Why do some people cringe, when they hear of Agile?

Anna Majowska
2 min readOct 16, 2019

The meaning of the term “Agile” has been shifting, as it got more popular over the last decade. It used to relate specifically to particular methods of project management. These days, we find it used in all aspects of business, and all areas of human collaboration. No wonder, that it’s quite easy to come across people who are completely unenthusiastic about it.
But, is it still possible, in 2019, to correctly outline what it is, and what it’s not?

What Agile project management might be?

  1. Being able to recognize current problems, as well as opportunities, and plan on-point actions on them, in an Agile manner. The agility of that manner will lie in making changes that are small and achievable, but make
    a big impact.
  2. Taking a broader view at an organisation, in order to improve all of its inner systems and teams — rather than trying to apply changes to just one cog in the machine. They’re all interconnected, so improvements will work only when synced, not cherry-picked.
  3. Encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing among the team, not only to improve quality of the delivered product, but also of the team itself.

And, what Agile project management most likely is not?

  1. Using meaningless jargon to describe very simple actions, nor having fluff words padding every sentence uttered towards the team, and about the company.
  2. Not recognising problems at hand, due to being focused on “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”, and mistakenly trusting, that playing the Agile card will resolve or diminish them.
  3. Using empty terms to define and size team goals, and — in result — misinterpreting a goal for a strategy.
  4. Applying the Agile Manifesto half-way through — for example, doing retrospectives, but failing to use the feedback they bring, to improve future work. Though the Manifesto is open to some interpretation, it should not be misunderstood, nor taken out of context.
  5. A goal in itself. Becoming Agile is not what you want your team to achieve. What you may want, is for them to deliver better results, by means of an Agile strategy.

It could then be said, that the good kind of Agile is directed at actions, while the wrong kind circles around how the work or team is being talked about, presented and sold to others.
Doing it, rather than talking about it, would be the cure to so many developers cringing on hearing the word!

Originally posted on the Kanban Tool Blog.