Vanguard of the Agile Proletariat

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this post by David Schmaltz (here).  I got to the post via a post by Glen Alleman on earned value, but David’s post ended up having little to do w/ earned value.

In particular, he used developments at SEI and in Agile to lament the perversion by the “suits” of what “trailblazers” and “pioneers”.  A common enough complaint by pathfinders — e.g., Martin Luther wasn’t looking to create the “Lutherans” when he tacked up the 95 Theses and Karl Marx wouldn’t have been too happy about the various mutations of “Marxist” thought (Hoxhaism and Juche are my favorite deviations). 

However, a couple of David’s examples don’t ring true:

  1. The creation of the Agile Manifesto (and Agile Alliance) seems more like a “suit” activity than a “trailblazer” or “pioneer” activity.  After all, agile methods had been around for a while already.  To my eye, the Snowbird meeting looked more like the First Council of Nicaea, where the early Christian Church came together and came up with an agreed upon creed
  2. David mentions SEI has two factions — one of which he considers trailblazers and pioneers.  These are SEI founders and principals who believe that their original intent had been compromised by the “suits” who showed up.  Fair enough.  But if they’re truly still trailblazers and pioneers, why are they still w/ SEI?  Wouldn’t they have moved on to the next adventure?
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3 Responses

  1. Paul,
    My sense from David most times is he’s making opinions rather than statements of facts. I work with senior SEI staff, senior CMMI apprasier staff in A&D and this notion os “suits” is not only not there, it’s silly. Since the primary users of CMMI appraisals in A&D are internal SCAMPI certified people.
    The conversation about EV started and quickly faded when David suggested EV was one of those ideas that was not applied correctly for reasons that again made no sense.
    As a daily user of EV – we do weekly status updates of Control Accounts for a $700M development program, with bi-monthly reports to the big guys in Eashington DC, and monthly CPRs “for the record,” there are many issues with EV when left to the amateurs to implement. This is not to say that EV is appropriate for many domains, or even appropriate on the program we’re working. But it is not magic, requires no magic beans. But it does require an understanding of the intent, purpose, and processes.
    It’s like buying SAP, owning the DVD’s, installing it on the servers and saying “hey we’ve got an ERP system.”
    Sad but true, this is the case for EV based programs at times. That’s the reason for DCAA and those pesky auditors.

  2. Hi Glen,
    Thanks… That was my take as well. I understand his point and in some ways agree with it, but his examples were way off. I’ll do a post on some real tech pioneers shortly.

    Of course, he likely considers me a “suit,” so I’m sure my opinions are discounted pretty heavily!

  3. Paul: I agree with your insight about the snowbird meeting. It might well be understood as an attempt to come in out of the cold. A brilliant marketing strategy. And paradoxical as heck. I’m not certain what the urge to codify is all about. But when a group of trailblazers decide to get together and create a manifesto, they are claiming territory, not trailblazing.

    Why are the “trailblazers” still hanging around SEI? My best guesses: They might believe they have better leverage influencing from the inside. If they’re like many others in other organizations, they’ve found that it’s darned difficult to make a living without subsuming your preferences, putting your head down, and working for the man. Trailblazing is hungry work.

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