Agile needs a more agile mindset – and the end of the Method Wars

Okay this blog post will be less pragmatic than my usual ones, but I need to get this off my chest. Why do I encounter so many Agilists that are less agile in mind than many of the PMs I know who work on Waterfall projects? Does any of this sound familiar to you and drive you as mad as it does me:

  • “This is not true Agile”
  • “This is not called a User Story it’s a PBI (or vice versa)”
  • “Method X is not Agile, Method Y is much more agile”
  • “Sprints need to be x days long and not any longer”

I have even heard that some methodologies prevent people with their highest trainer certifications from being certified in other methods. I cannot confirm this, but if true it is madness in my view.

This reminds me of all the passion and silliness of this scene from Monthy Python’s Life of Brian:

Let’s make one thing clear: There is no award for being Agile according to any one Agile method. This level of dogma is completely unnecessary and is taking too much energy in Agile discussions.

What we are trying to do is deliver better solutions faster. And all the methods and tools out there are for us to combine to achieve that. Of course when you are not mature you should follow one of the methods more strictly to get used to the new way of working and then later combine it with other elements (Shu Ha Ri is a common concept we use to explain this). We should focus on that. I appreciate that it is often harder to measure outcomes than compliance to a specific method, but it’s worth it.

So if you encounter an Agile coach that is dogmatic or only follows one method and speaks disrespectful of all others, be careful. He might be able to help you a few steps of the journey, but you should look for someone more open minded to help you in the long term.

There are a lot of good talks/articles out there that challenge our “folklore” of software delivery, I find it extremely interesting to read about people who diverge from the “scripture” and do research to prove or disprove what we think we know. A couple of examples:

If you know of more examples, let me know. I love it when concepts get challenged.

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