Better productivity through circle-jerks and cluster-f*$%s

Before Agile became popular, middle-management was a happy bunch. They got to present their agendas in front of a large audience. Pointing with a stick to emphasize bullets from a presentation or creating buzzwords gave them a fantastic ego-boost. Most importantly they were happy.

circle jerkWhile some smaller companies clearly benefit form ideas such as Scrum and Kanban, the dark-side of these modern techniques is often swept under the carpet and stays unreported. Reverting back to old processes is done in silence when Agile is causing too much grief.

What people switching to Agile miss the most, are the many different ways of interaction a ‘circle-jerk’ provided. Because meetings often used to be “all-hands”, everyone was invited to air their opinion, regardless if they actually worked on the project. Despite all it’s bad reputation, circle-jerks were great to bounce new ideas off total strangers and so ensure cross-pollination[1].

Agile advocates usually dismiss this and point out that:

“The over-excitement from extended circle-jerking has regularly resulted in cluster-fucks, which then needed even more circle-jerks to straighten out. Once such a vicious-circle-jerk<->cluster-fuck loop had started, it was very hard to stop, and often required the help of a dedicated task-force or even outside consultants.”

Dr. Baldock, who studies the long term effects on teams after migration to Agile methods believes that, contrary to all the buzz currently surrounding Agile, regular circle-jerks can be a very healthy experience for individuals and teams! Also cluster-fucks are not as bad or damaging as previously thought – like regular small forest fires, they may in the long run prevent more damaging or out of control events. Thus they make a company stronger if we allow them to happen often enough.

talebNassim N. Taleb an expert on the topic of “Antifragility” (the idea that some things gain from disorder or shocks), believes that cluster-fucks have been around for thousands of years. And they’re therefore likely to be with us for another thousand years (while Agile might vanish like Keyser Söze any time). Taleb stresses that companies who actively embrace cluster-fucks and allow circle jerks will avoid bigger disruptions later down the road.

[1] After Agile folk realised that replacing circle-jerks with “Scrum Stand-Up” meetings resulted in a lack of cross-team communication, they tried to solve the dilemma by inventing “devops”!

Please share your thoughts below.

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One Response to Better productivity through circle-jerks and cluster-f*$%s

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