Agile is not a tool

Many times—and it would be hard to try to count at this point—I’ve sat with a team to discuss how we’re working together, and someone asks the question:

What is stand-up for, anyway?

What makes this question so hard to answer? Why do we spend so much time doing something that we aren’t even sure about? Today I bring you those answers and more as we unpack everything that’s wrong with agile software development.

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The "Fallacy of Stochastic Invention" 🔊

If you haven’t seen this video that WebMD parent company “Internet Brands” sent to their employees telling them that they need to return to the office, you really have to check it out. It’s cringe-inducing, tone deaf, and callous in the way that American business has desperately worked to normalize for decades.

“We work better together,” Internet Brands CEO Bob Brisco states in the video, adding, “We aren’t asking or negotiating at this point.” The video leaked to the public and the reaction was… Predictable.

“Well,” you might say, “CEOs gonna CEO.” That’s true, the withering empathy of the C-suite, unchecked by labor or anti-trust protections dissolved by Ronald Reagan, has allowed the American CEO to evolve into a different species, one which looks upon its employees as “inconvenient gut flora1.”

But all that aside, the entire stated basis of this message is fallacious, and I’ll tell you why.

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Unplugging is good, actually

In the middle of 2021, a new word exploded through social media: “grindset.” The word may have been new, but the idea was not. Amid a continuing pandemic that upended our norms of work and life, the online world rallied around the notion that exceptionally hard work can transform a “side hustle” into a business.

Everything that was wrong about that idea back then is still wrong now, yet we continue to glorify “disruptors” and “innovators” and believe that the “Protestant work ethic” is the gateway to wealth. Although working hard and committing yourself to a purpose are noble and useful habits, don’t confuse raw, unmetered, self-destructive exertion with good leadership.

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Newsletter update

How has your year been so far? Has it met with your expectations?

As for me, my year has been great, but has not gone entirely as expected. A lot has changed for me, and there are changes coming for this publication, too. This is your “Curious Leader update post.”

TL; DR: I’m still here, and this is still happening.

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Challenge expectations 🔊

This comic from “” showed up on LinkedIn somewhere and made me laugh. It depicts one person boasting about using AI to expand a single bullet point into a lengthy email, and another person boasting about using AI to condense a long email into a single bullet point.

I think the reason this is funny is because it’s just possible enough to be believable, and highlights an ironic office process dysfunction in a novel way. It’s a ChatGPT joke, but it’s also a foolish workplace norms joke.

Let’s dig into what we can learn from it.

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