Agile means no accountability? Since when?

Jason Yip
Jan 28, 2024


Let’s start from the stereotypical Agile team using cards on a wall. Pairs sign up for stories and use picture avatars that they stick on the story card they’re working on.

3 columns TODO, In Progress, Done with index cards under each. Arrows pointing to these columns saying: “Clear what is done, what is in progress, and what hasn’t been started”. The In Progress cards have avatars on them. An arrow pointing to this saying “Clear who’s working on what”
Stereotypical cards on a wall for an Agile team

Accountability is clear. If you want to know who’s working on something, look at the avatar. If there’s a story card with no avatars, it means no one’s working on it.

Let’s scale this up.

Multiple teams. Some dependencies. Unclear who is working on the dependencies. If you want to know who to talk to about a dependency, there’s no clear way to tell.

“What’s the status on our dependency? Who’s working on it?” “Oh, we don’t provide that because we’re agile.”
“We don’t provide that because we’re agile.”

This is “Agile” how?



Jason Yip

Senior Manager Product Engineering at Grainger. Extreme Programming, Agile, Lean guy. Ex-Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl