The Agile Industrial Complex & its antidotes

This is a collection of links from Daniel Mezick (Site, LinkedIn, Twitter), Chris Matts (Blog, LinkedIn, Twitter) and Luca Minudel (Blog, LinkedIn, Twitter), on topics related to the Agile Industrial Complex (AIC). A related video is here: https://youtu.be/_Ow-i2C5MZY

Please feel free to copy/share this content to inform Agile practitioners, CxO and decision-makers, and organisations looking to adopt Agile to help them make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

Getting to good Agile with the antidotes to the Agile Industrial Complex

Agile has been successful in alleviating the painful failures caused by the industrial age approaches applied to software development. Nowadays successes of large tech companies are built on practices that have their roots in Agile software development. And the wave of modern ways of working has been driven by Agile which now, with Lean and Complexity is one of the three pillars.

To get to good Agile, look at this:
– Invitation-based leadership, Daniel Mezick: https://invitingleadership.com/
– Burst your framework bubble and get involved in the Lean-Agile Community: link
– How large and successful companies achieved Agility at scale, Luca Minudel: https://www.smharter.com/blog/how-large-successful-companies-achieve-agility-at-scale/
– One of the various alternatives to canned solutions and standard recipes, Giovanni Asproni and Luca Minudel: http://p2.fed.wiki/

To hear more about the signs of hope, the antidots and what to do to solve the problems of the Agile Industry Complex, follow Daniel Mezick, Chris Matts and Luca Minudel and their panels, Meetups and conference sessions on this topic. Follow also The Open Leadership Network for calls to action.

The history of the term Agile Industrial Complex

– A Brief History of the term: https://newtechusa.net/aic-history/

Agile Imposition

– The Agile Imposition and the Agile Industrial Complex, Daniel Mezick: http://newtechusa.net/aic/

– The Agile Imposition Revisited: https://newtechusa.net/the-agile-imposition/

– Agile Imposition, Martin Fowler: https://www.martinfowler.com/bliki/AgileImposition.html

– The State of Agile Software in 2018, Martin Fowler https://martinfowler.com/articles/agile-aus-2018.html

– Nobody Expects the Agile Imposition: https://www.perlmonks.org/?node_id=820672

– Open space Agile, Daniel Mezick: https://openspaceagility.com/

– Open leadership, Daniel Mezick: https://openleadershipnetwork.com/patterns/

Scaled Agile frameworks detrimental to Agile and Agility

– A collection of comments on SAFe from SAFe, Agile, and Management leading experts, Luca Minudel: https://www.smharter.com/blog/safe-a-collection-of-comments-from-leading-experts/

– The mixed results of companies scaling with scaled frameworks and the made-up “success” stories, Luca Minudel: https://www.smharter.com/blog/the-mixed-results-of-companies-scaling-agile-with-a-scaled-framework/

– Lean UX and Scrum creators say SAFe integration of their approaches is flawed: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6859034441424109568/

– Scaled frameworks have contributed to creating an Agile theatre: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/lucaminudel_am-i-missing-something-important-here-fyi-activity-6885003251209551872-Y65c

– Another collection of articles on SAFe from practitioners
Mark Levison – https://agilepainrelief.com/glossary/safe-scaled-agile-framework
Sam Haynes, Marty Cagan – https://levelup.gitconnected.com/safe-a-waterfall-pig-with-agile-lipstick-dd13a200b008
Kevin Bendeler – https://kevinbendeler.medium.com/i-dont-like-safe-9a003773e42c
Luca Minudel – https://www.smharter.com/blog/2020/06/17/my-opinion-on-the-scaled-agile-frameworks-and-safe-and-related-facts/
Paweł Huryn – https://www.phuryn.com/watch-out-waterfall-ahead-the-truth-about-safe/
Wolfram Müller – https://www.linkedin.com/posts/blue-dolphin_keepawayfromessentialsafe-situation-but-activity-6972454908406956033-pu-A/

Large consultancy firms’ faulty recipes

None of these consultancy firms is run using Lean and Agile practices or principles. None of them has a record of successful deliveries achieved by adopting Lean and Agile practices or principles. None of them shows enough understanding and experience to offer professional services in this field.

– The Agile Manager, McKinsey (the level of misunderstanding of Agile in these articles speaks for itself): https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/the-agile-manager and https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/the-five-trademarks-of-agile-organizations

– Agile Pool. McKinsey (an example of the many complete misunderstanding of key Agile principles, spelt out): https://www.linkedin.com/posts/lucaminudel_agile-butnotlikethis-bigconsultancyfirmsblunders-activity-6930512798393233408-JzGl/

– Bimodal IT, Two speed IT from Gartner, McKinsey et alt, Martin Fowler: https://martinfowler.com/bliki/BimodalIT.html

– Beware of Waterfall in disguise proposed By Gartner, Luca Minudel: https://www.smharter.com/blog/2018/01/10/gartner-you-got-it-wrong-the-new-lean-agile-waterfall-is-not-cool/

Gartner, 2022 still unable to learn and understand the basics of Agile, Allen Holub:

Deloitte is mainly selling SAFe transformation. An emblematic mistake they did in the past and that periodically resurface in social media is the Deloit’s Agile tube map: 7 things wrong with ’s Agile Tube Map: https://medium.com/tech-sojourna/7-things-wrong-with-deloittes-agile-tube-map-641192e20068

Boston Consulting Group not understanding that the whole point of the Spotify (not a) model is to grow it internally with your own ways of working that fit you, not copying it from someone else (just one example of a huge quantity of low-quality material still produced by people with zero experience in Agile):
BCG in mid-2022 is still posting a high volume of low-quality Agile content with mistakes that are expected from an Advanced Beginner, not from a firm posing as expert.

Accenture AutoScrum that is a bigger customised version of SAFe, to make it worse than it already is:

– More in general small and big consultancy firms selling transformations based on a customisation of SAFe or the Spotify (not a) model are better avoided

– The tragedy of commons that leads to this dynamic making everyone miserable, suggested by Daniel Mezick: http://systems-thinking.org/arch/arch.htm#archtc

A culture that finds support in the Agile Industrial Complex

– Introducing Failureship – The dark twin of Leadership, Chris Matts: https://theitriskmanager.com/2021/10/24/introducing-failureship-the-dark-twin-of-leadership/

– Blog with more posts on the Failureship, Chris Matts: https://theitriskmanager.com/

– The Communities of Solutions instead of communities of needs, Chriss Matts: (video) https://vimeo.com/190010827

A blooming industry to fake Agile expertise

– A blooming industry of services helping consultancy firms fake agile expertise, Luca Minudel: https://www.smharter.com/blog/a-blooming-industry-of-services-helping-consultancy-firms-fake-agile-expertise/

A Certifications market that has become detrimental

– Certification-competence correlation, Martin Fowler: https://martinfowler.com/bliki/CertificationCompetenceCorrelation.html

– Scrum Alliance: Drop “Certified”, Ron Jeffries: https://ronjeffries.com/xprog/articles/scrum-alliance-drop-certified/

– Down on Scrum, Ron Jeffries: https://ronjeffries.com/articles/020-01ff/down-on-scrum/

– CSM Certification Thoughts, Ron Jeffries: https://ronjeffries.com/xprog/articles/csm-certification-thoughts/

About genuine Agile practitioners & genuine Agile consultancy firms

Typically, a genuine Agile practitioner:

  • is connected with and active in the Agile community (in the online social networks, meetups, conferences, etc.)
  • has 10+ years of experience as a practitioner (one does not become a coach or an expert without successfully delivering multiple times and excelling with those practices in a variety of different contexts)
  • has experienced good Agile multiple times in environments with high levels of Agility and is renowned for their Agile mastery
  • has contributed to the Agile community and by doing that has been vetted by peers
  • has learned good Agile close to the source of the original ideas: Ron Jeffries suggests the concept of lineage or heritage, who mentored the practitioner, who vetted their understanding, and how many hops that chain has until it reaches one of the Agile Manifesto authors. The point is to understand “where you come from” in the human and intellectual landscape, and “where you live now” in that landscape.

Typically, a genuine Agile consultancy firm:

  • adopts Agile to run their own consultancy at all levels (they do not just sell “Agile” to others)
  • adopts Agile to do what they do for their clients, and they do it well (if for example, they work in tech they should be known for their tech excellence and ability to deliver successfully)
  • has a people-first approach with their employees, their employees are empowered and trusted to make important decisions
  • with their clients uses Agile contracts that support collaboration and leave room for manoeuvre to adapt to changing circumstances and new learning
  • has many leadership members and many employees that are genuine Agile practitioners (see above)
  • is not affiliated with any particular framework or methodology or any particular certification, instead, they are innovators and adopt ideas and practices from multiple frameworks
  • publishes content, including that used for marketing, that is visible in the Agile community and that is generally accepted and respected

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