Does anybody remember laughter?

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Does anybody remember laughter?

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I’m wondering if the #1 metric for agile teams (individuals, groups, organizations) is joy? Or to quote Robert Plant – Does anybody remember laughter?

I’ve often reminisced in my classes that I started developing software for the sheer joy of it. I had fun doing it. It was creative. It was something I could do alone and within teams. It was something that created something useful for a customer/requester and I could deliver it to them and see how it delivered value. It brought me joy.

Then somewhere along my journey, the bean counters took over. As did the project managers. The folks who micromanaged me, putting more stock in estimates than the work itself. Folks who, in many cases, didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. They started pushing me for artificial dates and telling me the wrong thing to build. They didn’t listen to me or treat me like I was a partner. I became a software developing cog in their machine.

Then, I lost my joy.

Developing software became a job, a chore, and joyless. I lost the excitement and fun.

Then in the mid-1990’s, I discovered agile. The manifesto, Extreme Programming, the agile mindset, and a new, more inclusive way to create teams that delivered valuable software. And something magical happened.

I got my joy back. Building software became fun again. Was it challenging, and hard, and sometimes aggravating? Yes. But my overall feeling was again one of joy.

That agile was the best way to build software. And, just as I was feeling good again, then it happened…

Again, I lost my joy.

Lately agile isn’t fun anymore! It’s lost its joy.

One reason for that is the Agile Industrial Complex that is selling:

  • Certifications,

  • Training,

  • Coaching,

  • Frameworks,

  • And Bears…Oh My!

For huge sums of money. It appears that they’ve lost their way and that the dollars are driving much of what they do. Instead of leading with agile basics and principles – both personal and agile. 

There is so much failure in the world around agility. Given the money to be made, charlatans are popping up everywhere. They claim to be experienced, but they’re not. They claim to deliver a magical performance result. They can’t. And client success suffers as a result.

In particular, the scaling frameworks drive me crazy. Everyone seems to want a Silver Bullet solution for scaling with SAFe leading the way. Here are my final thoughts on that.

And the bean counters seem to be taking over agile. Along with managers, the Agile PMO, project managers, and everyone else who is trying to take away the spirit of the agile team.

Several others have written about the Agile Industrial Complex and warned against its joylessness –

But I’m hopeful.

I’m hopeful that there are initiatives afoot that will bring about another era of agile in practice. One that gets back to the roots of the thing. A back to basics if you will. And, one that reemerges the joyfulness.

I’m looking for my joy and I’m hopeful that I will find it again. And does anyone remember laughter?

Stay agile my friends,


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