Agile Quotes (from Twitter), Second Set

Scott Duncan
13 min readFeb 10, 2022


Back when I was writing my Old Blogs, I saved Tweets that, at the time, struck me as interesting when they appeared. The list was originally published in pieces as the total became quite long. long. So I’ll be reposting these in pieces to avoid posting a single list of dozens of pages.

Some quotes are not from Twitter users, but quotes other Twitter users thought were interesting from authors, philosophers, etc. There’s even a few here of my own. In some cases, there are follow-ups combined with the original.

This second set goes from “D” through the “I”s.

Dale Emery — Passion and respect are not inherently at odds, though they can seem to be if you don’t know how to express both at once.

Dale Emery — The values (then the principles, then the practices) stand at the brink and wave goodbye as the name moves on. Michael Bolton — I said a couple years back that Agile hasn’t crossed the chasm; it’s mostly fallen in. But the name made it across.

Dan North — talk on learning at Better Software conf: “Use metrics as indicators, not targets.”

Dan Whelan — The Fifth Discipline and #systemsthinking has me thinking that agile/lean focuses too much on short-term value. Need to build learning orgs.

Daniel Elliott (via Bob Martin) — Cope suggests a surgeon who has washed his hands still needs to concentrate on the scalpel (or architecture in our case!)

Daniel Lapin (via Carlton Matthews) — The complacent are always conquered by the committed and the diffident are always defeated by the determined.

Daryl Kulak — Project estimating is just wishing to two decimal places.

Dave Nicolette — Velocity is a measure of a team’s capacity to deliver, not a measure of activity. But velocity depends on having fixed-length time-boxed iterations. For a continuous flow process, I prefer cumulative flow.

Dave Nicolette (again not from Twitter) — How many Elephant Points are there in the veldt? Let’s conduct a poll of the herds. Herd A reports 50,000 kg. Herd B report 84 legs. Herd C reports 92,000 lb. Herd D reports 24 head. Herd E reports 546 elephant sounds per day. Herd F reports elephant skin rgb values of (192, 192, 192). Herd G reports an average height of 11 ft. So, there are 50,000 + 84 + 92,000 + 24 + 546 + 192 + 11 = 142,857 Elephant Points in the veldt. The average herd has 20,408.142857143 Elephant Points. We know this is a useful number because there is a decimal point in it.

Dave Pembs — Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Dave Ramsey (via Carlton Matthews and @E-Mealz) — When your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep becomes your downfall.

Dave Rooney — Agile is a collection of those ‘things that work’ put together in a synergistic way… whole is greater than sum of parts.

Dave Rooney — Easier to make something small bigger, but not opposite. Scott Duncan — Yes…one of my main methodology pts! And also encourages what do I need to do better” thinking as opposed to “what do I want to throw out or get away without doing”. Dave Rooney — Absolutely! By nature we’re methodology “pack rats”, loathe to get rid of any artifact or procedure “in case we need it”!

Dave Rooney — Fair enough… knowledge is indeed power. Scott Duncan — And applied knowledge is powerful. I think more people know what to do than do it. How to transmit belief plus knowledge?

Dave Rooney — Yup — that’s my business model!! :) Beginners are in the “shu” stage — I get them to “ha” and they fire me when they attain “ri”.

Dave Rooney (in response to Rachel Davies saying you need “some optimism” to coach teams — “Some optimism”? That’s the understatement of the year…so far! :) Rachel replied — you’re right :) you need shed loads of hope & optimism to keep coaching agile teams. Seeing teams in action helps generate it! Then Dave said — Not unlike golf… you play ‘crappily’ but have one good hole near the end of the round that gets you out one more time! :)

David Alfaro — “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” So true! Docs=Potential Knowledge [hardly unleashed], People=Kinetic Knowledge.

David Alfaro — You will be amazed how powerful is to switch the immediate reaction “I disagree” to “I don’t see it, help me see it”

David Anderson — @flowchainsensei the problem with Deming is folks refuse to believe that he’s relevant to the knowledge work century. :-S Bob Marshall — @agilemanager True. Although I think that opinion’s ltd to those (few) who’ve ever heard of him :-S And fewer want to own ways of working

David Anderson — I find risk management is poorly executed. This is why I am going after it next as a root cause of #agile adoption failure. J.B. Rainsberger — Do you find risk management a sizable bottleneck? From here, it looks like not focusing on value limits everything. David Anderson — value is a complex notion. Board room wants predictable ROI more than revenue or profit maximization. if you ask “would you like more value?” answer: “yes”. if you ask “would you like more value at risk of less predictable outcome?” answer: “No!” #agile appears to give less predictable outcome as traditional gives (false) impression of predictability. Hence #agile == risky! to remove this impediment we must show that #agile manages risk better than traditional to deliver more predictable outcome. J.B. Rainsberger — For most teams, most of the time, volatility of the cost of features depends on the design. Improve the design, less volatile. David Anderson — if you are using design to include analysis classification and architecture then i agree with you. Lean product design uses analysis classification & product architecture to design for variability/volatility. J.B. Rainsberger — I consider “architecture” simply to be design-in-the-large, and I don’t know the term “analysis classification”. I more mean that the crappier the design, the more the marginal cost of a feature depends on the state of the design…. Dan Whelan — I think of architecture as design decisions that are expensive to change. David Anderson — agree architecture is design-in-the-large. good analysis can classify functionality into areas of the design.

David Anderson — in next decade aim to change focus to “manage rules of game” not “manage work” or “manage people” — Deming system design.

David Anderson — Kaizen done right is statistically based systems analysis often using SPC. Diana Larsen — Retros done right get at diff probs than SPC — esp human issues & + deviance. Well-run retrospectives incl subjective & objective data, as relevant to retro focus, + analysis & action. David Anderson — retros tend to project level focused. higher maturity orgs will have an organization level focus across teams/projects. This is not guidance or opinion. This is field reported cases. You need to be open to ask why? and challenge your beliefs. Paul Dyson (via Rachel Davies) — Like all agile practices (or practices in general), there is a risk of ‘cargo cult execution’ with retrospectives.

David Anderson — TPS yes! Lean (Womack, Jones, Daniels) No! A theory of variation is missing from core Lean literature. So not Deming.

David Hussman — “what do you call a stand-up meeting with too many people? A stand-there meeting”

David Hussman — Challenge people to share their experiences instead of their opinions.

David Hussman — Detailed requirements are poorly written tests or what I call “tests in disguise”.

David Hussman — I find it interesting that software people tend to talk about “training” where educators talk about “teaching”. Your thoughts are welcome. Ron Jeffries — training is possible, teaching is not. neither word is good. one can, at best, provide an occasion where learning is possible.

David Hussman — Many companies need to slow down to get more done.

David Hussman — Sometimes Twitter seems like the world first and largest virtual fortune cookie.

David Hussman: Project communities are bonded by common goals not by percentage of availability on org charts.

David Joyce — Toyota manager induction doesn’t take place in a room but instead 12 weeks are spent in the work being coached on how to solve problems.

David Platt — via Michael Bolton “Your user is not you. Most people don’t want to DRIVE somewhere, they want to BE somewhere.”

David Updike — Speed is a by-product of #agile however the goal is the right product, not the wrong product done faster.

Dawn Cannon — The purpose of planning is not to prevent uncertainty, but rather to plan how to deal with uncertainty.

Deborah Hartmann Preuss — Toyota competency levels:: Assisted, Independent, Can make changes, Coach. #AgileOpen Thx! I like those levels!

Declan Whelan — I tire of people saying we were successful w/o agile as if success is binary. Agility fosters the ability to expand success.

Declan Whelan — I’ve had negative comments from mgrs and teams be de-motivated by unrealistic diagonal lines on burn-down charts. I do see the value of line in highlighting continuous flow. I find the shape of real actual curve sufficient for this, i.e. focus team on making curve flatter rather than having curve track to some ideal line. Deborah Hartmann Preuss — I have teams reflect on their own sprint “signatures” over time — improving? repeating same mistakes? Aim is consistency. I find that sprint burndown w/o task board is much less useful (& less used). If had to choose: task board. Lisa Crispin — I’m not a fan of burndown charts. Prefer task or kanban type board, visually you can see what tasks/types remain to be done. Scott Duncan — “focus team on making curve flatter” Flatter relative to what? Wouldn’t that be some baseline even if it isn’t drawn on the graph? “unrealistic diagonal line” I spend time coaching/training on what lines means, use of burndown, etc. Haven’t had the issue. Declan Whelan — Flatter in that tangent of curve remains constant — i.e. only relative to itself. Perhaps splitting hairs ;).

Declan Whelan‏@dwhelan Technical debt is the accumulation of organizational misalignment over time. Your system is talking back …. listen!

Dee Hock (via Wally Bock)- “Haste never made time and waste never made abundance.”

Delavigne & Rob (via Glyn Lumley) — “We want to get Deming off the quality shelf and have him recognised for his contributions to a unique philosophy of life”

Derek Wood — Any accommodation we make to doing Scrum well is indicative of an impediment that will need to be resolved at some point.

Derrick Bailey — if you don’t learn fr waste/rework, it’s not only waste/rework, its complete failure. i expect learning fr waste/rework.

Don Reinertsen (on “value”) — Economic view also allows Gilb’s subjective dimension. A thirsty man will pay more for what is objectively the same water.

Doug Shimp — A well formed team often can solve problems faster than the surrounding business is able to apply.

Doug Shimp — Build your team protocols one at a time. Pay attention and adapt based on realities encounter and don’t assume what is needed.

Doug Shimp — Great individual talent is often not enough. We need teams that are talented & humble enough 2 work together.

Doug Shimp — If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.

Doug Shimp — Scrum often reveals that the business is not able to figure out which problems to solve.

Dr. Seuss (via Mike Cottmeyer) — “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Earl Everett — Scrum is not the name of the ‘ball game’, it’s rugby. Played well, rugby is a very agile game, mentally & physically. Scott Duncan — True, but once you’re asked where the word comes from, Rugby gets dragged into the discussion, unfortunately. But your point is good in that I think we should move the conversation from game to qualities as you describe. Earl Evertt — Also, rugby is a highly collaborative and fluid game, and leadership comes from different people at different times. Scott Duncan — Unlike many sports we get to see in the USA, Rugby is very much a team game. Even moreso than football/soccer, I think.

Ed Yourdon — David Stephenson makes key point (at #e2conf1): “make customers co-creators”

Elizabeth Hendrickson — (On exercises about learning to learn) Simple & meta: have groups work together to solve a puzzle of some kind & debrief how they learned?

Elizabeth Hendrickson — It is hard to Speak the Truth, and speak it diplomatically enough to be heard, when people want Comforting Lies.

Elizabeth Hendrickson — Many have said this before. I’ll say it again anyway: Source code, like inventory, is a liability, not an asset. Dave Rooney — Not sure I agree. Source code that hasn’t been shipped to production is indeed inventory. Afterwards, it’s documentation. Brian Foote — Tell us more. It would follow then that you feel that reusing source is like reusing diapers, noble sounding, but impractical. Chet Hendrickson — Good code can be a capital resource. 1 that allows us to build things of value. But it must be treated as one otherwise… Elizabeth Hendrickson — Consider: mgr insists on keeping 1/2-done feats in code base despite drag on productivity b/c they’re “too valuable” to toss. Chet Hendrickson — reminds me of my grandfather’s box of broken electric drills. He didn’t need a new one, he had 5 already. I don’t think it’s all that audacious. Consider inventory as liability from a manufacturing perspective:

Elizabeth Hendrickson — Seems to me that prof testers do 4 things well: observe, notice what can be varied, predict risks, & explore methodically.

Elizabeth Hendrickson (reported by Chris Sterling at PNSQC) — “The definition of Agile is in the results” (deliver value frequently at sustainable pace) “Flexibility is a side-effect of being agile.”

Elizabeth Hendrickson -Trying to test the depths of the code thru the UI is like peering through the shower head to examine pipes in the basement.

Engelina Jaspers of H-P (my post on WSJ interview) — On change: “Reason drives the decision, but emotion will drive the action”

Eric Hoffer (via Steve Freeman) — “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

Esther Derby — having leadership strengths != being “the leader.” teams need _leadership_ which can come from diff ppl at dif times.

Esther Derby — managers are designers of the experience of work.

Esther Derby — Myths about pay: Labor rate = labor cost. Labor rate is easy to count; labor cost, not always so easy. Definitely not the same thing.

Esther Derby — primary work of managers: establish conditions for teams to work in. develop people. work on the work system.

Esther Derby — Resistance = “Other people are not doing things I want them to do w/ the speed or enthusiasm that I desire.”

FunnyOneLiners — It’s not easy taking my problems one at a time when they refuse to get in line.

G. K. Chesterton (via Jason Yip) — There are two ways to get enough: One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.

G. Morein (pointed to from, but not on, Twitter) — Failure is less about being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but rather a necessary part of achieving innovation or some type of creative or complex pursuit.

G.M. Weinberg — CENTER means know your own agenda and motivations. Get control of yourself first, so you can genuinely be of service to someone else. ENTER means you must enter someone else’s system to help them. You can’t bash your way in, and you can’t force them to see things as you do. TURN means that we think in terms of making a nudge here and there. We can’t expect to transform someone. They self-transform, if at all.

G.M. Weinberg — Instead of thinking, ‘irrational’, think ‘rational from the perspective of a different set of values.

Gary Hamel (from a retweet by Bob Marshall) — “In the absence of purpose, only thing that will disrupt the status quo is pain.”

George Dinwiddie — “Talk to the card” We found that focus on the card wall helped bring focus to the standup.

George Dinwiddie — Carpenters don’t argue whether a hammer or saw is the better tool. Why Lean vs Agile vs Kanban? Goal is to build a house. Tim Ottinger — Carpenters do argue about Case v. Cat v. Deere v. Holland. Also, saw v. hammer is clear-cut. flow v. piulse is harder. Scott Duncan — Carpenters don’t argue hammer vs saw since they can’t do the other’s job. Individuals sure have their fav hammers, though.

George Dinwiddie — Yes, it’s a pity. With mechanical products, the customer can admire the design and workmanship. Estimate long term value.

George Dinwiddie ‏@gdinwiddie .@henebb @davenicolette @JasonKerney Like all estimates, they should be treated as hypotheses to be tested.

Gerald Weinberg — Definition of Bureaucracy: Each thing is in control, but everything is out of control.

Gerald Weinberg ‏@JerryWeinberg Good #programmers know what to write. Great ones know what to rewrite (and reuse) — Eric Raymond

Gia Lyons — Marketing = Matchmaker. Sales = Dating. Services = Marriage. Support = Marriage Counseling.

Gloria Steinem (via Suhas Walanjoo) — The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.

Glyn Lumley — Anybody’s job should not merely be to “do it right” but to do it better.

Glyn Lumley — The manner in which employees treat customers is determined, in part, by the norms for handling internal conflict and frustration.

Grant Rule — A key question is: how do we encourage people to stop shouting “Make it so!” and instead ask “Why is it so?”

Greg Vaughn — Agile offers more control. But you have to give up the illusion of predictability.

Hannu Kokko — Partial conditions of satisfaction for a demo: understandable, valuable for customer, wow-factor, shows progress

Henrik Kniberg — In Scrum, the Scrum Master’s role is to create a great Team, and the Product Owner’s role is to use that team to create a great Product.

Henry Ford (via Deborah Hartmann Preuss) — “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said ‘a faster horse.’” Dale Emery — Maybe Ford didn’t know to ask the next question: “If u had a faster horse, what would that do for u?”

Herm Albright — A positive attitude may not solve all your problems but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

Hillel Glazer — Consultant <> Contractor. Ensure you’re being hired as a consultant, not a contractor, are you there to create outcomes or outputs?

Hillel Glazer — Real engineers *do* like GOOD processes. Those that don’t are posers. If you made it through college/university w/out any processes you probably weren’t in an engineering school. Check your diploma.

Hillel Glazer (heard at SE{G NA) — Proposal to add a new value to manifesto: “we value improvement over compliance”

Ian E. Savage — Certifications are only as good as the certifying agency. Got it. Let’s move on, shall we.

Igor Macaubus — “Rules and procedures can be an insurance policy against disaster, and they prevent disaster. But they also assure mediocrity.”

Immanuel Kant — Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another.