With over 40 years managing software projects and with a good track record for on time and on budget delivery, I have to agree and disagree. The Agile Manifesto makes good sense and provides excellent guidelines for managing the process of software development. However, the false religions and fads that have grown out of Agile, such as Scrum, have become an insane parody of a software development methodology and a hamster wheel for developers.

Economically developing effective and robust software can be a difficult and risky endeavor, so software development methodologies have always been an exercise in risk management. Business management almost always fears risk. Failure can wreck careers. Selling Scrum has become a very big business and general management has eagerly bought a snake oil solution guaranteed to eliminate risk. Sadly, no methodology can, by itself, overcome development risk. That requires knowledge, judgement, and experience.

Scrum evolved to deliver Web sites, not complex, multilayered, software systems that depend for success upon an underlying architecture, coherent frameworks, integrated data design, and bullet proof security, i.e., software engineering. The recent tragedy of the Boeing 737 Max is an extreme example of what happens when software developers are focused on only small pieces of the problem space without the opportunity understand the whole picture. Any pilot could have told them that things break and that redundant, cross-checked sensors, and manual overrides are all critical to safety. Somehow, I doubt their management did.

I’m a US Army veteran of the Vietnam War, have a wonderful wife and family, am a working software engineer, and a committed citizen.

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