Agile software development is becoming more disciplined but that has not prevented heated debate from springing up again. Our April 2014 issue had an article on Earned Value Management (EMV) in which  strong words were traded between Agile and traditional industry experts, e,g.

“Artificial measures such as EVM typically prove to be overhead at best, whose only value is to cater to the dysfunctional bureaucrats infesting many organizations.”  Scott W.  Ambler


“Scott makes several fundamental errors in [his] discussion.  … [You should] ignore arguments against EV[M] from those [who have] not … deployed it successfully.” Glen B. Alleman.

Since then, there has been progress towards the Disciplined Agile Enterprise and Scott gave a presentation on this at the OOP Software Engineering & Management Conference in Munich, January 2015 . InfoQ was covering the Conference with live news write-ups and Q&As, which included a Q&A on the Disciplined Agile Enterprise with Scott. Questions covered “the reasons why agile projects are failing, how to increase budgets for building new systems, disciplined DevOps, harmonizing agile and lean, and on coaching for enterprise agility.”

In the Q&A, Scott identifies a number of reasons why organizations will fail with agile, including the wrong approach Scrum.  He notes that “in practice Scrum proves to be a very small part of the overall strategy.”  Scott’s final advice to enterprises looking to increase their agility is:

“Best advice that I can give is to stop looking for easy answers. Software development is hard and IT is even harder. Agile IT enables the agile enterprise, and moving to an agile IT strategy will take many years of hard work. Our Agility at Scale provides a pretty good overview of what organizations are looking at.”

Scott’s comments on Scrum shed some light on the reasons for recent heated debate about Agile practices. Examples of the debate include:

  • Michael O. Church’s June 6, 2015 strongly worded post Why “Agile” and especially Scrum are terrible“It’s probably not a secret that I dislike the “Agile” fad that has infested programming. One of the worst varieties of it, Scrum, is a nightmare that I’ve seen actually kill companies.”

and the June 7, 2015 follow-up Software’s management problem, “the more central topic is the fact of an industry that has become really bad at management. “User stories” are a symptom, but the root problem is much deeper.”

  • Simon Wardley’s June 20, 2015 post Why Agile, Lean and Six Sigma must die …Simon uses evolving maps of user needs to show the areas where different techniques and methods are stronger, including Agile, Lean and Six Sigma. He notes “Of course, most companies have no map of their environment and so are forced to plummet for a one size fits all method e.g. all agile, all lean, all six sigma.”  He concludes “Personally, I’d learn to map and use all the methods. Personally, I think the idea of being ALL agile, ALL lean or ALL six sigma should die.”
  • Bertrand Meyer’s  new book “Agile: The Good, The Hype, and the Ugly”. Bertrand asks: “Are you attracted by the promises of agile methods but put off by the fanaticism of many agile texts? Would you like to know which agile techniques work, which ones do not matter much, and which ones will harm your projects? Then you need Agile!: the first exhaustive, objective review of agile principles, techniques and tools.”

Where the debaters share some common ground is the need for better top level management. This topic also features in the article Dangerous Anti-patterns in this issue and in The Bimodal IT Debate Heats Up in our April issue.