Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Drive-by Dialectics

Ron Quartel, AKA @agileAgitator, came up with a nice analogy:


Here's my take:

    Scrum:Agile::Communist party:SocialDemocratic parties

The Communists perfected the concept of democratic centralism: an obvious oxymoron/contradiction that functions like a "Mystery" in a classic religion: among other things, it provides cover for autocrats. This lays the basis for what post-Stalinist Soviet leaders called a "cult of personality".  Witness Stalin, North Korea's "Dear Leader" and to a lesser extent Hugo Chavez and the Castros.

(If you think this kind of authoritarianism is incompatible with free enterprise, consider the PRC and Singapore.)

Scrum has triumphed in the corporate world because it centralizes control and information chokepoints in a "Master".  This reproduces the structure of a traditional corporation and promotes Agilewashing.

Other methodologies that essentially promote acentric/holographic democracy and the autonomy of teams are a near-impossible sell in a command-and-control world.

I have worked on four teams doing Scrum (obviously not True Scotsman Scrum - a period of dictatorship of the proletariat has to precede True Communism - substitute analogous rationalization).  One of them was run by an actual manager.  The other three were run by Certified Scrum Masters (blessed from Moscow?) who by the way were all genuinely intelligent and nice guys.

There was zero encouragement for team members to think about the process or about anything other than the microsilos (stories) they worked in - solo.

I don't doubt that these situations were more efficient/productive than classic Waterfall/Cowboy regimes.  But that's not saying much.

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