Friday, February 02, 2007

Connecting blogs: Failure, Agile failure and bad companies

I ended my last blog entry - the one on Low Level Failure - promising to make a connection to the blog entry before that - the one suggesting we might be about to see the end of Agile software development as we know it.


Well there is a connection in my mind but it is somewhat hazy, I have to do some hand waving for it to make sense.  This is a clear sign that I don’t have a clear idea of what the connection is. So trying to explain it in a third blog entry is difficult. Consequently I feel I owe an explanation - a connection - but I’m finding it hard to do and its blocking thinking on other subjects.


If anything this will teach me not to give hostages to future blog entries. But here goes with the connection... please forgive me if I’m vague!


Really there are two levels. First about business as usual, both blog entries describe things that many working people - particularly those who read Dilbert - would consider perfectly normal and just routine business. Maybe we should call it the madness of companies. It is the madness that says: don’t rock the boat, don’t try and be different, don’t try to innovate.


This is a kind of despair: why do we have to settle with this poor situation? why can’t the world be better?


Maybe I’m just an idealist but it drives me to do better.


The second connection about the two blog entries and all the stories in them is that they are about dis-empowering people. They are all stories of how people were helpless inside some corporation - some mad corporation at that.


In all these stories the main characters are powerless. Whether it is the team leader who isn’t allowed to talk to customers, the developer left without a machine or a demand to follow some governance regulations, all these people are powerless. In these stories the main character can’t do anything.


Again maybe its me: why is it wrong to want to do better?


So in all these cases the stories are kind of depressing. They are stories of failure which could get us down, switch us off, drive us to drink. But they are also stories of opportunities. Stories of how things could be better. For those companies that kind overcome these problems a bight future exists simply because most can’t.


Now I write this down I understand my own reasoning so much better. I also see that I have connected not just the last two blog entries but one from November too!