How are Agile and Blockchain similar and in what ways do they differ?
16 February 2023
What is Agile?
It is an iterative approach to product development that helps teams deliver faster what’s more important.
What is Blockchain?
It is a type of distributed database or ledger, which means the power to update a blockchain is distributed between the nodes of a public or private computer network.
How are those two similar?
Both words are hype. There is no one who has not heard of them in the IT industry.
On the other hand both are usually represented to the audience by just one small subset:
Agile is identified with the Scrum framework and Blockchain with Bitcoin.
Just to mention that under the Agile umbrella there are many more practices and frameworks like Kanban, TDD, XP, SAFe, LESS, Nexus, while still Scrum is the most popular and widely known.
On the other hand there are many cryptocoins, like Dodge, ETH, ADA, and around 22000 more in that list. Cryptocoins are just one small aspect of BC tech, where you have many protocols, consensus mechanisms, and frameworks like hyperledger, which does not have primary intention to create currency.
When something is happening to BtC it affects all the other crypto, so most people draw equal sign between crypto and BTc, same is with scrum and agile. Not that we are saying that this is true, but at least both are headliners in their area.
Agile is built on the foundation from Agile manifesto principles and values, Blockchain drives everything from utilising consensus algorithms, like PoW so both are advocates of transparency and self-organisation. Like Agile teams work without hierarchy, the original idea of Blockchain wants to give power to the network and avoid intermediaries.
Both are totally misunderstood by management and by the wider population. There are popular generalisations like: Scrum masters are glorified secretaries, Agile Coaches are fog sellers who just talk, and BC techies are some nerds that drive lamborghinis.
Both are multi billion businesses.
With few millions of certified agilest and growing, across multiple certifying bodies, and average training going from few hundred $ and tens thousand of consultants.
The global cryptocurrency market cap on the article writing day is $1.08 Trillion.
On the other hand, what is the real application of both is questionable. Is there any real use case for successful adoption of crypto yet, or really usage of BC where some other solution could be used (maybe it’s too early).
Both have believers in them (author is one of them, disclaimer), but still just believing, without having the proof. Both are advocating some new world where going to a job and doing business could be transparent and fun, pretty similar to paying without intermediaries and fees to some institutions. Less control and more trust.
Both are not utilised by FAANGs.
The largest companies in the world do not advocate too much of scrum or agility, and they do not meddle in the BC, especially crypto world still. So, both are still alternatives.
Agile is older. Agile manifesto turned 20, and most frameworks exist around 30 years. BC is still a teenager.
You can watch BC popularity on the exchanges, like BtC, while you do not know really how agile is doing.
BC is in the news, agile is in yearly reports, so hype is dying slowly there.
BC technology is loved by developers while Agile not so much, we can say some even oppose to SMs, etc.
Agile created and established job roles like POs, SMs, agile coaches, which still are not clear to the most people, and BC is not going into this direction, while we still have founders, agile investors etc, they are not specific to BC.
People treated as BC experts are earning a lot of money. If SW dev is working as a BC expert, he can be on average paid 50000$ yearly more than regular SW dev. If you compare this to project managers (non agile role) and scrum masters, there are no such big differences.
As a startup or company, it will be a magnet for investors if you mention BC, and you will much more easily raise capital, tahn if you mention that you are an agile company. Even if it’s true that a company can show off its agility to attract people and/or retain employees (if its agility it’s real or is smoke in the eyes is another topic).
You can be a CSM after attending 2 days training on average, and you cannot be certified BC expert in such a short time period. There is not even proper schooling and wide based adopted certification for this.
To be an agile expert you do not need to have tech knowledge, to be BC expert, you need to have a pretty good understanding of mathematics, cryptography, etc, even if you are working in an agile BC company.
On the other hand there are not so many companies that will try to steal your money doing agile consultancies (sometimes they are just doing something else than agile), but there are a lot of con men in the BC world. Rug-pull, hacking acc, false exchanges, stealing wallets are breaking headlines, and ruining trust in BC.
We are not seeing flying cars over the streets as futurists in the 1980s hoped for. Should we prepare for slow dying of Agile and BC tech? One of possible diagrams for application of BC in business is as below, and with honesty I can say that it is true in 99% of cases.
How much time will we wait to see a similar process flow for Scrum?
BC probably cannot apply to traditional business for now but it’ll force us to think in a different way, maybe like Agile did with its profound mindset change. Perhaps it’s ok to expect the same reaction to BC from the majority of people as when we explain for the first time what Agility is about…”So? What does this mean in practice?”.