Isn’t It Ironic?

There are many agile conferences these days. Many of them are not about what we used to call “agile” anymore. In fact, a friend pointed out when I mentioned a TDD session from an agile conference, saying: Really? An agile presentation with code?

Most of the topics today are moving towards lean, kanban, leadership and organizational transformation. It seems we are no longer satisfied with just transforming software departments around, we’re ready to take on whole organizations.

It happened so fast

Two major things have happened during the recent years. As scrum helped agile cross the chasm, it became the darling of the business world. The magic of scrum is in what it leaves behind – since it’s technically neutral, it’s easy to sell to managers. Without TDD or pair programming, business people are drawn to its process-based methodology.

And where there’s demand there would be supply – as more business people flocked to agile conferences, the topics shifted from software to organizational ones. You’d probably expect some resistance, right? Not quite.

It’s funny: Once we said software is completely different than anything else, and now we’re ready to apply it to everything!

And so, business people and agile people build symbiotic life together, riding together towards the sunset.

Hey, remember software?

In a twit-chat a few weeks ago, Ulrika Park said: stop talking about agile testing, agile development – instead talk about testing and development. The word “agile” is overused, and many times abused. This happens a lot in pop culture.  Yes, as it matured, “agile” now goes even with marketing. Is agile cooking next?

We’ve lost our creation, and others have taken control.

Not many agile conferences sessions left for developers. We all know about TDD, and there’s no reason to talk about pair programming any more. All the XP practices have already been discussed, and have become boring. Like, simple design, dude? What’s so interesting about that?

One territory is still left for ex-XPers – craftsmanship groups and code retreats. The rest of the development conferences present more new technologies, rather than old practices.

I’m not bitter (much). Frankly, these days I find lean and system thinking more interesting than “boring” code reviews. I also understand that success sometimes finds different directions than how you envisioned it. 

I do feel that it happened too fast, though. Few developers had time to really master the software practices. Craftsmen are still a very small group. The people entering the software profession today will have to learn the art by scavenging for books and videos, and maybe reinvent stuff that’s already out there (There’s an Israeli alt.net un-conference happening soon – the organizer thought it’s the first of its kind in Israel, while we already had four). The conferences were the way to share how software development is and should be  – now they are going away.

To use a lean term – what a waste.

Also there’s a lot of irony here.

We’re leaving behind the things that take time to master (but are the key to success), only to run after the next new thing.

It’s what we used to do as we started programming, remember?

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