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Is Agile in the Trough of Disillusionment?

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Gartner hype cycle is a representation of the maturity of any new technology. As a part of its cycle, it characterizes the over enthusiasm and the following disillusionment which occurs when a new technology is introduced. Given that Agile recently celebrated 10 years, disillusionment should be the last thought. Or is it?

William Pietri mentioned that he was delighted a few years back when the general community started taking agile seriously. It seemed that the mission had been achieved. However, now the feeling is different.

At the time, it was very exciting. In retrospect, perhaps that was the beginning of our doom: the car passed the crest, picked up speed, and careened out of control. Now the state of the Agile world regularly embarrasses me, and I think I’ve figured out why.

According to William, though Agile waved over the first chasm, it fell in the second chasm. This is the situation in which late adopters don't measure the actual benefit that they have received. Rather, they judge their money's worth by feeling and appearance. Most money is made by making late adopters feel like that they have got something and are getting somewhere.

That’s the second chasm:an idea that provides strong benefits to early adopters gets watered down to near-uselessness by mainstream consumers and too-accommodating vendors.

Steven Willems suggested that the industry picked up on the Agile buzzword and today Agile is a victim of its own popularity. Steven added that, like any popular movement which is failing to deliver, a new trend starts to support and provide counterweight. This time around, that happens to be the Craftsmanship movement. However, the root cause for failure might still be the same,

My point is, once marketing and the money will discover it, it will be doomed as well. Unless, unless the craftsmanship movement can keep its anarchistic nature. Unless it can stay underground and irritate the would-be-agilists, reminding them what is all about day after day. Asking them constantly why we have a failing build for 25 days in a row. Why our scrum board is full of clutter and why it takes all this time to manage it? Why the documentation is so scarce? ...

A little more than a year back, James Shore had written about the decline of Agile. James had mentioned that people need to be made aware of the ground realities. They need sound engineering practices, strong customer voice, high quality communication channels and tooling. If teams think that they can work around these then they are doomed for failure.

The good Agile--the real Agile--it really works. I've seen it. My colleagues have seen it. It's been repeated hundreds of times, and some of those projects have succeeded for years. But those hundreds of successes will be drowned out by the thousands of failures.

Responding to a flurry of comments, William Pietri mentioned that pre-chasm Agile had delivered pretty much what it set out to. The post-chasm Agile was suited to what people wanted to buy rather than what they needed. That explains the state of Agile as it is today. He gave an interesting example,

I’m told that the people who originated the butter compartment in the refrigerator carefully thinned the door insulation near it, so that the butter was kept cool but not cold. That way the butter stayed spreadable. But all most people understood from looking at it was that there was suddenly a special place for butter, which seemed neat, so that’s what other manufacturers built, and that’s now what we have today. The form was preserved even as the point was lost.

What do you think?

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