I Didn’t Say I Was a *Good* Plumber

Occasionally, I run into some online screed about the world surrounding Agile development.  Typically, it’s written by someone who has a relatively high level of experience, and decries people/organizations who are less seasoned.  Those posts really bum me out.

Some focus on the Agile-industrial complex: the slew of people selling services or tools that will help you be better at Agile development.  Okay, maybe some of that happens, but is there any part of any industry where this is anything but normal?  Does it add value to the world to scream that some profiteers have descended on Agile development like they descend on everything else?  It is about as constructive as writing that some people who work in Agile are unfriendly.  Maybe true, but not a great addition to the conversation.

Other posts question the right of newcomers to claim that they are Agile Coaches or a company following Agile principles, etc.  The title of this post responds to this one.  When I started working as an Agile Coach a few months ago, I knew I had a lot of learning to do.  Further, I knew (and know) that my only chance at success lies in striving to continue learning for as long as I do this coaching thing.  Absent a standardized ranking/accreditation system, I immediately began referring to myself an Agile Coach, because I was trying to do the job of Agile Coach.  Sure, I might have been ineffective, ignorant, etc., but I as long as I spent my day job touching pipes with a wrench in an attempt to fix the plumbing, I called myself a plumber.  Not a good plumber, maybe a disastrously bad plumber, but in any case: a plumber.  Are there limits to this thinking?  Sure, but again: what value does it add to the conversation to scream about some human being doing something extreme and ridiculous?

So I am yammering on about adding value to the conversation.  What value does this post add?  Well, here’s my shot: I ask that anyone who is frustrated–whether by some huckster saying that he can Agilitate you for $29.95 or an ignorant Agile Coach in your organization spouting sanctimoniously–to simply not post the screed.  Don’t do it.  Channel that energy elsewhere constructive.  Some ideas:

  • Find a good post on someone else’s blog, and post a comment extending the conversation.
  • Have a cup of coffee with a colleague and discuss some particular aspect of Agile and what it means to you.
  • Look around you and find some aspect of your own Agile practice that you can improve.
  • Re-read a chapter of a favorite dog-eared book about Agile.
  • Write a post honoring (anonymously or not) another individual’s positive contribution to the world of Agile.

What draws me to Agile is its simplicity and focus on eternal learning.  As with many ideas that are simple, though, it takes enormous application to even approach mastery.  Rather than making blanket statements shouting down those that are trying at this ideal–nobly or otherwise–wouldn’t we be better off encouraging earnest pursuit of these principles?

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