We must kill agile.  

In its current state, we’re doing more harm than good. For some, Agile has helped their development organization. I’ve seen firsthand how some companies have used it well. Teams have more consistent output and make better stuff. They love doing it too. It greases the tracks for autonomy, empathy and fun. 

But mixed results are becoming status quo. It will only get worse with the rapid minting of certified professionals. 

One of the biggest problems is the risk aversion that goes with big outcomes. Nobody wants to be the person who sinks the boat. Too many Agile team members backslide into extensive business plans and document approvals. This regression keeps them from hitting ambitious business goals. 

Let’s take what we’ve learned, the good and the bad, and kill this thing. Let’s create something else. Let’s call it something else. Let’s admit that Agile didn’t belong in large organizations. We don’t need to spread it to every single individual. Let’s find a different way to localize the infection of a promising idea. Let’s recruit stakeholders and the team players who want to build greatness. Those who are comfortable with the way we’ve always done things still play their part. 

Whatever we do, it is wise to let the leaves fall from the trees and follow their natural order. It is unhealthy – inorganic – to force artificial results. Look what happens when we try to keep our species alive much longer than designed. A host of new problems arise in response. The organism will always look to right itself. It looks to restore balance. We are plagued with a lengthy list of illnesses and sensitivities. The same thing happens when we try to make food or plants last longer on the shelf. Novel chemicals promise a short-term solution. But the long-term impact is often unknown, and usually undesirable. Like Brundle-fly undesirable. 

So it is with Bad Agile. It’s time to let go.  

And if we don’t? Those at the forefront of Big Corporate Agile become the thought leaders of the future. They become the guardians of the process. They teach others how to do what they do. Not to do what is best for us.  

In rebirth must come a champion. We should reset the vision. We should reset the tools. We should reset the practices. We should reset the use cases. Let it all burn down and start over. Bringing with us only the knowledge of what worked and what didn’t. Remember that part of what didn’t work was our eagerness to apply this in places where it was never meant to thrive. No-one envisioned doing this at scale in an organization of 100,000 people or more.  

Can we be honest enough and courageous enough to let the old things die? Or will we cling to our sense of weakness, to our ego? The would be toxic. We’d end up building a replica of what we built before.  

And that’s the problem. Humans can only see what we have already seen. We struggle with the blank page.  

The unknown is where innovation lives. It requires creativity and boldness.  

It requires us to burn it down and start again. Like a forest fire. If it works in nature, it can work for us. 

So how do we start? Beginning in your team room. Experiment ruthlessly. Steel yourself to let go of everything that isn’t working. Stand-ups, Scrum Masters, Kanban boards. If letting it all go serves the outcome, then be ready to let it go.  

Document what you learn. Think about where this could be best deployed and repeated. Think about where it can’t.  

The only thing that stays is the guiding principles. Even then, could refresh those too. We’re due for another sit down in a ski chalet. But if you’re going to play a part, you must act, rather than waiting for others to lead the charge. Because if the wrong people get hold of it, we’ll have a repeat of the last 20 years.