Cargo Cult

This is an old blog post from posterous, translated and slightly modified. Things might have changed in the agile community. I think its message is valuable anyway, so here it goes.

A lot of teams adopt Scrum “rituals” hoping some miraculous result will happen. This reminds me a lot of the Cargo Cult. Sadly, this kind of superficial adoption seems too be encouraged by Scrum advertisement. Some people think that doing iterations and having a dashboard will solve all of a team’s problems; a dashboard is not a bad idea, it gives great insight on what’s happening in a sprint, but for whom will this visibility be useful? Why do sprints at all?

In most thing in our life, it’s not necessary to have a deep understanding of how and why things work. However, when you’re talking about something that is the very foundation of your work, understanding it as best as you can is quite important. And that is not valid only for process, but also the technology you use, task automation, meetings, and whatever you might think have an impact on your work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all against the rituals, as they can be a helpful when you’re starting to learn something new. In fact, imitation is a natural part of learning, at least according to “Dreyfus model of skill aquisition” and “Shu-ha-ri”.

My appeal here is for us to go beyond the “advanced begginer” stage on our professions, and get some knowledge on how the things we do actualy work. As a starting point, I suggest paying a visit to “Programmer Competency Matrix” and “Agile Developer Skills” in order to get a grasp on what you might improve on your work.

And one last thing, read this speach by Richard Feynman (you can also see the Wikipedia article), the main inspiration for this text.