A reply on Michael Küster’s agile anti-patterns

https://failfastmoveon.blogspot.com/2019/07/how-agilists-betray-very-nature-of.html

While I agree upon the “badness” of Michael’s anti-patterns, I would like to add some remarks on my reasons, why he is right.

On Agile projects

Anti-Pattern

There’s no such thing as Agile Projects! You must do Product Development!” – can you even smell how dogmatic and close-minded this is? You’re not inviting a discussion, you’re ending it!

https://failfastmoveon.blogspot.com/2019/07/how-agilists-betray-very-nature-of.html

Remark

Since Scrum is Agile and Jeff Sutherland’s wife Arline is using Scrum for projects in church (cf. https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/agile-project-management-scrum-6269) I don’t care, if some people get angry about “agile projects”.

For the sad few for whom this is not enough, I would like to add that the PRINCE2 Agile world distinguishes between projects and business as usual (or BAU). While BAU is for ongoing activities with steady teams and more predictable outcome (and PRINCE2 Agile is not applicable), PRINCE2 Agile deals with projects, which in turn deal with uncertainty, complexity, and time boxes.

On Fixed scope

Anti-Pattern

We’re Agile! That’s Big Upfront Design, Waterfall!” Proposing to make the scope known upfront is met with arrogance and disdain. You wouldn’t even bother to ask,  “what do you mean by fixed scope“, because fixed scope indicates that this person just doesn’t get it.

https://failfastmoveon.blogspot.com/2019/07/how-agilists-betray-very-nature-of.html

Remark

PRINCE2 Agile uses the “fix and flex” concept on six dimensions, and scope is one of them. For scope prioritization it uses the MoSCow technique (Must, Should, Could, Won’t have), meaning that you may flex the should haves and could haves, but should not flex = fix the must haves).

https://publications.axelos.com/prince2agile2015/content.aspx?page=cros_37&showNav=true&expandNav=true

A car without an engine is not a car, a car without a sat-nav maybe is not up-to-date (should? could?) but still marketable.

See also https://cms.vp-consulting.de/prince2-agile/#whattofixandflex

On Milestone dates & product roadmap

Anti-Pattern

We can’t know what or when!” – calling the request unreasonable and insisting on a free pass for the team. 

Our stakeholders want to know our product roadmap – what they can expect in the next year or two. A roadmap instills confidence that you know what you’re doing and aren’t getting tossed about by every wind.
 “That’s not Agile“, I hear you scream!

https://failfastmoveon.blogspot.com/2019/07/how-agilists-betray-very-nature-of.html

Remark

Exhibitions typically are fixed and planned events, aligned with different streams and external parties, e.g. presenting at IFA Berlin or CES is very resource intensive, expensive and will affect share prices if you don’t deliver, so deliver the best you can.

Which means, keep your core product requirements fixed and flex on the should/could haves.

In SAFe lingo: continuously re-prioritize your product backlog, having your product roadmap towards the exhibition in mind.

Progress report

Anti-Pattern

We have Reviews, and thus, progress reports are a waste“. The mere suggestion of a progress report obviously means that the individual doesn’t understand agility and the organization wants to preserve status quo.

https://failfastmoveon.blogspot.com/2019/07/how-agilists-betray-very-nature-of.html

Remark

cf. https://scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html#artifacts-productbacklog and look for “managing progress toward goal”.

This gives a quite nice hint on what to do: First you have to have a goal. Second: “Various projective practices upon trending have been used to forecast progress, like burn-downs, burn-ups, or cumulative flows.”

As Tom DeMarco once said: “Bad metrics are better than no metrics”.

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