Communism. Feminism. And Multiculturalism.

Blogger Ryan G July 27, 2018 1:25 AM  

The whole "Agile" process just bugs me. In what other complex human endeavor do people just "eyeball" the intended goal, make redesign decisions on the fly, and frequently release end products that can only generously be called "mostly done"? I fully realize releasing a patch to fix something isn't nearly as costly as a collapsed bridge, but I don't see how companies really save all that much when they have to "maintain" code for *decades* after it's supposedly done. A system that is well designed from the get go should be perfectly scalable or customizable without requiring devs potentially years down the road to re-learn obsolete technologies and tools.

So much of this crap has to do with managers, business people in general, and sychophantic team leads for whom the word "no" doesn't exist in their vocabulary. This in turn is why I believe so much buggy, resource-hogging software exists out there. You look at some of the software written "the old way" from the 70s 80s and even early 90s, and it all works like a dream (even if it is like reading hieroglyphics trying to understand it sometimes). I remember hearing about some weather program written in pure C back in the 80s that was pretty much continuously operating, non-stop, until a few years ago when the machine running it finally ran out of replacement parts. They then 'upgraded' the system and had their first crash in almost 30 years of continuous operation within a month.

Blogger Jack Amok July 27, 2018 1:56 AM  

In what other complex human endeavor do people just "eyeball" the intended goal...

Almost all of them.

Just about every successful new project is an iterative one. You're just misunderstanding what the iterative deliverables in, say, building a bridge are. Or an airplane.

Orville and Wilbur Wright were just a couple of bicycle mechanics after all. Who, before they built their airplane, iterated on a wind tunnel and then iterated on air foil designs in the wind tunnel. They didn't sit down at a desk and Gantt Chart out a project plan for Kitty Hawk then grind through it.

Blogger Dirk Manly July 28, 2018 5:29 AM  

@87

"The cultural Marxists are setting the scene for it to be impossible to conduct business without them, even as they kill the golden geese."


The cultural Marxists are setting the scene for it to be impossible to conduct business without killing them.

Blogger tz July 28, 2018 2:56 PM  

The Mythical Man Month explained it as 9 women being able to have one baby in one month.

The Agile snake oil asserts that 20 women can have one baby at the completion of a two week sprint, and if it doesn't happen they are just not team players or it is the fault of the oppressive patriarchy or that it wasn't diverse enough.

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