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A holiday perspective on Agile.

TLDR: Agile is no longer focussed on making teams successful, instead it’s a never ending soul crushing process of products, certifications, and processes that no longer support the people. But we can change this, together!


During this time of year, people all around the world gather together to celebrate (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Ōmisoka, Yule, and more). Each of these is a celebration focused on bringing people together supported by traditions, rituals and practices.

Similar to these celebrations Agile used to be focused on bringing people together with its own rituals and practices to cut through the crap, and support working efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately in the last 2 decades a lot of what is now called Agile is no longer focused on people. Instead it’s become a quagmire of processes, tools, certifications, and fixed forever repeated rituals which slowly drive people to madness.

A participant in yet another daily standup...

“It’s a devastated wasteland. The life has been sucked out of it. It’s a few religious rituals carried out by people who don’t understand the purpose that those rituals were intended to serve in the first place.” (source: Extreme Programming Creator Kent Beck: Tech Has a Compassion Deficit | Built In , shout out to @Sven Peters  for mentioning it on Twitter)

But what do we do with a wasteland?
We redevelop it and turn it into something beautiful and functional!


Agile wastelands? Let's turn Agile back into a celebration of teams and people building together to create amazing things!

Here are some tips and tricks to get you started, but feel free to leave more in the comments below.

  • Go back to the basics set down in the Agile Manifesto. Don’t forget about the all important words at the bottom: That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
  • Know that you don’t have to follow Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, XP, or any other methodology. Build your own Agile way of working, based on the 12 Agile Principles!
  • Rinse and repeat, keep improving and remember that being Agile means being in a constant state of change and reflection. Know that you’ll never reach perfection.
  • Keep in mind that what works for one team might not work for yours. We aren't all Google, Spotify, or Meta. You are you, and that's amazing!
  • Above all: keep your people front and center, don’t get blinded by fancy tools or methodologies. Your people are what makes your team and your work successful.

At Umano we'll be using 2023 to build out our team performance tools, focused on bringing humanity back into technology, supported by data, focused on people.

For me personally it will be focussing on helping redevelop the Agile wasteland through content, coaching, and community building.

What are your good Agile intentions for 2023? Please let me know in the comments.


Frederik December 15, 2022


A nice and positive article instead of the usual negative rant.

I couldn't agree more ... Scrum / Kanban have become synonyms for Agile and they really are not.

Back to the basic manifesto and the basic 12 principles and doing it in your own way because every project, every team, every company ... is just different.

Intentions for 2023 ? Well ... just that ...

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Chris Boys December 15, 2022

Focussing on people first and being values led (i.e. having your practices grounded in the Agile principles) will always be the way forward! Thanks for sharing @Peter Van de Voorde !

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Bryan Smith
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
December 16, 2022

Well said Peter- I point people to the 12 agile principles in an effort to help them reflect on the rituals and decisions they're making vs. being dogmatic about either. Happy holidays- let's celebrate the wins of 2022 and beyond! Bryan

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Imran Taqvi December 22, 2022

I like the idea of 'Build your own Agile way of working based on the 12 Agile Principles'. Thank you @Peter Van de Voorde for planting this seed.

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