These people look pretty agile, no?
I hate corporate buzzwords more than anyone, so when my company decided to implement the agile workflow for our development team a couple of months ago I was naturally dubious. My main objection to it however was that our team was already very agile. In fact let’s have a quick look at the agile manifesto from the Wiki page:
Individuals and interactions over Processes and tools
Working software over Comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation
Responding to change over Following a plan
To me this sums up what our team was already doing, so why the hell we decided we need to piss everyone off by introducing idiotic terms such as:
- Sprint – Basically just a 1 or 2 week chunk of work, usually followed by a code release. We were already doing this!!!
- Stories – This just refers to a bug fix or particular project or part of a project you have to work on. In other words “a bit of work”. I don’t really know how any team would work if they didn’t already have some version of this!?
- Scrums – Simply refers to teams (e.g. real and meaningful terms like “backend team” and “frontend team” now become meaningless, infantilised names like “red scrum” and “blue scrum” …*pukes in mouth*… and so on). Luckily no one has tried calling any of our teams a scrum yet, if they do it might tip me over the edge 🙂
To add insult to injury, we also have to have a 2 hour meeting before every “sprint” to comment on and estimate the time that will be taken for every single “story” that is due to be worked on (or should that be “told”?!).
So that means I am hearing about and attempting to estimate for things I have no idea about, and likewise people are doing that for my projects as well. If that doesn’t strike you as Pointless, then I’m Richard Osman.
On top of that, there is also the daily stand up where people tell you what they did yesterday and what they are going to do today (wake up at the back!). To be fair, although further wasted time, it is only about 5 minutes, so I can deal with this one.
However, the final dog turd on top of your agile ice cream sunday is that they then have to hire a product manager who is no doubt getting paid twice as much as the average developer to spin us all this bullshit and keep us in line.
Look… Let’s get things clear, I’m not against having a defined workflow and proper systems in place so developers 1 can get on with their jobs. I am not even against having product managers. Someone has to have an overview of what’s happening in all areas. What annoys me is (clearly) all this buzzword rubbish that is just redefining things that have existed for decades that then seem to somehow justify someone’s ridiculously high pay-check. These people act like they are performing the dark arts when, from my perspective, pretty much anyone with slightly above average organisational skills could do their job. The way I see things is that if I can do your job, but you cannot do mine, I should get paid more than you.
Alas, it doesn’t seem to work like that (and I’ve known that for years), but money isn’t everything as we all know, so it’s not worth dwelling on much more than an occasional blog rant 😉
Agile – The Good bits
That’s the rant bit over! 2 Never one to only present one side of an argument, let’s find some positives in the agile process:
- We’ve started 2 week code releases instead of 1 – More time to write and test code before it goes live.
- We get bugged less by marketing/random people to fix bugs, like, right now! – Everything has to go through the product manager now so we are getting less ad hoc requests.
- More cakes and sweets – OK this isn’t helping much when you are trying to keep the sugar intake to a minimum but it’s nice to have a treat every now and then!
Getting Some Agile In Your Life?
I almost cannot believe I am saying this but the original premise of the post was to explore the idea of running some of the agile processes in my “real life” (minus all the bullshit buzzwords, of course!).
Just think about it, we are all pressed for time, we all have a “to do” list a mile long, things we want to achieve whether short or long term goals. On the other hand we constantly have other people vying for our time, because they want to see us (which is obviously nice), or occasionally because they may have a different agenda to us (which could be bad).
So is having a more formal system in place in order to get our shit done really the worst idea?
Why do we think it is ok to have all of this stuff laid on us at work, yet in our private lives we just go with the flow?
Many of us will utilise the classic “to do” list and this no doubt works wonders. I haven’t made one for a while, and feel I have been particularly unproductive over the last few weeks. I can feel the pressure of the many unwritten down things I want to get done building up on me, for example!
So maybe all I am talking about is making time for our own “pre-sprint meeting” every 1 or 2 weeks, to write down some “stories” 3 for what we want to get done in that next period. I think this doesn’t sound too dissimilar to FFBF’s “weekly rituals” he laid out in his 2015 goals, and while I think I’ll pass on his “daily stand-ups/rituals” 😉 I think a weekly or bi-weekly task setting could be a good idea. I have therefore added this to my 2015 goals list.
There are some obvious downsides of this, and it will be a balance to see what works best.
I don’t want my whole life to become one long list of things to tick off: Wash car, tick, go and see Nan, tick… and so on. We need some randomness and spontaneity in our lives (well I do anyway!).
The counter argument, well, goes straight back to the very first argument I made really. Time is short and we must write down and prioritise the things we want to do, otherwise people or other external entities 4 will end up filling up our time.
It’s kind of a sad state of affairs that I (for example) feel I have to write down that it is a priority to go and see my Nan, but it is what it is.
Things that should be priorities seem to get lost very easily in the fast, interconnected, insanely busy, dare I say… Agile, world we live in.
I expect many of you can relate.
- Replace with your job title, as I am sure this kind of thing happens across all industries ↩
- I have to admit I wasn’t even planning on that when I started the article but got a bit carried away. And as usual it felt gooooood. 🙂 ↩
- Sorry… I said without the bullshit buzzwords didn’t I? No more! Promise ↩
- That sounded a bit ominous didn’t it!? Anyway you know what I meant. 🙂 ↩