Agile Anti-Patterns


Why the hack should I concentrate on what went wrong?

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how 
to become more effective
, then tunes and adjusts 
its behavior accordingly.

Principle #12 of

All of us fail in myriad ways almost every single day and yet we live in an age where it is difficult to be honest about failure, where it seems that everyone else is nailing their life.

Elizabeth Day, the “poster girl of failure” in

At least according to some constructivists you cannot learn from non-failure. Cf.

We have to accommodate permanently to new experiences which render our understanding of the world incomplete, improvable, or to be clear: just wrong. Maybe it’s just another way to ‘live’ W. E. Deming’s PDCA concept.

Accommodation can be understood as the mechanism by which failure leads to learning: when we act on the expectation that the world operates in one way and it violates our expectations, we often fail, but by accommodating this new experience and reframing our model of the way the world works, we learn from the experience of failure, or others’ failure.

W. E. Deming talked a lot about Appreciation of a system (basically, it is one of his four points in his System of Profound Knowledge), because he knew any system will either destroy itself or end up in a stable or steady state, which I regard as a local extremum. Learning from anti-patterns will bring you to a better extremum.

Since you now got aware that failure seems to be quite normal and even useful, my question would be: What actually is failure? Which state of a system should be labelled ‘good’ which one should be called ‘bad’? How should I define quality? Let’s read a Deputy Director of The Deming Institute’s take on this:

What is the thinking which drives one to act upon the belief that the quality of industrial chemicals expires instantly, with a seeming blare of trumpets, on their implied expiration date?

Bill Bellows in

And (maybe finally, at least for the moment) I want to quote the great pianist and author of the book ‘Effortless Mastery’, Kenny Werner:

Perfection, to me, is celebrating the mistakes. The idea of avoiding mistakes is may be the thing that makes you miss the most important discovery.

Kenny Werner, Effortless Mastery, in

So, does this art of failure mean sucking at things is good? No. The opposite is true. We have to train very hard to acquire knowledge, expertise, and dexterity – actually: To become good at things. But then the real life starts. And in real life things are different.

Effortless Mastery means ‘precision with ease’. So, if you are training you train like a monk studies scriptures over and over again.

You train with complete devotion.

But you perform with complete detachment.

Kenny Werner, Effortless Mastery, in

Now you get a short insight into the art of failure, why it is quite normal, that it is our obligation to try hard and not to weep when we fail, but to learn from our failures.

But is it fun? Yes, at least it can be, if you listen to Hans Gosling’s TED on ‘How not to be ignorant about the world’:

“You almost made it to the chimp.”

Hans and Ola Gosling in

Scrum Anti-Patterns

Here is my list of Scrum anti-patterns:

SAFe Anti-Patterns

General Agile Anti-Patterns

Traditional Project Anti-Patterns

  • Agile works for everything, including building airports, tax collection, playing a piano concerto, and cardio surgery.
  • Treating BAU as a project.
  • Lack of management responsibility.
  • No clue about change.
  • Ignore the 1% Requirements Creep Rule.

Shall we talk about some difficulties with BER? Maybe later.