Shakespeare and a blasphemer… 2

Shakespeare’s play As You Like It is famous for one of his most oft-quoted speeches, “All the world’s a stage” but it is also known as the origin of the commonly used phrase “too much of a good thing”.   The actual line referenced in the play is “Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”, pointing out the idea that excess of any one thing may not be good for you.  I think this can be true for many things, including our beloved agile processes (don’t label me a blasphemer yet…read on and then make your assessment).

Now that I have your attention, let’s shift gears for a moment…

One of the twelve principals of the Agile Manifesto states:

“Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential”.

I believe this concept of simplicity should also apply to the utilization of agile principals and techniques, not just to the product code.  For example, if a team is succeeding (continuously meeting and exceeding customer expectations) by using let’s say three quarters of the full Scrum agile framework, should they be condemned for not going into full-scrum or be concerned about being labeled Scrum-But?  Could they improve on that success by going the rest of the way…possibly…I would even answer probably, but it’s not a guarantee.

Now let me step back a minute and state that I do believe that agile development processes are “a good thing” and the more elements of any agile process you incorporate, the more likely you are to see sustainable success.  But it is not necessary in every case to be “Full-{insert favorite methodology here}” in order to be highly successful.  There is far too much subjectivity in the circumstances surrounding each effort in play to generalize that any agile method MUST be applied fully in order to achieve sustainable success (notice I do refer to sustainable a lot as we are not looking for quick-hit one-sprint wonders here).  After all, agile concepts are supposed to allow for subjective thinking to penetrate the process to allow for the best solution for the specific request at hand…remember this oldie but goodie…“Responding to change over following a plan”

Why shouldn’t this apply to the application of your agile process as much as it applies to your code?

My philosophy is this; if you are new to an agile process and want to gain benefit from it, implement it as completely as your current situation allows FIRST and continue to work towards fully implementing it as you move forward.  Then as you reach a level of sustained success, reassess what is working and what isn’t (what is necessary and what is overhead) and adjust accordingly.

I welcome your thoughts, and have an Agile Day!

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