Thursday, June 25, 2020

Baloney Detection Kit for an Agilest

Baloney Detection kit for Agilest is a set of cognitive tools and techniques that fortify the mind against falsehoods, hypes, and fads; inspired by Carl Sagan’s work on the Baloney Detection Kit.
The kit is offered as the first line of defense against ever-increasing marketing takeover of software development & maintenance practice. In recent years we have seen the rise of Agile of working and with its exponential rise in Experts and Authorities. This has led to numerous me too frameworks, methods, processes, and ways of working claiming universal applicability.
In my effort to shield myself against clueless guile and deliberate manipulation, I apply the following guideline:
1. Argument from authority carry little weight: Do I need to allude beyond the above statement? How many times you have purchased a ticket for a seminar because of an authority from an organization is the keynote speaker?
2. Celebrity endorsement is just a marketing ploy: This particular book’s preface is written by a celebrity, it must be excellent!!
3. By Book only: Scrum Guide does not specify any meeting for Refinement, so we should not have any. Have you heard this argument earlier?
4. Most of the time social media trending is an excellent example of social media manipulation/ sensationalism: Remember the “Agile is dead” and media storm after that. Was there any substance in the storm?
5. Use of technical language is not a guarantee of facts/truth: Recently we have seen an attempt to connect Neuroscience and Agile. Most of these attempts are sprinkled with the technical language of neuroscience written by people who have no technical training and experience. Few of such examples are: The Neuroscience of Agile Leadership , What is Neuroscience and why is it important?, Transforming Information into Action, Brain Loves Agile website, Neuroscience for Agile Leadership - Our Brain, Neuroscience for Product Managers - Agile on the Beach, and https://www.agileneuro.com
6. Most of the time astronomical claims are the first step toward falsehood: Use Scrum and increase profitability by 30 times. Sounds familiar!!!
7. Use of superlatives: One of the leading Agile Planning tools writes in one of its blog entries (6 Benefits of Kanban for Project Management - Blog | Planview) that one of the benefits of Kanban in Project Management is “A More Perfect Product”.
8. Use of adjectives and adverbs is a clever ploy to hide facts: Lots of time while giving arguments in favor of Scrum, organizations, as well as experts/authorities, state “higher productivity”, “increased quality”, etc. Here the focus is on adjectives and adverbs to obfuscate the quantitative facts.
9. Facts and beliefs and/or opinions are two different things: To unsuspecting audiences; beliefs and/or opinions are presented as facts. Just look at 5 Beliefs That Predict Enterprise Agile Success
10. Mixing up of facts and fiction/falsehood (half-truths/suppression of inconvenient facts): Changing the world for the better car was touted in $20,000 (The Benefits of Scrum). While mentioning the price of car regulatory fees, labor charges, investment in the assembly plant, and numerous costs were ignored. A prime example of suppression of inconvenient facts.
11. There is no universal solution to fit in all possible contexts: Scrum is the best method to execute any software project. I am sure you must have heard this statement in some form or other by various Scrum authorities. In this statement, it is very clear that Scrum is a universal solution that is far from the truth. There is no “the solution”.
12. Statics is a very powerful tool, can be used to twist analysis and results: Statics is can be used to portray a specific picture, not to portray a picture. Most of the surveys based on small data set, a victim of skewed sampling, and an ill-designed questionnaire. In the 14th Annual Agile Report total respondent are 1,121 (mentioned on page 5) though it is mentioned in the first line of the executive summary that since inception 40,000 people have participated in this survey without mentioning the number of years and year wise break down. The graphics depicting geographic distribution and organizations in which they work (on page 6) without correlation among these facts. Also, nowhere survey mentions that what is the total population of software professionals, organizations, and their geographic distribution. Statics is a science as well as art.
13. Irrelevant facts do not add any credibility to the relevant facts: To confuse one of the oldest tricks is overwhelm the information seeker with irrelevant information. Especially if irrelevant information is about political correctness most people will not dare to challenge. In the 2019 State of DevOps report under the heading - "who took the survey?", there are illustrations depicting participants' gender, disability, and under-represented groups.
14. Use of not defined words/phrases and/or twist the meaning of them: I am sure; you must have encountered words like Business Value and Flow. Do you know what do these words mean?
15. Don’t ignore the cultural and temporal context of the words/phrases: The consensus in Scandinavian region – Topic is discussed and everyone agrees on a single course of action
Consensuses in India/China/Japan/Arab world – Senior indicates his wish, the team reaches the consensus around that wish.
16. Wider adoption of a belief is not an indicator of facts/truth. It just indicates that it is intellectually easy to grasp for an average audience: In its prime time, PMI backed Project Management methodology was dominating the discussion over V-model. Did PMI methodology was better than V-model? An excellent example of the offline Slashdot effect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot_effect).
17. Excluded middle of false dichotomy rules out the wide spectrum of possibilities: I am sure, you must have heard – what is the difference between Plan Based methodology and Agile methodology (sic!)? In the question, only two extreme possibilities are considered while ignoring the whole of the spectrum.
18. Unstated Assumptions:
Why do you think Agile is failing?
In this question, there is an unstated assumption – Agile failing.
Watch out for such biased statements/questions to distort the thinking process.
19. Always watch out for the difference in Correlation and Causation
Look for mixing of correlation and causation.
• Lots of impediments of a development team can be tackled by swarming
• A team which does a lot of swarming has less number of impediments
Watch out for reverse causality as well to avoid the informal fallacy of questionable cause
• DevOps has led to higher productivity of operations
• Demand for higher productivity from operation led to the evolution of DevOps
20. Claimant revealing the results but not the research methodology and/or data points: Empirical data shows that stable teams are 60% more productive and 60% more responsive to customer input than teams that rotate members (Embracing Agile). The only claim of the results, no data points or analysis.
21. A claim is not verifiable by multiple sources: Much quoted “The CHAOS Manifesto” by Standish Group 2012 claims that 29% of Waterfall projects fail while only 9% of Agile projects are categorized as a failure. Is there any other study to corroborate the results?
22. Absence of counterclaims result from no verification from someone else or cartelization
23. Does the claimant’s beliefs/biases/previous work drive the conclusion or vice versa?: Have you ever heard any argument of not using Scrum (Kanban or any other method/framework) by any of Top 50 Agile authors/bloggers? Do you smell an unspoken understanding? Do you feel any bias?
24. Repackaging of known information (knowledge): Have you read SBOK (Scrum Body of Knowledge) Guide?
This checklist, I often use whether it is a blog entry or a video or keynote or workshop or book or any other form of information sharing platform. Though it is not perfect, it has served me well over the year.
In the last, a statement from Carl Sagan
Like all tools, the baloney detection kit can be misused, applied out of context, or even employed as a rote alternative to thinking. But applied judiciously, it can make all the difference in the world — not least in evaluating our own arguments before we present them to others.

4 comments:

  1. This information is impressive; I am inspired how continuously you describe this topic. After reading your post, thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel happy about it and I love learning more about this topic snowflake training

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great Content. It will useful for knowledge seekers. Keep sharing your knowledge through this kind of article.
    Scrum Master Certification in Chennai
    CSM Training in Bangalore
    Scrum Master Certification Online
    CSM Training in Pune

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great Content. It will useful for knowledge seekers. Keep sharing your knowledge through this kind of article.
    Scrum Master Certification in Chennai
    CSM Training in Bangalore

    ReplyDelete