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Why agile is wrong

Maybe we should be drastic, not agile.

“Move fast and break things”, “Test and Learn”, “Dynamic optimization”, “Fail fast”, we’ve all embraced the thinking of the modern age and it's to be reactive, to try things, to respond fast to always be changing.

We've a contemporary idea that strategy is forged and refined by A-B testing, product market fit comes from a low cost trial, we can make MVP's and see what the market thinks. Shein sells 150,000 different items per year and just reorders more of what seems to work. It's a business rooted in data not vision, nor belief.

Clearly moving fast is good, clearly bureaucracy is bad, but sometimes I’m not sure we're able to know when to be fast and when to be stubborn. When to ponder deeply and stick to our guts and when to pivot fast as the wind changes. When to make the market work around us, and when to work around it.

A tiny example.

Can anyone remember the last software update that changed things that much?

Maybe it was 2013 and iOS 7.0, where we shifted from Skuemorphic design to flat more iconic design.

I'm not complaining, it's just thousands of people have for years worked their buts off, spending billions of dollars, to release 7 to 10 new versions of iOS every year, of which nobody notices much difference. Of course, over several years it's improved.

Can you imagine the extraordinary work that goes into testing, compliance, security patches, more testing, bug fixing, and more. And now we've software thats more bloated, slower and more complex than ever before.

It's the same for most companies, if in 2010 Apple and Microsoft or Sony or Samsung or Sonos, or Adobe had said, every 5 years we will make something extraordinarily bold and new and different. We'd have software that's transformative, not iterative. Car makers do this well. TV makers do not.

Most companies today are in a fight trying to keep up with today, they are endlessly trying to keep as far behind others as they are. They are tweaking.

I wonder sometimes if we need the opposite to agile. We need sudden leaps and then stability. We need huge new paradigms of systems designed in tandem with each other and forging new ground. We need continual 5 year plans. Fix, then develop, then fix again.

Knowing when to stick, when to change, when to be bold, when to be fast, when to be slow, these seem more important than this sense of directionless panic and constant refinement.

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