The Law of Raspberry Jam (Reflecting on Agile Progress)
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In his classic, The Secrets of Consulting, Jerry Weinberg offers us his Law of Raspberry Jam, “The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets.” I thought about this recently as I’ve read blogs and articles from Agilists who are bemoaning the state of our Agile movement. They are concerned that the movement has gone awry, that people are practicing prescriptive agile, that they are not living up to the vision of the founders.
So, what did they expect!
As any movement expands from its narrow early base of practitioners, others take it in unforeseen directions—some good, some not so good. That’s just the way movements go. We can wax nostalgic about the “good old days,” can reflect on progress and try to redirect, or we can innovate and move forward. As we reflect on 10 years of Agile, I’d prefer to focus on the positive—how we’ve learned to deliver value to customers faster, how we’ve brought quality to the forefront in ways that haven’t happened before, and how we’ve improved the quality of workplaces around the globe.
Yes, it’s thinner than we would like. But thinner isn’t all bad. And there are plenty of individual companies and organizations that are thick. Jam, at least good jam, is lumpy—it’s thicker in some places than others. Let’s push forward on things like DevOps, continuous integration, Lean/Kanban, agile product management, and enterprise agility. Let’s stand on the jam lumps and create more of them.
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