An Open Letter to the Project Management Community

Today’s post is very different from a typical MaximoDev technical article. Nevertheless I want to share with my little community my thoughts as a consultant and developer who strongly believes in the Agile Software Development values and principles.

Dear Project Managers,

I hear you have mixed views about the recent, er, “developments”, in the field of Software Development, commonly referred-to as “Agile Software Development practices”. I won’t call them “advances” as we may not be able to agree that they have, in fact, advanced anything.

I am writing to you today to share some opinions and observations about the changes in the software development field. Whilst patchy in their uptake, changes are afoot and we cannot stop them.

The Agile Software Development has brought tensions and misunderstandings between developers and project managers. Nowhere have these been more evident, perhaps, than between ‘traditional’ project managers and the Agile crowd.

I find it helpful to characterise this conflict as a clash of world-views. In a nutshell, a clash between what McGregor has called “Theory X” and “Theory Y”. A clash between a  positivist view of the world that believes in knowledge as a finite and achievable objective, and a postmodernist thinking of uncertainty and unpredictability.

I hope I’m right in thinking that we all share a common objective – a desire to see better outcomes for our customers, delivered within timescales and at a cost that delights everyone involved. Oh, and maybe improving effectiveness of the organisations within which we work, too.

Whilst it may appear the arguments and contentions arise from our different ways and means for achieving this objective, I’d like to suggest that the conflict – as a product of conflicting world-views – is more deep-seated, and thus more inextricable.

And given the fundamental differences between these world-views, it seems overly optimistic to expect these world-views even to coexist peacefully and productively.

All we might hope for is a little more understanding, a little less fractiousness, and a future where we can all at least agree to disagree.

Thanks for listening,
   an Agile thinker

Inspired (and partially copied) from Bob Marshall’s post.

An Open Letter to the Project Management Community

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