Agile frameworks are products; why are Agile peddlers so acrimonious?

Agile frameworks are products; why are Agile peddlers so acrimonious?

20 March, 2023 3 min read
agile, hype, organizations, consulting, critical thinking

So much acrimony between proponents of Agile This or Agile That in the battle for mindshare and market share!

I can see the merit of the argument that the popularity of a framework implies value for its customers. A commercial framework is a product, after all. It’s developed, marketed, and sold based on certain promises (hopes) that tickle the fancy of certain customer segments.

With a more critical mind, however, I remind myself that, as a product, a framework (e.g., SAFe) is marketed with the same tactics used for any product.

Tautologically, products with large market share are offered by incumbents. Therefore, much like in my Allegory of the Cave analogy, incumbents (in this example, those selling SAFe) utilize their market position as a circular argument for strengthening it, as well as other tricks to bring you and hold you prisoner in their allegorical Cave.

A product leading the market doesn’t automagically result from delivering what it promises to everyone who purchases it.

As market share grows, purchasing decisions are increasingly driven by factors such as irrational copycat behavior or rationalizations that play right into the hands of the incumbent.

You and I and many others have seen it in across organizations small and large alike:

  1. there is indeed such a thing as organizations jumping on the latest bandwagon,… (→ FOMO, monkey-see-monkey-do)

  2. …which promises to change everything without actually changing anything of importance to the outcome, … (→ wishful thinking, complacency)

  3. while also enabling them to claim a successful “transformation”, … (→ prestige-focused branding and PR, self-aggrandization)

  4. …and fill CVs with certifications, while playing house wrapped in the garb of fancy job titles. (→ belt/certification mills, resume-driven development, job title inflation, mercenarial rewarding, bullshit jobs)

Such effects (in parentheses) underlie popularity rankings and the periodic rise and fall of “miracle cures”.

Call it “Deft” ( , call it “X”, call it whatever.

Whatever you call it: X comes and goes.

X is a stand-in moniker for technology, thus X evolves. X will always change as we learn more.

It is not a bad thing that X has been: TPS, Lean, Business Process Reengineering, Balanced Scorecard, Stage Gate, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, NPS, Agile, Design Thinking, and in more recent years SAFe, DevOps, MLops, digital, sustainability, ESG, Generative AI, etc. etc.

It is a bad thing that many who promote the X-du-jour as the end-all-be-all answer to business questions have such a difficulty accepting the considerations above.

X will come, and X will go.

What will you get out of X?

And will you get more out of X than those who peddle it?