Since I posted my comments on the change to the Scrum Guide, I have had the chance to teach two Certified Scrum Master classes. Despite my issues with the change, my desire to be transparent about things won out. I am still teaching commitment and explaining why, IMHO, it is so critical to the Team. However, I am also explaining the change in the most recent Scrum Guide and the argument for use of the word “forecast”. In both cases this has generated some healthy discussion within the class and my hope is that the participants will leave the class well enough informed to make up their own minds about it.
Talking through the commitment vs. forecast question in the class offered a great example of one of the truly awesome things about Agile. Regardless of which flavor(s) of Agile you are working with you can expect that the standard will continue to evolve and change – and that is baked right into the different frameworks. So, as the workscape continues to grow and transform, expectations for productivity continue to increase and as knowledge workers continue evolving how they approach the overwhelming volume of information they have to deal with on a daily basis, it is safe to say that the techniques we apply in Agile will continue to evolve as well. This may not sound significant on the surface, but I would like to offer two points to illustrate why I believe the organic nature of Agile is so critical.
1. Knowing that you are working with a methodology or framework that is going to continue to evolve and change places a different sort of demand on the practitioner. When working with a standard that is more, or less, locked down, many people reach a point where they believe they have finished learning it. Hopefully this is more the exception than the rule, but the problem is that they are able to get to this point in the first place. With a standard that is not locked down, that continues to keep pace with the changing workscape, the only way for the worker to remain viable is to continually grow their own knowledge and experience in step with the practice. This forces Agile practitioners to approach their work as a learning experience, which requires a level of awareness and attentiveness that is not called for by someone who has already “learnt” it.
2. For the practices themselves, once they are locked down, the change control process can become such a burden that the framework, or methodology becomes static. As soon as this happens, it begins to lose its’ ability to provide value in a continuously evolving workscape. If Critical Chain really was the last new tool added to the PMBOK, than that means that the process most of us have come up with reached a static point during a time when:
· Most of us used Windows 98 or NT
· Most of us probably got online using AOL and a 14.4 Baud dial up modem
· The iPod did not exist
· We had never heard of Monica Lewinsky
· We had never seen the Matrix
· We were probably still watching George Clooney on E.R.
· We were still two years away from hearing the phrase “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”
It is clear that our world of work has changed significantly since 1997. The way we deal with our work has also changed significantly since then. Why then, wouldn’t we require that of our process as well?