10 Things I Hate About Agile Development!

10 things I hate about agile development.Agile development. Love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that it’s here to stay. I’ve enjoyed a great deal of success thanks to agile software development and agile project management methods, but here are 10 things I hate about Agile!

1. Saying you’re doing Agile just cos you’re doing daily stand-ups. You’re not doing agile. There is so much more to agile practices than this! Yet I’m surprised how often I’ve heard that story. It really is remarkable.

2. Worrying about the difference between ‘Agile’ (big A) and ‘agile’ (small a). You mean you spell it with a big A, omg you’re so not cool! The differentiation is between Agile methods and being ‘agile’, in the true sense of the word. Most people probably don’t get the subtlety. When people split hairs about this it gets on my nerves and makes so-called agilists sound like a bunch of overly-religious nerds.

3. Thinking that agile is a silver bullet and will solve all your problems. That’s so naiive, of course it won’t! Humans and software are a complex mix with any methodology, let alone with an added dose of organisational complexity. Agile development will probably help with many things, but it still requires a great deal of skill and there is no magic button.

4. Claiming to be Agile when you’re clearly not ‘agile’. Yes, we’re doing all the major agile practices, but we’re not flexible and we don’t seem to understand the underlying agile principles. Were agile in practice but don’t demonstrate the values of openness, attention to quality, collaboration, team spirit, etc.

5. People who are anti-agile but with nothing constructive to say about why. I hate that. I’ve had a few turn up here and enlighten us all with their intellectual comments, such as ‘snake oil’ or ‘agile is a hoax’. Losers!

6. Blaming agile – “I tried it once and didn’t like it”. Projects are difficult. Some projects may even fail, even if you are using agile project management methods. As I said earlier, agile is not a silver bullet. It’s important not to blame agile when things go wrong, just as it’s important not to claim it’s the saviour for all of your ills. Don’t blame the process. It’s a bit like bad workmen blaming their tools. It’s not big and it’s not clever!

7. Using agile as an excuse – “no we can’t do that, cos it’s not Agile”. “No I’m sorry, we don’t do it that way here’. Following the agile process without fail regardless of the circumstances – even if it’s contrary to what the situation really requires for the business or for the customer. If the process is the most important thing, above all else, that’s not agile!

8. People who think they’re smart enough to adapt agile processes before they’ve really got enough experience to understand how and *why* it works. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but one that should be resisted. Otherwise it’s so easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater!

9. People who use agile as an excuse for having no process or producing no documentation. If documents are required or useful, there’s no reason why an agile development team shouldn’t produce them. Just not all up-front; do it as required to support each feature or iteration. JFDI (Just F’ing Do It) is not agile!

10. People who know more about agile development than me. They’re so smug ;-)

Ah, that’s better! I feel much better now I’ve got that off my chest.

Thank you for listening!


P.S. – one more thing! I hate people who rant about agile development on agile blogs. That’s just silly.

Picture by beneneuman

16 Responses to “10 Things I Hate About Agile Development!”

  1. martin - www.agilethoughts.dk says:

    True and funny at the same time.. can't ask much more – nice work!


  2. Anonymous says:

    Funny. Are those 10 things about Agile or people? The title and the content is so not in sync.

  3. abby, the hacker chick blog says:

    Amen to this! Great post, so so true.

  4. David says:

    So agree on number 1. Following "Certified" Scrum Master training (prior to the exam requirement), a manager I know now calls every regular status meeting a "scrum", regardless of project or methodology. Somehow the team is more agile as a result.

    Ironically he pulled up another staff member for "incorrectly" using the term retrospective.

  5. Andy Till says:

    I can think of far worse, how about pairing with the guy in the office who is incapable of compromise?

  6. Douwe Pieter says:

    Haha, thanks Kelly, love it.

    All ten things you mention are common mistakes about agile development. And yes, it is a mindset, not just another method…


    Douwe Pieter

  7. Robert Dempsey says:

    Sounds like the hate is more for those that are mistaken about what Agile is and what it can do for them.

  8. Rob Young says:

    Great list, thanks. I'm not sure I completely agree with point 6 though. Agile's not a silver bullet, but neither is it infallible. To blithely avoid laying blame on the process can lead to problems. A bad workman may blame his tools, but a broken hammer is still a broken hammer no matter how good the workman.

  9. hammingweight says:

    Point 7 seems to me to be the difference between "agile" (small 'a') and "Agile" (big 'A').

    Yes, I did read point 2 and saw that Kelly hates this distinction.

  10. Michael Taylor says:

    Really very true. We have a very long way to go and a lot of cultural change to go through before our firm is an agile development environment. That said, people do think we are agile simply because it's been discussed and the principles are widely accepted as a good idea! (and, yes, we've started having daily stand ups! – but you have to start somewhere right?!).
    Our biggest barrier is changing mind sets from 'this is my project' to a team collaborative mentality and, beyond that, bringing our stakeholders into that environment.

  11. Ken Corless says:

    I am an old school IT guy who has been excited by many of the concepts in agile. I'm still learning, but posted some of my thoughts on 10 Things I Think I Think About…Agile on my blog.

  12. Marko Pyhajarvi says:

    Yeah, I agree. Funny to read, but seriously these much the same things I hate about Agile, even though I'm a huge fan of agile development..

    I hate it when management says "we are doing it agile" while they still are requiring huge up-font planning, frozen requirements, sign-off sessions, "gruppenführers" setting roles & responsibilities, etc..

    And sometimes when I talk about the collective responsibility of a Scrum team some managers start looking out the window..

    Good list, Kelly!

  13. Steve Watson says:


    Good list!

    I like number 9 as I find with testing people think that they no longer need to write proper test cases and scripts – a list of confirmations on a user story will do. Well, if its a simple change I guess you can dispense with test scripts, but if its something more complex then there is no reason NOT to write scripts. If you have a reasonably large team of people who could execute the tests, they can follow the test steps and validate against the expected results. It also means that you can sensibly lump together test cases and cover them with one test.
    If you dont think about how you will execute them and just tackle them one by one off the confirmations list, you miss the opportunity to run one test and cover many separate cases, saving time.
    I always find test scripts useful if someone different re-runs a test, as they then follow the same process as before. This is why we automate regression so the tests are executed the same each time.

  14. Earl Purple says:

    I'd just say it's another "right toy" to have played with which seems to have taken the place of ability.

    "Sorry, not on your CV, can't work here…"

  15. John Quincy says:

    I am not a fan of agile. Unless you have a small group of developers who are in perfect sync with each other at all times, this “one size fits all” methodology is destructive and downright dangerous. I have personally witnessed a very good company go out of business this year because they transformed their development shop from a home-grown iterative methodology to SCRUM. The team was required to abide by the SCRUM rules 100%. They could not keep up with customer requirements and produced bug filled releases that were always late. These developers went from fun, friendly, happy people (pre-SCRUM) [who NEVER missed a date] to bitter, sarcastic, hard to be around ‘employees’. When the writing was on the wall a couple of months back, the good ones got the hell out of there, and the company could not recover.

    Some day, I’m convinced that Beck through Thomas will proclaim that the Agile Manifesto was all a big practical joke that got out of control.

    This video pretty much lays out the one and only reason why management wants to implement Agile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvks70PD0Rs


  16. grumpasaurus says:

    It’s a cycle of violence when a project claims to be Agile just because of standups and iterations and don’t think about resolving the core challenges they’ve had to begin with. People are left still battling said challenges and then say that Agile sucks.

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