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November 30, 2016


OK, so this will be awkward, and maybe cringe-inducing post. But we are approaching the new year. Plenty of people might be making new year resolutions. Many will be around fitness. So everyone needs to read this.

I was once really impressed by 24 Hour Fitness. I used to see their ads on TV, watch super-fit, muscular people coated with sweat leave the neigbourhood location as I was ordering Jalapeno Poppers from Jack In The Box. I used to imagine the mind-boggling array of fitness machines inside the location. I used to think of being motivated by master of contradictions, oxy-moronic Mother Theresa drill-seargeant fitness intructors. So I finally, I did it! I got myself a gym membership.

However, I was very disappointed with the results. At the risk of being sued by 24 Hour Fitness (I will create a Go Fund Me campaign to pay the legal bills) I will tell you the truth...



After months of membership, there was no change in my physique. I did not have one new muscle or one new iota of fitness. None of the coaches or sophisticated machines helped me. I was just the same. 24 hour fitness had no trouble hitting my credit card every month, but there was no ROI. I was very disillusioned with the whole fitness industry. They were just con artists exploiting the vulnerabilities and desires of innocent hard working people like me.

Oh, BTW, did I tell you that I never once went to the gym? I wanted to be like the cool kids and if anyone asked me if I work out, I wanted to tell them something evasive but not completely untruthful like -


"I have a membership at 24 Hour Fitness. It's really close-by."

"I really like the ambience at 24 Hour Fitness."

"I will probably work out at 24 Hour Fitness this weekend."

I just didn't want to feel left behind or sound uncool when I was hanging out with the cool kids. But it was too painful to actually get up and go to the gym, especially when I could have a nap or watch TV. However, I liked having the option so that some day, if I really wanted to, I could go to the gym.

This reminds me of the relationship many CXO's have with Agile...



They buy an expensive Agile membership by paying the monthly fees for Agile Tools (Rally, VersionOne, JIRA, etc.), by hiring Agile Coaches, sending people to Agile Training, re-naming Project Managers to Scrum Masters and Business Analysts to Product Owners. This way, they can still hang out with the cool kids and if anyone asked about Agile, they could say something evasive but not completely untruthful like -


"We are Agile - we have <Rally/VersionOne/Jira/etc.>"


"We are Agile - we have Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters, Product Owners."


"We are Agile - we just sent a bunch of people to Agile Training."



They wouldn't have to change the way they think or behave, just change the way they talk and add a monthly auto-payment to the company's credit card payment, so they could sound more "Agile."



The more time I spent with executives like this, the more commonalities I observed between them. I realized that their behavior was more likely to help their companies in Sabotaging Agile than in being Agile. I captured some of these ideas in a blog last week - SABOTAGILE! – PROVEN TECHNIQUES FROM INDUSTRY EXPERTS TO FAKE AGILE, DEFEND THE STATUS QUO & ADVANCE YOUR CAREER . The blog introduces the unifying guiding values and principles of this group of people, via the Sabotagile Manifesto & Sabotagile Principles. Let me paste them here for quick reference...





Manifesto for SabotAgile Software Development


We are uncovering better ways of


faking Agile Software development,


defending the status quo, and


advancing our careers.



Through this work we have come to value:


Defining rigorous processes with Milestones, Phase Gates, and Audit Trails


Tracking project and program progress with Gantt Charts, %-age completion reports and Red-Yellow-Green executive dashboards


Holding resources accountable with baselined contracts with fixed-scope, fixed-dates, fixed-costs


Preventing a descent into chaos with rigorous change control boards


Integrating phrases from flavor of the decade fads into lingo without changing behavior


This is how we have delivered software in the real world for decades.


And this is how we are going to do it!


© 2016,
this declaration may be freely copied in any form,
but only in its entirety through this notice.





Principles behind the SabotAgile! Manifesto


We follow these principles:

Our highest priority is to have resources deliver on scope, on time, on budget.

Rigorously control deviation from plan to prevent resources from wriggling out of commitments & to prevent business from moving the goal-posts.

Increase efficiency from resources through economies of scale, phase gates and large batch sizes.

Use proxies between business people and resources, enabling business people to be externally focused and do real work.

Use management oversight, performance objectives and bell-curves to maximize output from resources.

Use documents and e-mails with audit trails as primary means of communication with resources.

Executive dashboards are the primary measure of progress made by resources.

Resources work late nights, weekends and cancel vacations to meet deadlines.

Resources meet commitments by delivering to production and then patching with agile fast-followers as needed.

Leverage economies of scale by having resources deliver as many features as possible in each release.

Hire smart technical leaders to come up with architecture and design that junior resources can implement.

Provide a sense of freshness to resources by integrating buzz words from latest fashionable flavor(s) of the decade into process and procedures manuals, training and executive communication without changing our way of thinking and behaving.

Conduct postmortems with resources at the end of projects if time allows, as long as it does not interfere with resources doing real work.


Return to Sabotagile Manifesto


© 2016,
this declaration may be freely copied in any form,
but only in its entirety through this notice.


If you would like to compare and contrast Agile & Sabotagile Manifesto & Principles, check out my Slides on Slideshare 



OK, so that was the easy part. Now for the hard part...

How can we make Managers, Directors, VP's/SVP's & CXO's understand the difference between what they say (Agile) and what they do(Sabotagile)? Management is usually super-busy doing "real work" and has too short an attention span for conversations like this. Fear not - I have the perfect solution - the Sabotagile Quotient, which we will explore in the next blog.

Until then, please discuss with your teams and management and let me know what you think.

Keep calm and Scrum On!

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