In this article we will examine whether XP/Scrum is consistent with the Agile Manfiesto and also look at whether Agile processes depersonalize and disempower the individual, making them mere tools of the collective State.
The first stanza of the second chapter of the “Agile Manifesto” (Ch.2 V.1) states that they value:
“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”
But is that really true?
Let us consider a team of around 7 developers, some of whom are senior, some junior, some who are pro XP, some anti XP, some pro pair programming, some anti; all of them enjoy programming in a way that maximizes their “flow”, but like any creative process, some members are more productive in an office, some at home, some at late hours, some in cubicles.
All of the team members are valuable and they all get along well so far.
Now, let us consider that the manager decides to implement Scrum/XP.
Scrum/XP requires everyone to be onsite at the same time, to pair program, to have “collective ownership” of all code and all successes the team has, etc, etc.
Now, some of the team members are not in favor of these restrictions and threaten to leave the project if XP/Agile is imposed on them.
Does the Manager: A) Respect the individuals and abandon XP in favor of keeping their team and all of it’s individuals that they value and trust or
B) Fire the XP holdouts and attempt to hire replacements for the ones who were frog marched?
I would suspect that most XP advocates would say to to do B; but that is directly putting the Process (XP) ABOVE the Individual, something that violates the Agile Manifesto.
(BTW A is the only correct answer that respects the Agile Manifesto, and the Individual, so I hope all real life Managers would choose A and not let the Zealots get the best of them).
So what do they really value, the process, or the individual? So far it appears to be the process; let’s delve deeper.
Just when you thought Communes and Communism was dead, along with the collective farms and the Company song, XP is here to tell the proletariat how to live every minute of their lives.
For starters, there is “collective ownership” of code. No longer does an individual control a class or module, all of the code is collectively owned, just like a collective farm in Stalins Russia. There is no individual property or module ownership.
Since there is no individual property, there is no right to privacy; anyone can modify “your” code any time, with or without “your” approval.
How many DBA’s or HTML designers would want random team members modifying “their” database structure or stylesheets without their input? Well, that’s how it is on the Agile communal farm, since everyone is an equal and all the code is communally owned.
“These Accountants Will Make Wonderful Farmers”
Think it’s a good idea for SQL experts to write HTML code and vice versa? Stalin did — he moved the population out of cities and onto collective farms causing the starvation of millions. This is what happens when you ask a generalist to do a specialist (farming) task. Imagine what it can do for your code today!
There is no right to ego either; everyone is viewed as equally capable on a project and no individual takes credit for any of their contributions. It’s all about the team.
No longer are team members allowed to program at night, at home, or not in pairs. All must toil on the collective farm together, with as little privacy as possible (shared room).
Like members of a breeding experiment gone awry, programmers must pair with others whether they desire to or not, and must pair with all the members of the commune even if they prefer certain members. A “group marriage” if you will, and I haven’t heard that term much since the 70’s.
Then of course there is the daily stand up Scrum, which is like a confessional except that everyone here’s everyone’s confessions, and the Scrum Master keeps track of each team members every move on a daily basis, reinforcing the concept that the group members (it would be hard to call them individuals at this point since they are not) are too inept to effectively manage their own time.
Whether or not someone answered A or B above, this author has amply (though not exhaustively) demonstrated that XP/Scrum invokes many of the tenets of Communism and Communal behavior, and makes the individual a tool and completely subservient to the group (State) interest, while minimizing the role of the individual ego to the maximum extent, and disempowering the individual by stripping away their privacy, intellectual property, real estate (private office) and “pairing” rights.
This may be great for the DPRK; for those of us living in Democracies that really do respect individual rights, this is just another example of not only how inconsistent XP/Agile/Scrum is, but how out of touch with reality it is in terms of respecting the rights of the individual.
The only thing they haven’t mandated is a Che Guevera emblazoned Burqa.
“Give me Liberty, or get me the heck off this project…..”