Why is so much advice in the Agile space framed from a negative perspective?

It's all "don't do this" and "stop doing that".

I'm sure I've done it myself - mea culpa.

Maybe it's today's Internet climate, the need to put over strongly-opinionated #content to get #engagement. Should you ever get the chance to speak to an Internet firebrand for realsies (pot meet kettle), you'll often find their actual opinions are more reserved and nuanced - leaning towards the consultant's answer of "it depends". Of course it does!

Take the Agile Manifesto - it's a reflective and forward-looking document. Note the "x over y" language and how it recognises both sides have value, but one side is valued more.

I value the Agile Manifesto for how it communicates its message. I read it and become inspired.

As I reflect more on how leaders influence and shape the environment around them, I'm becoming more aware that "stop doing x, don't do y, do z instead" advice harms more than it helps. Why?

Journey Before Destination

Let's take a concrete example. A team have recently moved from estimating work in hours to using story points. In discussion, you provide advice to stop using story points and instead right-size stories to roughly a day, because "story points are trash". You may have lots of data to back up your point. But on the other hand, that team improved their process, which still should be celebrated, rather than attacked.

Agility advocates can be criticised for using the No True Scotsman fallacy as an argument - what you're doing isn't right, it's not "Agile". Holding an impossible-to-meet standard against those trying their best, regardless of where they are in their journey.

What would it look like if, instead, you meet people where they are? Recognise their achievements and help them towards their next steps. This isn't to say your opinions are invalid. How you communicate those opinions matters.

Enquire about what led them to adopt story points. How do they feel it's going? What patterns are they noticing? What differences has it produced? Hmm, you looked uncomfortable talking about "measuring velocity" there - what worries you about that?

Sparking curiosity invites participation and provides growth opportunities. A 'guru' giving the answer and downplaying progress creates disengagement, which can lead to resentment.

Instead of telling people not to do something, have you tried listening to them?