Sundarrajk's Weblog

Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

In ​​this very thoughtful article the author illustrates why agile way of working has not been very successful in Asia. It is a sad reflection on the state of affairs. While the author has not taught in India and has not quoted this to be an explicit problem it is should not be difficult for us to extend the same reasoning for India.
​The top reasons that the writer quotes are
​1. Hierarchy rules roost in Asia. As a corollary one does not defy one’s superior in the hierarchy. This leads to the expectation “People expect to be told what to do and people want to tell other people what to do because that is how the system works”. This is apparent. Many projects where the client controls every design and tells us how to code we are OK, but the moment the client says go ahead and give me an application that does this work for me, we are lost as the babes in the wood. This is one of the key reasons many of the projects that we carry out for our Indian clients fail to succeed and if they do so it is only after a lot of struggle and bitterness between the various stakeholders. This is one of the reasons that none of the big IT companies in India have any significant product.
​2. Let’s keep things in harmony. Not only are we not open to saying no or suggesting a different way of doing things to our superior, we do not even voice our opinion amongst our peers especially the loud mouthed ones and the ones who are favoured by the superior. This attitude is partly due to our fear of losing our jobs. We do not have the confidence that if we do fit into an organization where we can speak our minds let us look elsewhere. Traditionally too we are brought up to avoid conflicts. The typical reaction of a parent is “Oh! OK that boy bullies you, stay away from him”. Also our managers do not wish to hear of any problems, they want to have solutions and further the solution should be executed by the one who has suggested it not matter that it happens to be the duty of somebody else to do it.
​3. The third reason is a damnation of our educational system “Asian education system is all about high grades and ranks, not about experimenting, self-discovery and making mistakes, which is what Agility is all about.” How very true. We kill creativity right from the nursery. See the wonderful TED ​talk by Ken Robinson where he criticises the American education system for killing creativity, I shudder to think what he will have to say of our educational system. No rote learning is going to help us become good programmers. We may get all the certifications (and hence my disbelief in any certification) that is required to prove our credentials as programmers (Oracle Certification, Java Certification etc.), as managers (PMP, Prince etc), as architects (TOGAF etc) as IT process organizers (ITIL, Agile, Scrum etc) but none matter as most of us have only learnt the theory by rote and have nary an experience and are absolutely zilch when coming to practising the principles laid out in them.
​4. The fourth reason is the clichéd last straw on the camel’s back. It says “outsourcing” is one of the reasons. The work is outsourced to reduce cost. As one pays less and less one gets lesser and lesser experienced, lesser and lesser quality people to work. Again this is out in open for everybody in the IT industry to see, only we do not acknowledge it. This is another reason why we can almost never develop a product of our own. Chetan Bhagat was not wrong when he stated that we are preparing a generation of not so intelligent people by pushing many towards the call centers.