White Paper: Agile Wars

Agile Wars: And How to Avoid Them

At the heart of agile, we value “individuals and interactions above processes and tools” and yet for many years, the various agile approaches appear to have been at war with one another. All too often, agile is offered as a binary choice “you are either agile or not-agile”, together with the recommendation that one agile approach (usually the one being “sold in”) is all you need. We have also often seen a move to oust the established agile approach with a different flavour of agile, regardless of how well the incumbent agile approach is working – a “my agile is better than yours” mentality. This all seems a long way from our original intention that agile should be a collaborative, cooperative (and pragmatic) approach, targeted at delivering the best solution for the customer.

A different way of thinking:

Let’s look at this from a different starting point. Why would you limit your choice to a single agile approach, when there is an opportunity to create a “best of breed” for your organisation by blending agile approaches together? Every organisation is unique, although there will always be groups of organisations which face similar issues. So it is unlikely that the same single agile approach will be equally suitable for a technology-focused software house, a complex product organisation, a global pharmaceutical organisation, an engineering manufacturing organisation, and a small start-up company.

Even inside a complex corporate organisation, the style of agile may differ between different areas, as the issues faced are entirely different. We have run agile transformations in large complex corporate organisations for many years, and for the vast majority of these the optimal solution is to create a “blended agile” approach – to ensure that the style of agile being used addresses the specific issues for that particular organisation.

The starting point:

In order to make informed decisions, a good starting point is to have a simple view of the pros and cons of the various agile approaches. Although there are now probably 100 different agile “flavours”, We are going to focus here on the most commonly adopted ones, and highlight some of the obvious strengths and weaknesses. This white paper is intended as a simple starting point to support decision-making for those who are not agile experts. It is not intended as a detailed, comprehensive analysis of each agile approach.

Read the full white paper:


Barbara Roberts

Barbara Roberts

Agile Transformation Coach

Barbara has been actively involved in agile from its inception. She believes strongly that choosing the right agile approach or combination of agile approaches is a key factor for success. Barbara is well-known for her pragmatic, common-sense approach to agile, and has led many successful agile transformations with organisations from all business sectors, often in highly regulated environments. Barbara was also previously director of the Agile Business Consortium.

Agile Business Consortium

Agile Business Consortium

The Agile Business Consortium is the professional body for business agility. We’re all about community – whether you’re a multinational working through a large-scale transformation, a new start-up, or a contractor, we can support you to achieve more, to grow more, and to build your business agility. As a global not-for-profit organisation that’s been around for over 25 years, our knowledge and experience around agile competencies and behaviours can offer you the guidance you need to reach your agility goals. Together with our partners, we create and share agile research, case studies, resources and tools that help you compete in today’s uncertain world. A registered not-for-profit, we’re the world’s longest-standing agile-orientated organisation. We’re the brains behind AgilePM®, AgileBA®, AgilePgM®, AgilePfM™ and AgileDS™. Based in the UK, we have members in over 30 countries around the world.


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