F**k Agile

Why This Popular Methodology Is Holding Your Product Back

Methodologies like Agile have become the go-to framework for many teams aiming to adapt to changing requirements and deliver high-quality products. However, it’s time to have an honest conversation about the limitations of Agile and how, in some cases, it might be holding your product back. It is no secret in the world of product that certain original components of product development have been shelved or fallen out of favour (Agile coach for example!). Also the strict adherence to product development frameworks such as scrum has morphed into a more flexible approach. So what’s the deal? Is Agile damaging your product teams?

The Agile Appeal:

Agile methodology emerged as a response to the rigid structures of traditional project management. Its emphasis on flexibility, collaboration, and iterative development resonated with teams eager to escape the shackles of waterfall methods. The promise of frequent deliveries and continuous improvement made it a beacon of hope for those striving to keep up with the dynamic demands of modern business.

The Pitfalls of Agile:

  1. Overemphasis on Speed: Agile’s commitment to rapid iterations can sometimes lead to a dangerous obsession with speed at the expense of quality. Teams may find themselves sacrificing crucial aspects such as thorough testing and thoughtful design in their pursuit of meeting tight deadlines. I’ve seen this countless times where speed has led to the construction of wildly unrealistic product roadmaps. This means that teams rarely meet their unrealistic stretch goals and become demoralised and start to question not only the roadmap and strategy but also their place within the agile framework.
  2. Misguided Priorities: The Agile manifesto encourages customer collaboration over contract negotiation, but in practice, it can inadvertently prioritise short-term client satisfaction over long-term product success. This focus on immediate needs may lead to a neglect of the bigger picture and the product’s overall strategic goals. Bizarrely this means that instead of Agile allowing an organisation to become product-led (surely the right goal?) the company will in fact be sales or client led. This might bode well in the short term but is not a strategy that leads to long term company survival.
  3. Lack of Documentation: While Agile promotes working software over comprehensive documentation, the absence of thorough documentation can hinder knowledge transfer and make it challenging for new team members to understand the project’s history, decisions, and underlying architecture. In fact the emergence of product ops is very much contrary to this part of the Agile Manifesto with products such as Confluence promoting the detailed methodology and process of many product teams. Notion is also a place where teams have decided to scope out detailed approaches to their development projects. In truth this is a complex issue. I’ve seen far too many presentations and lengthy PRDs in the past few years which CAN in fact hinder releases to market. The jury’s out a little here.
  4. Resistance to Change: Ironically, Agile teams can sometimes become resistant to change outside the scope of their predefined iterations. This resistance can stifle innovation and prevent teams from adapting to emerging trends or technologies that could significantly benefit the product. This is something I have witnessed over the past ten years where teams have been forced into rigid working parameters. Those product owners and managers under the leadership of Agile biased managers have often found that their visionary ideas have been sidelined to allow for the processes of old to remain in place. 

A Call for Evolution:

It’s essential to acknowledge that Agile is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead of discarding it entirely, consider adapting and evolving your approach to better suit the unique needs and challenges of your product and team.

  1. Balancing Speed and Quality: Strive for a healthy balance between speed and quality. Recognise that rapid development is valuable, but not at the expense of a robust and sustainable product. Regularly reassess and adjust your priorities based on the evolving needs of your project. 
  2. Strategic Decision-Making: While customer collaboration is crucial, ensure that your decisions align with the long-term vision of your product. Keep the bigger picture in mind, and don’t let short-term client demands divert your team from the strategic path.
  3. Documentation as a Compass: Embrace the idea that some level of documentation is necessary for the continuity and success of your project. Use documentation as a tool to guide future decisions, onboarding new team members, and understanding the rationale behind past choices.
  4. Embrace Change Beyond Iterations: Foster a culture that welcomes change beyond the confines of Agile sprints. Encourage your team to stay informed about industry trends and emerging technologies, and be open to incorporating them into your product when it makes sense.


It’s time to move beyond a rigid adherence to Agile methodology and embrace a more flexible, adaptive approach. By critically assessing its limitations and evolving your practices accordingly, you can ensure that your product development is not held back by a one-size-fits-all mindset. Embrace change, prioritise quality, and keep your eyes on the long-term success of your product.

As a product leader be fearless in your convictions and remember that what has gone before might not be right for your organisation. Remember that tons of product start-ups fail even though they ‘do everything right’. There is NOT a RIGHT way to necessarily do things despite what a million product strategy books will tell you. Only by doing, failing and working out what works will ultimately help you find the right path.