I’ve been following the LeanAgileScrum discussion on to Agile Project Management list with some interest. Here’s the reply I sent recently:
I would like to relate a story of a personal experience from a few years ago.
I worked with a group that had a rather heavy-weight requirements process. By which I mean, big nasty template with signoffs. I once saw, literally, a five-page requirements document that equated to one line of code.
So, in comes the agile coach, and he says, “this requirements doc is junk. We’re going to discuss the requirements and write things on these little index cards …”
The requirements people first admitted the requirements docs were bad, then fought to keep them tooth and nail.
What’s going ON here?
The best explanation I found was that we were taking away the one thing they knew to cling to. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a safety blanket. Without that, *now* how do we do our jobs?
I think moving from a heavyweight, Big-Up-Front-Everything shop to a scrum shop is much like that. Many people want prescriptive processes. They want to be told how to do it. They want to be able to follow the process instead of inventing it.
Or, at least, they _think_ they want something like that. If they *have it*, they’ll feel constrained by it and hate it and complain about it, but gosh, having a template sure is a lot easier than having a blank sheet of paper. Even if it’s a crappy template.
So you see these good ideas like Agile or Scrum institutionalized, procedure-ized, process-ized, turned into certifications … and someone has to come and invent a new buzzword to say “no, stop being stupid” only more politely.
Today it’s called lean, or maybe post-agile. And, if it achieves some good, I’m fine with it.