Agile vs. The Methodology

Agile vs. The Methodology

QUESTION:

Here is a question that was asked me recently in one of my executive presentations: “What is a good Agile Methodology to use?

My Answer:

Here is what I continue to tell my students and all my other clients: “Agile” is not a methodology, it is an Organizational Philosophy, extending from the top of the organization to the bottom. Yes, we use Frameworks to allow us to be Agile, but these frameworks are not methodologies. They are adaptive patterns. A methodology is a Prescriptive process that we have been using in I.T. since the early 70’s as we attempted to get control of larger and larger developments. So we initiated the “Methodology” to control that. “Take 2 pills every 4 hours for 3 days and you will get better.” So, in I.T., we say this: follow this checklist (a.k.a this methodology) and you will be successful.

Not true! Never true! Winston Royce who came up with the “methodology” in 1972, and called it “waterfall”, under contract the American D.O.D., in 1978 wrote a paper and said this will never work, especially with larger projects. This paper was hidden by the D.O.D. and only came to light with the advent of the “internet:. The Philosophy of Agile is not Prescriptive but Adaptive. If you attempt to turn “Scrum” into a step by step methodology, you will fail. I am called in to advise many companies that are running Scrum perfectly, as to why their attempt at “Agility” is failing. My answer to them is by just “doing” scrum will not make you agile.

Recently, one organization asked me to help them install the Agile “Spotify Model.” Why? Because if Spotify is successful, all we have to do is emulate them. Spotify will tell you this, “There is no Spotify Model. What we do at Spotify works for us and probably no one else. It fits our environment, not yours.”

That is what you need to do with any “Framework” you use. Adapt it to your organization and “Make It Yours”. As Jeff Sutherland said recently in one of his podcasts, “We have intentionally left Scrum Incomplete. You must fir it into your environment, not your environment into Scrum. Adapt, adapt, adapt.

Agile vs. The Methodology

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