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Commercial Interests Censoring Failures

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Philippe Kruchten described the Agile movementt as:

The agile movement is in some ways a bit like a teenager: very self-conscious, checking constantly its appearance in a mirror, accepting few criticisms, only interested in being with its peers, rejecting en bloc all wisdom from the past, just because it is from the past, adopting fads and new jargon, at times cocky and arrogant.

The first of these unmentionables is that commercial interests are censoring failures.  The second is pretending agile is not a business.  While the third is our failure to dampen negative behaviors because we fail to face the failures.  This is not a new topic, but it is seldomly discussed and when it is, it is uncomfortable for many.

Mike Vizdos put it another way, asking:

Sooo… besides being the elephant in the room… what does Captain Obvious need to teach us about Scrum “Coaches” versus “Consultants” versus “Mentors”?

One of the most vocal bloggers about failures is Michael Sahota:

I ran a quick fist of five survey with first eight coaches and then with twelve as people. The question was: “How many (percent) of your Agile transitions have been successful? Zero for none. Five for all.” The results confirmed what I have suspected and experienced: a single one, lot’s of twos and threes, and one four. No zeros or fives.
...I believe that we as a community need focus more attention on models, patterns and guides for Agile transition and adoption. Lot’s of open territory here.

And William Pietri wrote about Agile's second chasm, and how we fell in:

...Because those later adopters are numerically greater, they’ll be the majority of the market. And unlike early adopters, who tend to be relatively self-sufficient, they will consume more services, making them an even bigger influence. They’ll also tend to be the least sophisticated consumers, the least able to tell the difference between the product they want and the product they need.

Putting that together, it suggests that when people want an idea, the most money can be made by selling products that mainly serve to make later adopters look or feel like they’re getting somewhere. Any actual work or discomfort beyond that necessary to improve appearances would be a negative. Bad products and bad ideas could drive out the good ones, resulting in a pure fad. The common perception of the idea would come to be defined by the majority’s behavior and results, burying the original notion.
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.

And this brings us full-circle.  As the agile movement grows, commercial interests have become the prevaling voice in the community.  But rather than lament, or judge, or justify, maybe we can use our own theory (or rather Deming's) and ask how the system created this instead of blaming individual contributors.  If we are unhappy with the results, we might even ask if the system can be changed and how.

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