There is helpful and useful content out there. But finding it amongst all the dross is a massive challenge.

I despair of the boatloads of naive advice, misinformation, and just pure tosh that so-called “Agile” people spout on a daily basis. (Not limited to just “Agile” people, of course.)

Caveat lector!

And just in case you’d like a sanity check on anything suspect or dubious, I’m always happy to support your natural scepticism. Just get in touch for non-partisan help.

I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuity. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem.

R. Buckminster Fuller

Risk And Rewards

The Risk Reward Curve

The risk/reward ratio (often illustrated as a curve) marks the prospective reward an investor can earn for every dollar, pound or yen they risk on an investment. Many investors use risk/reward ratios to compare the anticipated returns from an investment with the amount of risk they must undertake to earn these returns.


Investing in Agile Software Development

Adopting an Agile development approach is a kind of investment decision, much like any other investment decision. NB. Not all the investment is financial/monetary in nature, and neither are all the anticipated returns.

Your Winning Rate

Investors have long understood the necessity of combining the risk-reward ratio with the “winning rate” to know whether a given investment decision or strategy will prove a winner.

Agile Adoptions Are Highly Risky And Offer Limited Rewards

Agile adoptions have a remarkably low “winning rate”. Something like 75-90% of all attempted Agile adoptions fail.

It sure beats me why so many decision-makers fail to investigate (and thereby, understand) the risks and winning rates of Agile adoptions. Especially as the rewards accruing from adopting an Agile software development approach are so limited (read: minimal, or negative).

Is your organisation contemplating adopting Agile? Has it done its homework?

– Bob

Quintessence – The Long Overdue Upgrade to Agile

We’ve laboured under the Agile yoke for more than twenty years now. As well as its other failings, Agile has choked off all innovation in the way software is developed.

We’re long overdue an upgrade, and yet there seems no game-changing innovations in sight. Might we conclude that decision-makers are content that current means are good enough to meet their needs? That breakthrough capabilities are of no interest? Or that no new breakthroughs are even possible?

It sure seems like it to me. And yet I continue to propose new, tried and tested, ground-breaking ideas. For those few who are not content to luxuriate in the prevailing status quo. Ideas like Flowchain, Prod•gnosis, the Antimatter Principle, Organisational Psychotherapy, and most recently, Quintessence.

Quintessence is that long overdue upgrade to Agile. Not a downgrade like, for example, the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink abortion that is SAFe.

Nor even a next-generation Agile, which will inevitably include all the shortcomings of the existing Agile approach(es).

Radical Departure

Quintessence is the radical departure from Agile norms, based as it is on people-oriented technologies such as sociology, group dynamics, psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy, anthropology, cognitive science and modern neuroscience. Technologies conspicuous by their absence from businesses everywhere.

If logic had anything to do with it, thousands of businesses would be working in the Quintessential way now. But of course logic gets nary a look-in. We human beings are creatures of habit, emotion and bias. Our inner chimps hold sway over the human part of our brain most all of the time.

I guess you’ll dismiss this post much like you’ve dimissed all my other posts on e.g. Quintessence. C’est la vie. That’s monkeys for you.

Further Reading

Peters, S. (2016). The Chimp Paradox. Vermilion, An Imprint Of Ebury Publishing.

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub).Available at: [Accessed 11 Mar. 2022].

Seeds of Failure

Agile has become widespread and popular mainly because it promises “improvements” without demanding that the decision-makers change. Of course, without people changing (in particular, managers changing their collective assumptions and beliefs) Agile has zero chance of delivering on its promises. It then becomes “just one more packaged method to install in the development teams” – and just one more debacle.

As the French say:

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”.

Thus Agile carries with it the seeds of its own inevitable failure.

“But what if managers DO change?” I hear you ask.

Well, if they change themselves in ways that move them and their organisations towards the quintessential, they won’t chose Agile.

Seeds of Success

And if you’re wondering what the seeds of success might look like, you may like to take a look at my recent book “Quintessence” (Marshall 2021).

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub).

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