I went to see a bad chiropractor a few months ago and his approach diminished my (already quite skeptical) perception of this medical practice. His outright dismissal of conventional medicine and biased view that chiropractic treatment is the only true solution to all ailments turned me away from him and from any benefits I may have found by continuing with his treatment.
I am not comparing agile methods to alternative medicine, instead I’m just pointing out that zealots who fail to acknowledge alternative views can do a lot to damage their profession. As proponents of agile methods, I believe we can make a stronger case for agile by acknowledging strengths of traditional approaches and explaining how agile can help common challenges, rather than by dismissing traditional techniques.
Encouraged by other recommendations, I visited a different chiropractor and received great benefit. He did not attempt to undermine traditional medicine, instead he explained how he might be able to help and we took it from there. My symptoms got worse before they got better, but I stuck with it since his explanations seemed reasonable. My “conversion” moment came when he also relieved some additional injuries I had been suffering with for many years.
I do not think I am alone in appreciating a considered approach. Most of the people I deal with in the business community are smart, conscientious professionals who are looking for successful projects. Yet, we see the actions of zealots and as a believer it is easy to be caught up in their damaging behaviour.
The following list outlines some common examples of how biased thinking can undermine the value of agile methods and offers some advice to ambassadors of agile methods for avoiding these pitfalls.
Dismissing the Waterfall Process
The waterfall process as originally outlined by Winston Royce in 1970 actually contains some really good advice. For a start it recommends that the waterfall process always be run at least twice for a project because you will not get everything right the first time. Also that there should be regular feedback loops and checks along the way to ensure things are working correctly. Take a look, here’s a reprint of the original 1970 paper, look at page 7.
Agile ambassadors could do better to offer agile as a solution to single pass waterfall challenges on software projects rather than a superior approach period.
Running down the PMI, PMPs and the PMBOK