Is Agile the new micromanagement?

Posted by Smith James on Programmers See other posts from Programmers or by Smith James
Published on 2011-03-15T17:01:33Z Indexed on 2012/12/15 11:22 UTC
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This question has been cooking in my head for a while so I wanted to ask those who are following agile/scrum practices in their development environments.

My company has finally ventured into incorporating agile practices and has started out with a team of 4 developers in an agile group on a trial basis. It has been 4 months with 3 iterations and they continue to do it without going fully agile for the rest of us. This is due to the fact that management's trust to meet business requirements with a quite a bit of ad hoc type request from high above.

Recently, I talked to the developers who are part of this initiative; they tell me that it's not fun. They are not allowed to talk to other developers by their Scrum master and are not allowed to take any phone calls in the work area (which maybe fine to an extent). For example, if I want to talk to my friend for kicks who is in the agile team, I am not allowed without the approval of the Scrum master; who is sitting right next to the agile team.

The idea of all this or the agile is to provide a complete vacuum for agile developers from any interruptions and to have them put in good 6+ productive hours. Well, guys, I am no agile guru but what I have read Yahoo agile rollout document and similar for other organizations, it gives me a feeling that agile is not cheap. It require resources and budget to instill agile into the teams and correct issue as they arrive to put them back on track.

For starters, it requires training for developers and coaching for managers and etc, etc... The current Scrum master was a manager who took a couple days agile training class paid by the management is now leading this agile team. I have also heard in the meeting that agile manifesto doesn't dictate that agile is not set in stones and is customized differently for each company. Well, it all sounds good and reason.

In conclusion, I always thought the agile was supposed to bring harmony in the development teams which results in happy developers. However, I am getting a very opposite feeling when talking to the developers in the agile team. They are unhappy that they cannot talk anything but work, sitting quietly all day just working, and they feel it's just another way for management to make them work more.

Tell me please, if this is one of the examples of good practices used for the purpose of selfish advantage for more dollars? Or maybe, it's just us the developers like me and this agile team feels that they don't like to work in an environment where they only breathe work because they are at work.


Edit: It's a company in healthcare domain that has offices across US. It definitely feels like a cowboy style agile which makes me really not wanting to go for agile at all, esp at my current company.

All of it has to do with the management being completely cheap. Cutting out expensive coffee for cheaper version, emphasis on savings and being productive while staying as lean as possible.

My feeling is that someone in the management behind the door threw out this idea, that agile makes you produce more so we can show our bosses we're producing more with the same headcount. Or, maybe, it will allow us to reduce headcount if that's the case.

EDITED: They are having their 5 min daily meeting. But not allowed to chat or talk with someone outside of their team. All focus is on work.

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