Agile failed, and failed again

We all love being agile. I’m sure you’ve been in some sort of agile process in the past if not right now. But do you know, the success rate of an agile process is less than 10%, do you believe me?

In my dictionary, almost all agile process failed at some point. But why don’t you ever hear people saying the process failed? I don’t know. Maybe the whole team is lying to themselves, maybe they don’t dare to face their failure, or maybe they simply don’t know how to measure their success. It really doesn’t matter because I’m not here to question the human nature. I’m only here to point out they failed.

What is agile process?

So what is the agile process? The first minute you design a process on top of the agile, is the time that it becomes relatively fragile than used to be. Why? You might ask.

Because I don’t really think the author of the agile actually knows all the invention that has been added on top of what he proposed at the first place. I bet he simply wanted to propose something different than the waterfall. But instead people think he wanted more.

The agile process does work, but only momentarily or for a period of time. Afterwards, it’ll lose its momentum and its effectiveness. Why? Because we are all humans, the first time I see a formula of agile, I can instantly come up ten ways to beat it to favor myself. And normally whoever beat the formula isn’t the smartest in your team. When you see it fails on certain people, it’ll be eye-opener.

What is agile?

So what makes agile more effective? It’s being agile, contrast to the waterfall. We, as human, acknowledge that things has to be built gradually, especially for things that might be new to the team. Therefore, we want to approach a problem with a trial and error attitude, since we know no matter how hard we plan our future, there’re always things that might steer us to some other direction we can’t imagine.

Therefore, being agile is a spirit, a culture, a way of imaging how your future could unfold. It’s not a particular method that you can turn into a system. Yes you can turn it into a system and sell it million times, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work for you, more importantly, that doesn’t mean it’ll ALWAYS work for you. When last time did you see people sell a pill for success?

Why fails?

So agile can’t be quantified. The second you quantifies it, the next second I can beat it, not even intentionally. If a kid doesn’t want to be happy, there’s millions of ways he can torture himself. So if you want to be happy, be successful, you need to be agile at ALL TIME. Not because there’s a process trying to help you. It’s only because you want to be that way! If you don’t keep up like that, no one can help you. So please be happy, for your own sake.

Why fails again?

Sometimes, there’s a reason why agile fails. Because the inventor of agile doesn’t say he want to conquer the world by this only invention. The waterfall isn’t evil either. They both are merely two different approaches, or shall we say, two solid candidates for approaching a problem at hand.

No one ever says the waterfall has to fail. To the contrary, waterfall has its own advantages when you know from the very beginning how to do things from scratch. Like a builder who can craft a house, a musician who can play a song, do they have to use an agile approach for accomplishing things that they have done million times? Do they? Most of time, they don’t. Because they can accomplish it while they’re sleeping. Therefore there’s a reason why waterfall is the default way. Trust me, if you don’t like the default way, you can change it, but you don’t go 180 degree and say the opposite is the default way.


This isn’t the article crucifying the agile. This is the article crucifying people who prematurely declare their agile process the winner and believe they are winning while instead they lost from the very beginning very bad. BTW, what’s the benefits declaring your success prematurely? Who would say their marriage is a BIG success after only two years? Let’s grow up and face ourself a bit more objectively, shall we? Do yourself a favor!



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Fang Jin

Fang Jin

Front-end Engineer, book author of “Designing React Hooks the Right Way” sold at Amazon.