Avoid À la Carte Agile Approaches

Avoid À la Carte Agile Approaches

Some people like to pick and choose practices from different agile approaches  and mix them together with Waterfall. Unless you are experienced and understand the why behind the practice, this is unlikely to yield true business agility.

Don’t do it. That’s what I would always say.

This approach would be like if you lived a sedentary lifestyle and ate the wrong foods but then added Kale to your diet. Or if you began taking random vitamins in hopes they will somehow help your health. It’s not going to help.

Disciplined Agile Leverages the Cafeteria Approach to Pick Your Ways of Working

I wrote about Disciplined Agile a few months ago. I think there are a lot of good aspects of the Disciplined Agile Toolkit and things that can be helpful. Disciplined Agile leverages practices and techniques from Scrum, Kanban, Lean Startup, and Waterfall. So far, so good.

Then they recommend that teams Choose their WoW or way of working.

But what happens if those teams don’t know what to pick? What if they pick things that are in conflict? What if they rename their teams to squads to be like Spotify? What if they sprinkle a few agile practices like a Kanban board and daily standup meeting on top of waterfall, which is something I see all the time?

And I don’t want to sound like only agile practitioners or coaches like myself have all the answers. In fact, I do believe that every organization needs to run their own experiments and learn.

My caution is against picking and choosing and sprinkling agile techniques on to waterfall. And I am against cargo cult – simply copying what others have done and adding that on to your existing broken processes and expecting it to be better. Neither approach will lead to business agility.

So, Can Only the Experts Pick and Choose their Agile Ways of Working?

That’s the tricky part. Experts mostly got to be experts by learning from others and learning on their own. Heck, the authors of the Agile Manifesto didn’t even claim that they were learning from others:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

— Agile Manifesto

So that’s the rub. Agile started out as uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Food for thought.

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By Anthony Mersino

Anthony Mersino is the founder of Vitality Chicago, an Agile Training and Coaching firm devoted to helping Teams THRIVE and Organizations TRANSFORM. He is also the author of two books, Agile Project Management, and Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.

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