Shut Up, Bob

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Some of us are hurting our profession with the casual way we treat language. In the following examples, that guy is Bob.

Scenario 1

Bob: “Hey, where should we go to lunch?”

Joe: “I dunno, get in the car and we’ll decide later.”

Bob: “Yeah, we’ll just be agile about it.”

Giggle, giggle. Tee hee hee.

Scenario 2

Bob: “Hey, what are you working on?”

Joe: “I’m not sure what to do, Manager X told me to … and Manager Y told me to …”

Bob: “Ah, so you are being agile then?”

Gales of laughter, followed by a knowing wink.

Shut Up, Bob

Bob, you are causing harm. You are the reason agile has been coopted. You are undermining the efforts of your peers who are actually trying to better our profession. They are doing this for you, Bob.

Your cheap joke mocks a body of knowledge and professionals who are trying improve the life of your teammates. The fact that you will spend the next 20 minutes hanging out at the water cooler and planning lunch instead of driving positive change in your team lets me know where you are coming from.

When your CTO passed by and heard your little joke, it confirmed his suspicion he needs to keep the current command-and-control mechanisms in place. This also influenced his ideas of what agile really means, because all he had before is the contents of a 3 year old InfoQ article.

Bob, shut up. You aren’t just hurting yourself. You are undermining all of us.

13 thoughts on “Shut Up, Bob

  1. Business Vocabulary

    Agile: To do what I want right now and drop everything else you are doing.
    Test Driven Development: Write the code without any bugs at all.
    Paired Programming: Set at someone’s desk and watch them work.
    Refactoring: Changing stuff that doesn’t need to change and wasting time, in order to break stuff.

    Mostly this is Bob’s fault.

  2. I do get what you’re getting at and I sympathize, but if these efforts to better our profession are unable to withstand someone’s joke at a water cooler, we’re all doomed.

    Frankly I think Agile could use a dose of “not so serious”. An unfortunately large percentage of its practitioners have a smug, elitist air about them from thinking what they do is soooooo important. (not directing that towards you, David 🙂 They take things way too seriously as a result, belittling others that they claim they’re here to help learn. That’s much more of a potential pitfall than Bob is, in my book.

    I believe in software as a craft, Agile, TDD, etc. But I also believe the best way to win people over is with results. Let Bob say what he will, and then simply prove him wrong. Bringing attention to Bob by noticing him gives his wisecracks more credence than they should. People don’t change because you tell them to, but they will change when they see the results. (if they’re not idiots. can’t do much about stupidity until genetic engineering comes around.)

    Lighten up, roll with it, and evangelize Agile in today’s world knowing that people have feelings, including a sense of humor.

    [insert starving kids in China reference here]

  3. @Jason Mauer

    Perhaps I should have been more declarative. I do not think this kind of “sardonic wit” is joking, it is a defense mechanism.

    Mockery is the behavior of a coward or bully, often found in the same body.

    Bob isn’t actually making a joke. He is being derisive and sarcastic, which is the most common retreat of the uninformed and threatened.

    Hell, just watch Sarah (Bob) Palin make fun of that which she doesn’t understand. Ouch! Was that out loud?

    Disclaimer: I feel better about making a political statement in the comments, not the main post 🙂

  4. Working in an environment that has been very hostile to agile and having worked for the better part of 3 years to get us to adopt an agile methodology (finally we are doing scrum with a bit of XP), I take the exact opposite view.

    If your arguments for agile are so week that one schmuck can undermine them with a joke, then maybe you should rethink what your argument.

    Dave you of all people should be able to provide good examples of why agile benefits the development process, if the CTO’s suspicions are “confirmed” by the joke you failed in 2 ways

    1: Educating your CTO about what “agile” is
    2: Making a solid case for how agile benefit your development process

  5. Bob just shows that why it is the people that define success, not the process. Bob is probably performs badly at Waterfall, Kanban, Lean or any other fancy word we feel like giving an SDLC.

  6. @Richard (Bob The Janitor) Clements

    I am NOT talking about one person here, is the thing. I don’t understand why so many people I meet who are otherwise passionate and professional mock agile. Honestly, I don’t get it.

    I shouldn’t have thrown in that bit about the water cooler because these people are often passionate about what they do. There are amazingly talented architects and developers who think agile is worthy of mockery.

    Often, I am betting it is because of lack of understanding a feeling of being threatened. For those who actually understand the effects of agile teams and practices, but still mock it, I just don’t understand.

  7. Dude, you need to lighten up. I love agile, and I work with a whole bunch of other good developers who love agile, and we all joke like this all the time. The only crime we commit is that it is starting to become trite, but hey, we’re developers, not comedians.

  8. Having worked in the industry for a number of years and for a number of organizations I guess I am an architect and developer who does not get agile to the level you do.

    I see it as another SDLC with a great deal of good practices. Some make sense in a organization, some do not. For example, TDD is the hardest to sell for me as a consultant. Most developers today are trained in the more standard waterfall methodologies. I can usually sell automated tests, build machines, etc… But TDD is very difficult.

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