Currently working in an agile role (Scrum Master), where the core values of agile is Trust, respect, commitment and courage.

However, I am increasingly finding professionally that I am meeting fellow agilists who are doing a similar role that pretend they embrace these values but are more concerned about power, status and have massive egos.

For example:

  • I've seen in my current role, individuals who like the idea of being able to make influential decisions (in the name of continuous improvement) which impact many employees careers as opposed to doing the role with people's interest at heart.

    These Scrum Master's will act as team representatives and often make decisions either indirectly or directly without the team's consent.

  • Arrogant Agilists - one Scrum Master I work with for example gets very passive aggressive if he feels his agile ideas are being challenged which totally goes against the idea of openess.

  • I have also seen agile coaches who dictate and project agile 1000s of times in a patronising manner to the point people bicker about it. To then carry an attitude that if the team doesn't get it, it's not their problem and will go ahead and implement agile anyway by focusing on getting out of touch senior management to buy into it so that the team are forced to follow.

  • I have seen agilists not fairly challenging decisions if it means it impacts their status in the company negatively. Hence, I have been the victim of agilists unfairly trying to belittle my skillset in order to influence management over and further their career within the organisation as opposed to behaving in a supportive way.

In a moral dilemma now, where I am starting to re-think management/agile as a career profession.

The moral dilemma I have, can you climb the career ladder in this profession by acting straight forward, caring, honest and fair? Does agile work to promote a better environment or is it idealistic? I got into Agile because I truly felt it was a more supportive way of working, but it doesn't seem to be translating that way in practice.

  • I don't know that this is an answerable question from a stack exchange point of view. Yes there is plenty of "agile in name only" out there. There are also plenty of companies who have made the cultural change, not just the process change. It is not uncommon for people who take up an agile way of working to become dissatisfied with their current work environment. You may need to look around to find a place you are happy with.
    – Daniel
    May 26, 2019 at 14:57
  • Do you have any indication that those people would be team players in a non-agile environment? People will be people, "agile" is something that has to be filled with life and the company has to select the team it wants to have. If they opt to employ or empower ego's, it's time to fire the company, not give up on agile. I mean you would work with the exact same people if you did hardcore waterfall, wouldn't you?
    – nvoigt
    May 26, 2019 at 15:41
  • I ended up firing the company for the reasons you’ve mentioned. It irritates me how these people are pretending that they embrace agile values.
    – bobo2000
    May 26, 2019 at 17:31
  • "Trust, respect, commitment and courage" are not Agile values. They are, however, 3 of the 5 values of Scrum. Jun 24, 2019 at 7:47
  • @Venture2099 sure, not sure that being that pedantic matters since it is part of working in an agile way from inheriting those values as part of the framework you follow - Scrum, Kanban, whatever.
    – bobo2000
    Jun 24, 2019 at 10:10

3 Answers 3


Does agile work to promote a better environment or is it idealistic?

There are aspects of following the agile approach that promote a better environment, such as:

  • Bringing technical people closer to business people can result in a more rewarding environment
  • Doing frequent releases can be more satisfying as you get more opportunities to receive positive feedback
  • Empowered teams are hopefully less frustrated at work
  • Sustainable pace should also be more enjoyable and better for work/life balance

can you climb the career ladder in this profession by acting straight forward, caring, honest and fair?

This is a tough one to answer. A lot of organisations will be political and have a blame culture. It may well be that in these kinds of organisations agile values are not as useful when it comes to things like promotion, pay rises and bonuses.

However, in the right organisation you can certainly succeed by displaying these attributes. My personal experience has been that organisations that at least try to adopt agile are more likely to be like this.


I wonder if this is more a question of work life balance. Resilience can be pretty important. Sounds like you, yourself, maybe do believe that those things matter.

What's to say that if you went to a different workplace or profession that you wouldn't find the same attitude that you don't like.

I've seen Agile in a number of environments, and it seems to matter how its applied. I think it can be used in a good way. I've also seen it abused. I wouldn't throw in the towel over Agile. But Id consider the integrity of those around me. The pace of it can test that aspect of a personality, some people cant resist the opportunity to be loud.

Hers my suggestion. Strange as it may seem. Make time to do some volunteering and surround yourself with some good people on a regular basis to build resilience and keep going. If you, yourself, believe in it.


Sometimes it does. The problem with Scrum - is that some companies try to use it wrong. Scrum shouldn't be considered as some "magic pill". And the reason is that in some cases companies just can't use it in the way it's supposed to be used, e.g. the team size is too big or too small. Or there is no clear requirements, or the customer doesn't want to work by Scrum, or there is no scrum master in the team. Or scrum master doesn't understand their role in the team, simply justifying their ego. Sometimes the emploees are just not the team players, in this case it would be very hard to make something like scrum. At some point, Scrum is idealistic. It has rules, which some companies can't follow completely, just because of its culture or politics. It doesn't mean that it's wrong. But at first you should think, which way is useful to your company and helps it to grow, earn money, does it satisfy the team. You should analyze your company, sometimes trying to make things with agile/scrum you will fail, and it's not your fault, it's just not the suitable way. Try to find the team, which will accept all this values, or create your own. It's easier than trying to put agile/scrum in the place where it wouldn't be accepted.

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