Beneath the Agile Mirage: Unmasking the Lipstick-Smeared Swindle of Modern Software Development!

💡 Prepare to embark on a thrilling exposé, where we unravel the tangled web of Agile’s alluring illusion, and reveal the startling truth lurking beneath its glossy veneer – a revelation that will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about software development!

➡ You know, there’s an old saying that goes, “You can put lipstick on a pig and call it Agile, but it’s a waste of your time and annoys the pig.” It’s such an apt description of the Agile approach to software development, don’t you think? I mean, people talk about how Agile is the be-all and end-all solution to software development woes, but in reality, it’s just one big lipstick-covered pig.

Even when organisations follow Agile to the letter, it never seems to work out as expected. The whole system is supposed to be about flexibility and adaptability, but so often it just ends up being a convoluted mess. Sure, you have all these meetings, sprints, and stand-ups that give the appearance of progress, but it’s really just a bunch of people running in circles.

And let’s not even get started on the endless stream of buzzwords and jargon that’s constantly thrown around in Agile environments. It’s like some twisted game of corporate Mad Libs that doesn’t actually result in any tangible improvements.

So yeah, you can slap a coat of Agile lipstick on your development pig, but don’t be surprised when it doesn’t magically transform into a streamlined, efficient machine. More often than not, you’ll just end up with a frustrated pig and a whole lot of wasted time.

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

If Putin Ran A Software Development Business

Or a tech business in which software development was a core capability – much like military forces are a core capability for any nation, including Russia.

If Putin ran a business where software development was a core capability, he’d:

  • Ask for estimates and rail against his project managers and middle-managers when those estimates proved unreliable.
  • Wonder why new features were stuck in a long queue of undelivered features.
  • Not notice that developers were so demoralised that they were just going through the motions, not caring a hoot about requirements or deliverables or even customers’ need.
  • Ask regularly and bitterly “why can’t they (developers) just do as they’re told?”.
  • Have little clue about the state of his tools and hardware, the skills – or lack of them – of his developers.
  • Apply huge resources to bludgeon through problems and delays, only to find that doesn’t work.
  • Discount the importance of morale and motivation in his employees.
  • Be secretly embarrassed about the quality and accuracy of his employees’ work.
  • Not understand the importance of learning, skills development, training and senior staff.
  • Underestimate the difficulties inherent in all software development endeavours.
  • Blame competitors and market conditions for his people’s failures.
  • Belatedly hire external contractors in the naïve and forlorn hope that they might accelerate progress.

Maybe you know of some other CEOs that make the same choices?

Yayy for Ukraine! Ukraine-Flag-PNG-File

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R. W. (2013). Product Aikido. [online] Available at:

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 choose 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).

The Great Hiring Debacle Continues

The debacle of hiring (cf. external hires) continues unabated. In my experience, it’s getting worse by the day. And I see every hirer totally oblivious to the data. Here’s a couple of charts:

HiringDebacleDoubleAnd some data from various sources:

New Hire Failure Rates (By Job Level)

Overall failure rate – What percentage of all new hires fail within eighteen months? “46%” (Source: Leadership IQ)

Hourly new hires – What percentage of all hourly employees quit or are fired within their first six months? “50%” (Source: Humetrics)

Managment new hires– What percentage of management new hires fail within eighteen months? “Between 40% and 60%” (Source: Harvard Business Review)

High managerial talent – What percentage miss the mark on high managerial talent? “In 82% of their hiring decisions” (Source: Gallup)

Executive new hires – What percentage of executive new hires fail within eighteen months? “Nearly 50%” (Source: The Corporate Leadership Council)

CEO failure – What percentage of new CEOs fail outright within their first eighteen months? “Nearly 40%” (Source: Centre For Creative Leadership)

Unequivocal success –  What percentage of new hires can be declared as an unequivocal success? “19%” or 1 in 5 (Source: Centre from Creative Leadership

(Table courtesy of Dr John Sullivan)

And you think you’re so smart?

– Bob

Further Reading

Griffiths, A. (2022.). What You Need to Know About Unsuccessful Recruitment and Ways to Improve Your Hiring Success Rate – Hirenest. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2022].

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