Standardized Agile — An Oxymoron?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

In recent years the use of agile has expanded beyond software development projects to many other parts of the business, from marketing to human resources. In some cases, organizations are seeking ways to standardize their agile approaches across different areas in search of consistency. But is there a need to standardize agile or does that actually run counter to its principles? Can we strike a balance between the need to monitor and control project work centrally and the need to optimize team-level performance?

Starting with fundamentals

Some elements of this discussion can get complex and potentially contentious, but there are some aspects that should be fairly easy to agree on so let’s start with those fundamentals. If practitioners and leadership can agree on these pieces of the agile picture it will be a lot easier to gain common understanding on some of the more complex aspects. The most obvious starting point is the high-level agile methodology that is being used.

I believe that organizations should seek to have a common approach, or more likely combination of approaches, in all areas of the business. Every survey on this topic reveals Scrum as the most popular agile approach, frequently supplemented with Kanban. I’m neither for nor against these specific methods over any of the alternatives, but I do believe they are adaptable enough to be applied …

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