back to article IBM gives Services staff until 2019 to get agile

IBM has told its Services workers to get agile – as in the development practice, not as in yoga – by the end of the year. Internal documents seen by The Register inform IBMers of a new program called: "New ways of working - Agile Values and Practices." This latest effort calls for all Big Blue services staff to quickly …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical c-suite idiots, trying to convert their entire organisation to use a methodology for software development.

    Its as if they look for a new way to make their organisation fail every day.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      They need to be told that Dilbert isn't a management manual.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. peterjames

      That's management talk for announcing there's going to be lots of redundancies - but they'll blame it on the ones 'unable to advocate for the customer'. Probably costs less than saying 'we messed up and owe you severance pay'.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll believe it when I see it

    My first experience with Agile was with IBM and I now realise that they know nothing about Agile. My overriding memory is the two month sprints.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll believe it when I see it

      My experience with IBM was my team not having computers for months and not being able to get licences for Rational. And the whole of Friday being on useless conference calls.

      Agile? Yeah I'll believe it when I see it...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'll believe it when I see it

        They needed me for 1-2 days. 6 months later, they were still discussing the paperwork. Project was cancelled.

      2. JLV

        Re: I'll believe it when I see it

        >not being able to get licences for Rational

        If that's Rational _ClearCase_ licenses project velocity quite likely perked up from their absence.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll believe it when I see it

      Did those start with an all day stand-up?

  3. Khaptain Silver badge

    What !!!

    "IBM has spent years telling the world that its Notes suite is as fine a collaboration environment as there is to be found anywhere"

    I had to "suffer" Notes for several years and it would be nigh on impossible to force me to return. Outlook/Exchange have their faults but at least they are extremely usable.

    Notes/Domino feels like a 1980s rebuff , it lack ergonomics, the interface is prehistoric, those tiles, how I hate those damned tiles..... It feels clunky, as if is was thrown together at the last moment...

    It should be killed of before it continues to provide further embarrassment for IBM.

    I would rather they reworked OS4 and put a serious contender to Windows on the market.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: What !!!

      I think you missed the part where it is stated that agile is supposed to not use email, thus hinting that IBM itself is flushing Notes down the toilet.

      You should be happy.

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge

        Re: What !!!

        Notes isn't email

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What !!!

      As a messaging platform, Notes was a good database.

      As a database, Notes was a good messaging platform.

      In truth, it was the worst of both worlds.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: What !!!

        In the absence of the Web, Lotus Notes was a very capable collaboration tool. Back in '97 my (then) employer automated all sorts of tedious tasks that still need emails and paper at my (current) employer living the Outlook dream in 2018.

        But as email system Notes felt clunky, and as a web server it felt outclassed, and with the advent of a million different thing-as-a-service it deserves an honourable funeral.

  4. Wolfclaw

    If IBM spent as much energy in actually running a business properly, they wouldn't be in the mess they are now. More money wasted on pen pushing, back slap exercise for management muppets !

  5. Aitor 1


    So they will use agile with de scrum masters being managers.. so not agile at all.

    The C Suite managers are the problem agile tries to sidestep...

  6. joeldillon

    A quick google suggests 'ceremony' is just an extremely stupid word for a meeting. So a standup is a 'ceremony'. You don't actually have to go up in front of a scrum master and have him dunk you in the river as you pledge your eternal soul to the Dark Lord K'Anban.

    Still. What the fuck is wrong with these people?

    1. HmmmYes



      Cereal bars.

      1. Erik4872

        Not being from London, I did some Googling. I see the first two items as part of the "Agile hipster with a MacBook covered in build tools stickers" set, but cereal bars?

    2. MyffyW Silver badge


      "This is why events unnerve me

      They find it all, a different story"

      - New Order, 1981

  7. Chairman of the Bored

    Obligatory link: Hitler teaches agile

    Absolutely NSFW

  8. HmmmYes

    Ive been asked about whether I follow Agile methods.

    I just say Yes.

    Then it gets left at that as no fucker knows what they are talking about.

  9. GruntyMcPugh

    Aha! Some manager ticks their deliverable box and everyone else suffers the current fad.

    So, previously, we had 10/10, Lean, GDF, then I left, now 'agile', which is a laugh. Nothing happens fast at IBM.

    Although the positive in this is the abandoning of Notes.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you can't say something nice

    Spend less time in email, work more collaboratively. Sounds like a good idea to me.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: If you can't say something nice

      And a 3 year program to document the procedural changes that will enable agile use of the existing processes without any changes

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So IBM is ditching email ?,

    How will the spam all the employees with the endless barrage of aren't we great emails that consume the 120Mb quota and kill productivity as you wade through them dailly. How will they notify the few remaining staff that they are in-scope for yet another Resource Action, oh and by the way Ginny's package is up another 30% this year.

    Oh, perhaps they will drag everybody into local ceremonies to force feed them yet another management bullshit video, wasting days of every productive employees life for no benefit.

    1. GruntyMcPugh

      fw: SPAM SPAM SPAM !

      jeez, there was endless cack forwarded to me via Notes. Usually a management cascade, and the scrolling to the bottom through several fw: fyi layers would often reveal that someone I didn't know had taken over a role I didn't know existed and the former occupier who I never communicated with was moving onto a role that sounded made up.

    2. Doctor Huh?

      Get Agile, OR ELSE!

      How will the spam all the employees with the endless barrage of aren't we great emails that consume the 120Mb quota and kill productivity as you wade through them daily?

      You've clearly never used Slack. It is more than up to the task of killing what little productivity one could achieve in a Big Blue environment.

      I used Slack in Big Blue. It was brilliant -- you could bother a single person through Notes, Sametime, Slack, and telephone almost simultaneously. You get extra points if you criticize a person for not responding on all 4 channels. Add in a few holdouts using IRC, and you really had a lovely mess.

  12. Missing Semicolon Silver badge


    .. is just the latest excuse for making the staff work long hour for free.

    "Sprint". My arse.

  13. handleoclast
  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please tell me another.

    Agile and IBM in the same sentence, that's the best laugh I've had since Valentine's day. In fact it qualifies for the Edinburgh joke of the year.

    AC because I'll Be Missed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please tell me another.

      It's simples for Services teams:

      - close all your tickets within SLA's (no action required, so no real change)

      - continue to provide over-engineered, exceptionally expensive "solutions" to customers requirements possible to avoid customers requesting solutions we can't deliver. Be "agile" in your responses by scheduling multiple meetings with the customer to gather requirements "rapidly" while continuing to deliver responses in 6+ months.

      - continue to deliver our high standard of customer service by responding in a non-committal manner to any customer request. Remember to forward any potential contractual issues to senior management to allow our lawyers to respond as quickly as possible. Our lawyers have followed the agile methodology for many years, sometimes responding before issues have even been identified.

      - do all the self-assessed training (exceptional colleagues can complete the training almost instantly...)

      - be Agile :)

      - act totally surprised while your customers continue to express frustration at the inability

      - get "resource actioned" if you're actually capable of doing anything to assist customers.

    2. John Styles

      Re: Please tell me another.

      There is a book by Jerry Kaplan about his experiences as CEO of Go corporation, who tried to do a Pen operating system.

      It was very much the classic Silicon Valley start-up before they became fashionable (in that it tore through a ton of money and then tanked) and it is quite well written.

      Anyway, at one point ***SPOILER*** they are given a choice by a big customer to go with HP or IBM and choose IBM. This inevitably causes the issues you would expect, but at one point IBM try to shaft Go and to get the customer to use, wait for it, Pen OS/2.

      The term 'Pen OS/2' always makes me chuckle every time I remember it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another bandwagon.

    They'll be promoting Blue Dollar as a block chain enabled crypto currency next.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another bandwagon.

      While some of the new entrants to the crypto currency market place look a little "short term" and "not based on anything other than hope", surely investors would realise that the only thing they might get out of IBM is the financial equivalent of haemorrhoids.

      Or is Blue Dollars IBM's latest solution to redundancy payments?

  16. sjsmoto
    Black Helicopters

    Exec One: "How can we fire programmers on a whim and get cheaper people in without a long ramp-up time?"

    Exec Two: "I just read something about Agile, it looks like a great way to dump and load."

    Exec One: "Great, let's make it a company initiative and pretend it's for those nitwits' benefit. Then we'll can them."

  17. Erik4872

    DevOps by Fiat (not the car manufacturer)

    This is symptomatic of a larger problem...fear of missing out by companies is forcing them to send in the management consultants and force-feed a "digital transformation" initiative on them. On the surface, it looks like another ITIL -- just buy a ticketing and change management system off the shelf and Bob's your uncle.

    What everyone is missing is that to do it right, you need a total culture change. I've only understood this in the past few months (and yes, I'm very late to the party, thanks for noticing.) I work at a non-IBM IT services company that's doing something similar, but IMO has a greater chance of actually succeeding. For me, being in systems engineering, the big hurdle has been the --WALL OF TOOLS-- that cloud the actual change that has to happen under the hood. Telling someone that they can't manually make a change, and instead have to feed it through a meat-grinder of CI/CD stuff, who has directly worked with systems their whole career, is a big mind-shift. The Devs have been in control of DevOps for the most part, and so everything is designed to make infrastructure go away. IT services people understand infrastructure and most don't do much software development beyond automating tasks. Meeting in the middle appears to be the key for systems people.

    The problem is that the culture change is pretty radical. IBM will have a very hard time, as would any company relying on resources nine time zones away who are pretty disinterested. The reason an "ideal" DevOps system works so well is because the ideal system is a 10-person startup, all in the same office, all understanding every aspect of the operation, and all working over 90 hours a week cranking out fixes and features. It's much harder to implement when your resources are all over the place, and in some cases you don't control them. It sounds like they're just trying to use this as an excuse to get rid of anyone still left in a high-cost country.

  18. DNTP
    IT Angle

    Are me agile

    I have over a decade of practice in contemporary unarmed combat and HEMA so I reckon I'm agile enough for IBM.

    Just kidding, all that gets me at work is being the guy they call to move furniture, fit into crawlspaces and climb up into ceiling access.

  19. disgruntled yank


    Perhaps best demonstrated by a quick jump to more stable employment?

    Though now I think of it, their HR personnel might regard themselves as Certified Scram Masters.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Re: agility

      "Certified Scram Masters"

      This! . . . . ^ ^ ^ ^

      What a wonderful way to characterize your previous employers. It says you know what it should have been, what it wasn't, and how happy you'll be to work with clued people.

    2. seacook

      Re: agility

      Was I the only one who read it as 'Certified Scam Masters'?

      1. The Boojum

        Re: agility


    3. Chairman of the Bored

      Re: agility

      @disgruntled yank,

      "Scram masters" - THAT is a truly wonderful turn of phrase, one I shall use every time I see yet another scram master leave moments before their nitrogenous waste hits the rotary aspirator. A pint, sir!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Holy Sh1t

    IBM is still around? Way to bury the lede.

  21. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Agile or Bust!

    By coincidence, received an email today with a reference to the following conference

    Agile Testing & BDD eXchange

    Apparently, they are looking for a new name for the conference.

    How about "Agile or Bust! Sponsored by IBM"

    (a nod to the 1969 film "Monte Carlo or Bust!")

  22. rotmos

    Fail-fast, again and again.

  23. FozzyBear

    IBM AGILE?????

    Bwha ha ha h ah ha ha ha ha ha

    ha ha ha ha


    [chuckle, snort].


    ha ha ha ha ha


    Bwha ha ha ha ha ha

    {oh crap I think i just pissed myself}

  24. rotmos

    They probably need to go through some mandatory really boring videos, answer some stupid questions and voila, they are agile! And get a silly badge labelled "Agile practioner" which they can publish on LinkedIn.

  25. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Hold on

    I admit that I've never seen Agile function well, but it seems that laying out 18 months of plans is not the right way to get started on it.

  26. a_yank_lurker

    Agile the philosophy or practice

    This will end in an epic failure. Agile, correctly done, is a philosophy and related approach to solving problems. It has been around for ages in many organizations who practice collaborate working with colleagues in other areas as needed coupled with cross functional meetings as needed to solve problems, etc. Agile as Itsy Bitsy Morons is doing it is a rigid practice that does not address the underlying corporate problems. The philosophy of Agile does not require formal Agile training or scrum masters (an idiotic term), it requires a mind set and a willingness to discuss issues and problems with your colleagues to solve problems.

    An aside, does being a retired rugby lock mean I am a scrum master?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Agile" - look for a new job

  28. Potemkine! Silver badge
  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If our idiot leaders spent half as much time actually working for a living rather than 'brainstorming' this lunacy, IBM would be a far better place to work.

    Every week its some new initiative you have to adopt, or some pointless mandatory compliance exercise.

    I'm guessing its just another poorly disguised attempt to get the workforce so pissed off they just leave of their own accord, thus saving IBM their measly statutory minimum redundancy payments.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where I work we have done scrumderfall since I joined. Basically waterfall with daily standups.

    Recently everyone in our department had to go through two days of Agile training. Now the most common phrase heard in the office is "I know its not agile but...."

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