Why some people think agile is bull****

  • Agile Misconceptions |
  • Agile Skepticism |
  • Agile Challenges |
  • Resistance to change |
  • Agile Failures |
  • Agile Mindset
Why some people think agile is bull****
Thomas Biro

Thomas Biro,

agile business architect, agile coach

20 July 2023
3 minutes read

While Agile is a widely accepted and highly effective framework in many contexts, there are certainly detractors and skeptics who feel it doesn't live up to its hype. Here are some reasons why some people may perceive Agile as "bull****".

Misapplication of Agile

Agile is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and attempting to apply it to inappropriate situations can lead to failure. Some projects, especially those requiring a high degree of certainty and predictability, might not be well-suited for Agile methodologies. Misapplying Agile can lead to frustration and skepticism.

Poor Implementation

Agile requires a significant mindset shift from traditional project management methodologies. In some cases, organizations adopt Agile in name only without embracing its principles, resulting in a situation often referred to as "Agile in name only" or "Agilefall." This can create confusion and disillusionment among team members.

Changing mindsets is challenging for executives due to ingrained routines, decision-making patterns, and leadership styles that have served them well over the years. The shift from a command-and-control to a servant leadership approach, integral to Agile, can feel counterintuitive. Additionally, pressure for short-term results can deter them from investing in a mindset change, which is a long-term commitment.

Overemphasis on Processes and Tools

Some individuals may see Agile as "bullshit" due to an overemphasis on processes and tools at the expense of individuals and interactions. Despite the Agile Manifesto explicitly valuing individuals and interactions over processes and tools, some organizations fall into the trap of focusing on the ceremonies and artifacts rather than the principles and values.

Lack of Training and Understanding

Agile methods require a deep understanding of the principles and the reasons behind them. Without adequate training, team members might not fully grasp these concepts, leading to a disconnect between theory and practice and consequently causing frustration.

Unrealistic Expectations

Sometimes, Agile is presented as a silver bullet for all project management problems, which it certainly is not. When these unrealistic expectations are not met, people may feel that Agile is ineffective or "bullshit."

Resistance to Change

Agile often requires dramatic changes in how teams operate and how work is managed. This shift can be challenging and uncomfortable, and people who are resistant to change might therefore dismiss Agile.

Misinterpretation of Agile Freedom

Agile provides teams with more flexibility and autonomy compared to traditional methodologies, but it doesn't mean there's no discipline or structure involved. Some people might perceive this freedom as chaos and consider Agile as being ineffective.

Remember, Agile is a tool and like all tools, it works best when used correctly, in the right context, and with an understanding of its underlying principles.

Thomas Biro

co-founder & chairmain

agile business architect, agile coach


Thomas Biro
Co-founder of Sense/Net & Barion, author of Digital Readiness Framework. Tom graduated in engineering from Nottingham Trent University. Since the advent of the Internet, he has been involved in digitalization, initially focusing on the technical, and later on the human aspects. Tom is an M-shaped talent, with extensive knowledge in IT, entrepreneurship, and agile. He likes to promote provocative ideas. In his view, only free, critical, and scientific thinking will move humanity forward. He believes that the essence of agility is the agile mindset, which he puts great emphasis on teaching.

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