I have to be honest here… The message I’m reading in your post here Jeff doesn’t sound very different at all from what I took away from Steve’s. I expected his post to be out-of-the-blue and off-the-wall like the last one, but I was surprised to find that it is much more tempered.
What I saw at the heart of Steve’s post is not a “methodology atheism”… it was something like maybe a “methodology agnosticism”. I.e. he’s not saying there’s no right answer, but rather that he doesn’t pretend to know what the right answer is for you. The right answer for you may not be the same as the right answer for the other guy. And to lift up one methodology above all others and declaim and deride the refusers is nothing but politics.
How exactly is “staying lightweight” different from Agile?
“Staying lightweight” is a goal and a philosophy that transcends blind rule-following and rituals. “Agile” is a marketing scheme and a brand, complete with scheister salesmen and cult followings. Does this mean that Agile is worthless, or a “bad” way of staying lightweight? Certainly not. It just means it’s not the One True Path, and shouldn’t be treated like it is.
I’m not sure why Steve is so uncomfortable with the idea of software development as a religion.
First off, I don’t think he’s uncomfortable with it being a “soft science”, or a philosophy. But “religion” comes with a whole host of burdens, traps, warts, etc. With it comes zealots, Inquisitions, Crusades, heretics, martyrs, Dark Ages, “infallible” patriarchs, posturing, politics, indulgences, and so on ad infinitum.
Second, I think what Steve is really uncomfortable with the endless cycles of “the next big thing”, whereby the community gets hyped up over a supposed cure-all and any “unbelievers” who happen to work better and more comfortably under a different methodology are slowly but surely ostracized. It’s ridiculous. It’s a tremendous waste of time and money. And it results in tremendous pressure for people were getting by just fine, thank you very much, to bend to the will of the mob, or risk ridicule, defamation, loss of status, etc., etc. Only for it to blow over in ten years or so when the next big thing takes the community by storm and we all have to change again.
It’s high school stuff. And for as much as we geeks and nerds make fun of the suits for their posturing, our community is no less guilty of it. Ours just happens under the guise of methodology.