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.