Would you like a recipe for a giant flop-cake? A big old disaster? To learn from the Masters, all you have to do is look at what we did with a simple idea.  

Agile was pure potential. A great idea that helped us do important things better.  

The idea arose, I’m led to understand, from a simple question. “Could there be a better way?” When you ask that question, you’re inviting any answer. You not attached to any particular vision of the future. Rather you’re driven by a desire to improve what we do and how we do it. Sometimes, how to do things better is not a function of any process, but a set of ideas. That’s what Agile was all about. At least in the early days.  

Don’t Let Your Cake Set 

“Could there be a better way?” is a great question to ask, but you have to ask it often. Not once every two decades. Once your cake starts to set, you risk creating something as rigid as the world you were trying to leave.  

A great recipe can be a re-imagination of traditional tips and tricks. Notions handed down from previous generations. Secrets passed along inside and outside of the culture. Little embellishments, developed over time, improving on the way we’ve done things before. Sometimes, the technology gets better. Sometimes our knowledge of natural science widens our perspectives.  

Failed Product – The Great Teacher 

And sometimes we have to learn by looking at the recipe when it flops. When we take a good look at what we’ve become, we recognize that we may not be better… just further along.  

What’s the best warning that we’re going in the wrong direction?  

A failed product.   

An outcome that’s inedible.  

That’s what current agile tends to be. A mishmash of the overcooked and the undercooked. Sometimes we have whisked together things that don’t belong together. We’ve created something that tastes awful. It might even make you sick.  

Let’s have a look at our recipe. How do we do Agile? When you study from a distance, it’s almost comical.  

The Recipe for Failure 


-Starter dough – a great idea, rooted in service and self-improvement  

-half a pound of attachment to certainty  

-Three tablespoons of Project Management ideals and rituals. (If you are unable to source any, consult your nearest bank).  

-Reintroduce safeguards: use just a pinch of signatures if documentation is unclear.  

-Add 1/4 cup of closed-mindedness 

-Add an equal measure of inability to weather the storm of new and revolutionary ideas  

-Sugar. Lots of sugar. When you think you’ve had enough, add more. The masses love their opiates; give them plenty of it. Internet memes, syrupy sayings, silly distinctions that distract you from the real goal of delivering stuff. Rules, processes, and tools are equally sweet. 

-If your starter dough seems light on complexity, be sure to add some. 


  1. Place the starter dough -the great idea – in a bowl in a room-temperature setting. Let the mixture sit for a while until you can’t stand it anymore. Feel the desire to ruin it rise to the top of your throat. Now begin messing things up. 
  1. First, add the insecurity, self-doubt, and need for certainty. Otherwise, the starter dough/great idea will keep growing uninhibited.  
  1. Now add in the different corporate traditions to ensure that the great idea is no longer active. 
  1. Let the mixture sit and begin to harden. You’re looking for rigidity here. Something that doesn’t give when pressed. If, when pushed with your thumb, it dents and springs back, you’ve done it wrong.  

Most important is your dogged insistence that this is the only way to create the dish, and no other ideas will do. In the event of tampering with or improving this recipe, immediately begin a holy war.  

IMPORTANT: Only do things written this recipe, and never do things that are not. In the event of an emergency, consult some expert on YouTube. 

Cooking instructions:  

  1. Continue to bake at low temperature for about 20 years. Every now and again, open the oven. Notice how inflexible, rock-hard, and idiotic your cake has become.  
  1. Once completed, remove from the oven, and set it on the table to cool. Do not attempt to slice into pieces. It will not work. Simply serve your friends and encourage them to swallow it whole. Notice who partakes fully and without questioning. (These are the people that you need to watch out for. Do not invite them to be part of your team)