The #waterfall – #agile controversy

Something has happened in my time-lines on twitter and linkedin. I’m not sure how to make sense of it, but I think it is a remarkable phenomenon. I follow a lot of thought leaders in both the agile and the project management world. The tone of the responses made by those in the project management community are becoming more and more hostile towards the agile way of working. Most of the comments are focussed on waterfall versus short iterations with potential shippable products and, of course the conclusion, that some things can’tbe done in such a short time-frame.

I can understand that prophecies from the agile world about many project managers that will loose their jobs are not pleasant to hear, and are threatening when you have build your professional identity around one single profession. But still the tone of voice is disturbing because it closes the dialogue. One that could lead you to a much deeper understanding of both worlds. Now let me clarify something about the agile mindset, because it is much more that abandoning waterfall. It is about:

  • Learning
  • Self-steering
  • Purpose
  • People
  • etc… 

It is an evolutionary change in the way we look at organizations. It builds on the insights of the past century and scientific research in management theories (that mostly fail to have any predictive value). It is not about finding the best-practice or about expressing your opinion. It is about servant leadership, it is about less management, it is about purpose and happiness at work. Agile is a symptom, something that many of the agilists don’teven understand, of a deeper movement that is taking place withing the working force around the globe. Recently a survey was published that revealed that a vast majority of workers are disengaged from their work (on the way of becoming demotivated). This needs to stop and it will stop, agile is just a sign of coming change.

So why object, so why make a fool of it. It addresses many tensions that current management practice has not been able to solve, so why? My choice is to embrace it fully. I’ve done it and let me tell you it is recommendable.