The Empire Strikes Back: The End of Agile as We Know It?

Jeffry S. Babb, Jacob Nørbjerg, David J. Yates, Leslie J. Waguespack

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article in journalResearchpeer-review


Agile methods have co-evolved with the onset of rapid change in software and systems development and the methodologies and process models designed to guide them. Conceived from the lessons of practice, Agile methods brought a balanced perspective between the intentions of the stakeholder, the management function, and developers. As an evolutionary progression, trends towards rapid continuous delivery have witnessed the advent of DevOps where advances in tooling, technologies, and the environment of both development and consumption exert a new dynamic into the Agile oeuvre. We investigate the progression from Agile to DevOps from a Critical Social Theoretic perspective to examine a paradox in agility – does an always-on conceptualization of production forestall and impinge upon the processes of reflection and renewal that are also endemic to Agile methods? This paper is offered as a catalyst for critical examination of and as a call to action to advocate for sustaining and nurturing reflective practice in Agile and post-Agile methods, such as DevOps. Under threat of disenfranchisement and relegation to automation, we question how evolution towards DevOps may alter key elements in the tenets and principles of the Agile methods phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalIRIS: Selected Papers of the Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia
Pages (from-to)44-59
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe 40th Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia: IRIS 2017 - Østfold University College, Halden, Norway
Duration: 6 Aug 20179 Aug 2017
Conference number: 40


ConferenceThe 40th Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia
LocationØstfold University College
OtherThe 8th Scandinavian Conference on Information Systems (SCIS8) will be held in parallell, sharing program, venue, social events and keynotes with IRIS40.
Internet address


  • Agile methods
  • Continuous delivery
  • Critical social theory
  • DevOps
  • Iteration pressure
  • Learning
  • Reflective practice

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