Can we please stop imposing agile?

Refer me to just one single person who thrive by being forced to do anything without consent. Not possible?


Have we unconsciously sold the ‘soul’ of agile by silently accepting ‘agile’ to become an industry in itself where imposition has become the norm? Agile is now BIG business.

Scaling agile is the new fad.

Unfortunately imposing (forcing) agile on teams has grown in parallel with scaling. But the idea of scaling is not the problem.

Early warning in 2006

13 years ago in 2016 Martin Fowler gave us an early warning about imposing agile and he reminded us about the importance of self organizing teams. Maybe it was already too late, but let’s hope not:

More warnings in 2016

Many others are spreading the word these years (see Daniel Mezick’s input to The Agile Imposition and Hall of Fame – thank you @Daniel Mezick for encouraging me to do the same. I will do my best to live up to that.

As said, scaling is not the problem. Introducing agile is not the problem.

The problem is…

It is the implementation approaches without an Engagement Model that is the problem:

The solution is…

We invite everyone to actively engage in the agile transformations. Everyone!

And a ‘no thank you’ should be okay.

Ref. @Daniel Mezick

“The Agile space is now a “no-innovation zone.” It tolerates and in fact perpetuates a highly weaponized version of Agile. Coercion, command-and-control, force, and the routine mandating of specific practices are how this game is played. The Agile Industrial Complex perpetuates and then monetizes a culture of coercion and force.”

So, there is an alternative to imposition: The invitation.

Opt-in Engagement Models* exist. Some are even Open Source.

According to the well known 2017 Gallup report on employee engagement there is only 15% average engagement among employees worldwide.

I agree with @Doug Kirkpatrick (e.g. in “Beyond Empowerment”) that no-one should ever use coercion against other people, and we should keep the commitment we give to each other.

Let’s start *not* doing impositions today.

Especially in the agile industry where things are starting to get out of hand in my opinion.

I hereby invite you to please help with not imposing agile. It has to be opt-in, by accepting invitations.

Please spread the word?

*) Engagement Model examples are Open Space Agility (Daniel Mezick) and Agendashift (Mike Burrows)

An Engagement Model is any pattern or set of patterns, reducible to practice, which result in more employee engagement, especially during the implementation of an organization-change initiative (Daniel Mezick 2019: Inviting Leadership, p. 184).