The Balkanization of Agile


Originally published at:

Anyone who’s ever taken an interest in history is typically fascinated by the country of Yugoslavia. Initially formed in 1918 by a merger of multiple provisional states, by 1946 the country was comprised of nine (9) different “states” all with different histories and demographic complexities. Yugoslavia eventually split from Stalin’s U.S.S.R. and attempted to function…

Beyond dogmatism: 6 ways to move towards understanding



Article and post about the future of Agile seem to gain some momentum. There must be some truth about it, that the diversification of ideas around Agile and the deviations from initial statements raises fear the Agile is being killed as such.

Agile coaching has become a big industry recently, which brings the attempt with it to establish standards. As Agile more or less has been established based on a “standard” - the Agile Manifesto - it feels like there is a strong tension towards enhancing it - like it has been done by the Scrum Alliance with The Scrum Guide

If I am honest I don’t get the message of these articles (like the one above). What is it that you are looking for? Should people shut up? Should they only talk upon what has been aligned a long while ago? I guess Agile would be starving in agony, if this would be the common sense.

Agile has turned out to be mindset rather than standard. Agile is attracting more and more people, which is creating more and more diversity as they are not like-minded. Agile has become its own momentum.

I don’t believe that Agile will go away again because of rude discussions about principles and frameworks, as it is strong enough to dissociate from them, as they violate the idea of the agile mindset by itself.

I am staying more with the example of the United States of America or the European Union where diversity and different opinions are cultivated rather than talking about Balkannization.


… my personal blog is exactly because I believe we need to free our mind from Agile being a standard or can be certified.


Or perhaps it’s just the natural order of any movement. Look at Christianity for example. It started with one group of 12 disciples. Now it has splintered into how many factions. They all still call themselves Christian but many of the factions disagree with each other on fundamental issues.



Seventeen people meeting in Utah, creating one manifesto (like the ten commandments). After that they have fragmented into several faction, each of them preaching their Gospel. All are believing to be in control of the final truth. Sound a bit like the state of many Agile certification programs :wink:


My point was not that we shouldn’t have healthy discourse and explore new viewpoints; my point was if you see someone whose opinion you disagree with, don’t pick an internet fight and shit on them like some keyboard tough guy. Enagage in healthy debate with an open mind. As adults we should be able to have that type of interaction without resorting to attacking each other.


An agile mind must work like a parachute. If it is not open, you will fail.

That’s a quote a borrowed from Frank Zappa.

Sentences, which start with “as adults we should …” are always a bit difficult to digest for me, because they already imply what you are pointing at. Literally you are saying, that everyone, who misbehaves, is not an adult. But what are they by then?

Also I am getting annoyed by these kind of discussions as well, which are not rational anymore, but become very emotional. Someone feels somehow threatened by a topic or a statement, because it affects and she/he does not know how to treat it. Even for something new, where we have any experience that we can count on, it can be devastating. But it destroys the debate at that point, if the personal impact is affecting the discussion.

I guess what you want to say is: be humble. I also would want to say: stay in these discussions and bring the back to the topic. Accept that people might not be able to follow ideas at that moment. Make their threats your arguments.

I believe, the misbehavior and missing humility in discussion is not a problem of agile only, it is a problem of our society. Who does really engage in solving disputes? It really takes time and a lot of patience. In times where we are moving that fast, that we even do hard to follow, this becomes a tough exercise we need to face. But, as humans we must be able to…


I was very active in the larger agile community from 2008 - 2010 (… but then I left the larger community because I saw this. My point is, this conversation has been going on for quite awhile, and I agree with your post. Many times I’ve likened the “denominations of agile” to the Christian religion and I’m not close to being the first. As people come into the community, they tend to go down the path of “embracing the philosophy” vs. “embracing the tools/process”. Those that focus on the 2nd tend to get led astray. This problem didn’t just start, it won’t end anytime soon.

I found Agile Uprising in the past few weeks (thank you OnAgile 2017), and immediately feel like I belong.

The solution to this problem is to not let yourself get overwhelmed and apathetic (as I did), but to focus on the people who are sincerely interested in discourse and knowledge. The mass riot can keep changing the names and methodologies, but the core philosophy will never die if we keep it alive!