Real-World – Trending ALERT!

Real-World – Trending ALERT!

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Coming to you from MARS…

Everyone please. Hold onto your seats and possibly grab a relaxing drink. I have some grave news for you. And please, please sit down.

Ok, I’ve noticed a significant trend in my training sessions, coaching, and conference conversations. The frequency of:

“But Bob, in the real world…”

Is increasing and not slightly, but significantly. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe that many folks still view the agile methods as:

  • A bleeding edge idea;
  • something that can’t be used for hardware projects; or technology integration projects;
  • a fantasy or a fad;
  • something for other companies to try, but not their organization;
  • an experiment run amuck;
  • only for “web-based” software;
  • something that can’t handle the complexity of their products or technology;
  • too risky of a change;
  • something leveraged more on the planet Mars;
  • not being able to work in regulated environments;
  • something that fosters hacking and cowboy coding;
  • etc.

My question for you all is – how do I / we reverse or “heaven forbid” stop this trend?

I’m literally at a loss for the words. I try to tell stories about real-world agility at every opportunity. I share lessons, results, domains and environments where agility is working relatively well and resulting in software that drives value.

I talk about the historical runway of agility. How Scrum was first leveraged in 1993-1994, how XP has been around since 1999, and how they methods have had plenty of time to mature and grow.

And I always, always tell the truth. I’m not making the examples up and I try very hard to be even-handed in sharing the challenges and failures along with the successes and results.

I often feel like I’m trying to SELL agile. Like I’m a snake oil salesman and I’ve got a magical elixir to offer that, upon a single drink, will solve all of your software ills. I truly don’t sell agility, but try and let the results and clients’ experiences “speak for themselves”. But the posture of many who say:

“But Bob, in the real world…”

is that I need to convince them, sell them, provide overwhelming evidence that agile approaches work. And here’s the kicker. That they work BETTER than what’s the organizational is currently doing.

Another part of this trend is a common state of denial that they have any challenges with delivering software successfully now. None. Life is perfect. And why change something that isn’t broken. Why improve?

My usual reaction to that is: “You’re RIGHT. If you are in a state where you are perfectly happy with your software delivery – planning & forecasting, delivery, quality, team health, customer satisfaction, innovation, stakeholder engagement, work-life balance, ROI generation, etc.

That is – IF everything is going relatively well, THEN you probably don’t want to move towards agile methods. But when I couch it this way…it seems that many chime in and tell me that everything isn’t working all that great, that ultimately they might need to improve.  But the way they’ve always done it.

I know, I know, this was a bit of a venting session or rant. Ok. But in all seriousness, this trend is increasing and I’m looking for your help. How DO we engage organizations and teams who view agile approaches as foreign ideas and put up this wall of Real World resistance?

I’m looking for approaches you’ve leveraged successfully. Or even share things that haven’t worked for you – so we can all learn from those failures. I’m open to anything right now to help me turnaround this nasty trend.

In other words:

“Help me to enter the real world…”

Stay agile my friends,


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