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What do Vegetarians and Agilists have in common?

Reading: What do Vegetarians and Agilists have in common?

What do some vegetarians and some agilists have in common? It sounds like the setup of a bad joke, doesn’t it?  Actually, some believe their practice is best and you are wrong for doing things differently.  Well, at least that’s my first hand experience.

Over the weekend, I overheard a conversation while we were dining out.

So-and-so isn’t a real vegetarian. She eats fish.

It was a little deja vu to me.  Just days earlier I overheard a similar conversation.

So-and-so isn’t really doing Scrum.  They use a Product Owner team.

So, what’s our deal?  Should I stop eavesdropping on people or should we address why we get so protective of what we think of as a textbook example of something?  Who’s keeping score?  There seems to be a fear the vegetarian police or the Scrum police are going to be knocking on doors any day, demanding people stop saying they are vegetarians or agilists.  Sure, I get it. You’re disciplined. You’re passionate about being a vegetarian or passionate about Scrum. But why do we have to be police and not ambassadors?


A vegetarian diet is derived from plants, with or without eggs or dairy. Varieties include: Ovo, Lacto, Ovo-lacto, Veganism, Raw veganism, Fruitarianism,…  Those with diets containing fish or poultry may define meat only as flesh from a mammal and may still identify with vegetarianism.  Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons, including objection to eating meat out of respect for critters.  Other reasons include religion, health-related, it looks cool, can’t afford it, or plain old personal preference.  At the end of the day, to each his or her own.


An agilist believes in a set of values and principles (originally for software development) in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between members of cross-functional teams. These teams pull work from a prioritized backlog and provide a demonstrable product increment on a regular interval. It promotes value focused adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change. Agile methods can be adopted for different reasons, including the solution is not yet fully defined, our organization says we’re going to follow the practices, we accept the mindset, or it looks cool.  In the end, the framework or methodology really doesn’t matter


Before you go off and point your finger at someone and claim they are not a real vegetarian or agilist, stop and think about why they are doing either.  In the end, why are you doing it?  Often, I see the similarities will outway the differences. I see many wanting to benefit from a practice but then have to operate within a constraint. I think that’s what prevents many of us from being extremists and I’m quite happy with that.  I actually like the diversity.

Perhaps there should be a 13th principal added to the manifesto.

13.  Acceptance of similarities of practices over judgement of differences

As noted earlier, we need a lot fewer police and a lot more ambassadors.

Next 5 Fallacies of Enterprise Agile Transformation

Comment (1)

  1. Hoang N.

    Very interesting comparison, I would say!
    It is true that nowadays, people judge other people of not being “authentic” based on certain rules. They seem to believe being “vegetarian” means you have to follow every single criterion, such as not eating any kind of meat, including fish. However, what they do not know is that in some cultures, eating fish does not mean that you are not vegetarian.
    The same concept happens to people who want to be an “agilist”. From my understanding, being agile means you have to adapt to every situations, be flexible, and welcome changes. With that mindset, I think people should be open-minded to those who claim that they are agilists but only apply some of the agile methodologies. Even though they only pick up a few methods, it already helps the agile community spread their influences and let more people know about agile. The more people know and apply, the more chances you can get to improve the agile methods. This can benefit everyone and this is what we should encourage people to do.


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