I was only able to read the summary of the article the post was responding to, but after watching Erik’s presentation about how Agile is complete shit and should die (I’m paraphrasing, but I think it’s a reasonable summary: http://vimeo.com/110554082), I can guess that many of the points being made are one and the same.
I recently took the edX Intro to Functional Programming course Erik led, and found him to be an incredibly talented computer scientist, programmer, and educator, and I really love his philosophy regarding programming languages. But he tends towards the hyperbolic and I think he is throwing out the baby with the bathwater here (I can’t speak to his co-author Vikram Kapoor, again I’m more responding to the video than the referenced article).
There is a lot of dogmatism (and, cynically, money to be made off of that) when it comes to software development process and in particular in the culture of so-called Agile development. But there is also a lot of value there, and the Agile manifesto, for all of the bullshit it has spawned, remains a succinct and reasonable set of guiding principles for doing software development. If anything it’s too vague to really be considered prescriptive of any one practice (and ironically it does eschew process explicitly in the first statement).
What happens when you let “first-rate hackers” go to town and get stuff done? Well, if they are not dysfunctional, hopefully they–and the rest of the members of the team who aren’t programmers, assuming the software is intended to be used by people–create some semblance of a process. The problem is when those practices become ossified and we become slaves to them, which I think is what Erik is so dramatically railing against in the video I linked to above.
I understand his perspective, but I think the truth is somewhere in between. The challenge is to build a process that provides useful structure without being afraid to modify or challenge it when it’s obviously not working. This is difficult, but the alternative–no structure whatsoever–is even harder to deal with.