Robert Melton's Writings

Modern Agile Bullshit #2: Tool Worship

Gather ‘round, children, and let me tell you a story about how modern Agile has taken a giant, steaming dump on one of its own core values. Remember the Agile Manifesto? That sacred text that proclaimed “individuals and interactions over processes and tools”? Well, apparently, modern Agile practices missed that memo, because they’ve become so obsessed with tools like JIRA that they’ve completely forgotten about the importance of actual human beings.

In the bizarro world of modern Agile, requirements aren’t discussed and refined through rich, interactive dialogue. Oh no, that would be too simple. Instead, they’re filed away as soulless tickets in some godforsaken tool. Productivity isn’t measured by the impact of the software you deliver or the satisfaction of your users. Nope, it’s all about how many tickets you can close, like some kind of demented game of Whac-A-Mole. And your worth as an employee? Forget about your actual contributions or the quality of your work. In the eyes of modern Agile, you’re only as valuable as your JIRA velocity.

This tool-worship is a complete perversion of what Agile was supposed to be about. Instead of fostering collaboration and problem-solving, it reduces human interactions to a series of soulless workflows dictated by software. Teams no longer gather around a physical board to have meaningful discussions about their work. They’re too busy staring at JIRA reports like a bunch of zombies.

And let’s talk about how this tool obsession warps incentives. Teams are no longer focused on delivering value to customers. They’re focused on pleasing the almighty tool. It’s all about gaming the system, marking tickets as “done” as quickly as possible, regardless of whether they’ve actually solved a real problem. Easy, low-value tickets get prioritized over complex, high-impact work, because they boost those precious velocity metrics.

But the real tragedy is how this tool obsession stifles creativity and flow. Developers spend more time context-switching between different tools than they do actually solving problems. It’s like trying to write a novel while being constantly interrupted by pop-up ads.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Tools have their place. They can be helpful for coordinating work and keeping everyone on the same page. But they should never be the center of the universe. A truly great software company can build amazing products with nothing more than a whiteboard and some post-it notes if they have the right people and culture in place.

So, let’s stop treating Agile tools like some kind of divine idol that demands our constant worship. Instead, let’s focus on building skilled, motivated teams with clear goals, and let the tools support that effort, not dictate it. At the end of the day, it’s the outcomes that matter, not how many tickets you closed in JIRA.

It’s time for modern Agile to go back to its roots and remember that people, not tools, are the heart and soul of great software development. Let’s stop the tool worship and start putting humans back at the center of the process. Because if we don’t, we risk turning Agile into nothing more than a soulless, bureaucratic machine that churns out mediocre software.

And that, my friends, is the real bullshit of modern Agile.