Friday, May 18, 2012
Agile Does Not Mean Being Micromanaged
Today I joined some friends (ex-coworkers) in a goodbye party for an ex-coworker who is moving on to greener pastures. I haven't seen several of these people in a few years, so naturally they asked "What are you doing now?" And I told them that I am an agile coach. And I got asked "And you haven't killed yourself yet?"
Clearly, something is wrong here.
A little background: the company I used to work for was acquired and 'Agile' was imposed upon my old friends. This is an 'Agile' which may be far too familiar to some of you, but I've only heard stories of it before. At the party, two separate people told me they thought 'Agile' was intended to turn programmers into replaceable sprockets who need not think. For example, if they come across a bug in the system, they are supposed to create a defect in the tracking system and move on. Someone will add it to a sprint sometime. Or not. All decisions are made by project managers, and handed down.
The Agile Manifesto and the Agile Principles are a good place to start to validate whether an organization is acting in an agile way. "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools" from the manifesto, and "Build projects around motivated individuals" from the principles both give us an indication of the role of management in these environments: contribute, don't control.