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Is it a silver bullet?

 
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Hi Mitch,


I had been into the so called time tested traditional models of designing delivering and managing projects for well over 15 years but of late there have been lot of pushes from higher ups and lower down that we need to move into Agile.

As a seasoned project manager , I am bit skeptical in moving towards agile since we need to make a quantum shift in the way we have been doing things which have given predictable results if not in all occasions but mostly.
given that , my question to you is : is Agile/Scrum silver bullet for all the issues that we have been facing in traditional models?

Thanks and Regards
Sundar
 
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The short versions is: NO!

The longer version is that it really does not make any difference once it gains traction in your organization, it is going to be viewed just like all the other quantum paradigm shifts as something is being done to fix the problem.
So you might as well grab hold and enjoy the ride, because it's going to happen.
 
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meenakshi sundar wrote:
is Agile/Scrum silver bullet for all the issues that we have been facing in traditional models?




Replace "Agile/Scrum" with:

The Cloud
Micro Services
Web Services
AJAX
UML/Rational
Wizards
CORBA
Client/Server
Prolog
OOP
4GL
Structured Programming
High-Level Languages
Chief Programmer Team

etc., etc., etc.

They never learn.
 
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If you have patience, read though this discussion.
 
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Bear Bibeault wrote:If you have patience, read though this discussion.



Even if you don't have patience, as a manager considering moving to Agile methods you should still read through it.

(The title of the thread should really be "Agile -- Silver Bullet or Steaming Pile?".)
 
meenakshi sundar
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Contrary and Strong view there? I am perplexed :-(
 
Bear Bibeault
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Why? There is going to be a wide variety of opinions on just about anything.
 
Tim Holloway
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Bear Bibeault wrote:Why? There is going to be a wide variety of opinions on just about anything.



Nah. We don't do that anymore. There's only "my" opinion - which is actually fact - and the "wrong" opinion. "My" news channel affirms that "my" opinion is right. So do "my" Internet sites. The other news channels and websites are all biased and full of lies and distortions and people out to destroy civilization as we know it. In fact, with little effort, I can surround myself with nothing but people who all "know" that "my" opinion is the only right one.
 
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There are no silver bullets. There's only stuff that will be what you make of it, be that good or bad.
 
Junilu Lacar
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If Mitch is lurking, odds are he's thinking to himself "What hornet's nest have I walked into here?"
 
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meenakshi sundar wrote:Hi Mitch, (...)
Thanks and Regards
Sundar


not a polite hornets nest. What's wrong with letting the addressed Mitch
reply first?
 
meenakshi sundar
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Yes waiting for Mitch's Reply to douse the fire :-(

Thanks
Sundar
 
Bear Bibeault
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What fire? I suspect you expected a blanket "yes" answer to your question? The truth is, the answer to "Is XYZ a silver bullet?" is always no. There are no silver bullets. There are just tools and methodologies, that may or may not work for particular teams when applied in one way or another.

Agile is a methodology that works well for some, and not so much for others. Personally, for me it's been used with varying degrees of success (but never failure) in 5 out 6 of my past jobs (including my current position).
 
Tim Holloway
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As you can see by the list I supplied, management has been attempting to get rid of those expensive pesky programmers for a long, long time, or at least make it possible for untrained monkeys to turn out an acceptable product in as close to zero time as possible for minimal expense - the Silver Bullet.

And over the years, I've seen a lot of such Silver Bullets come and go.

There is no Silver Bullet.

That's not to say that there aren't useful things in just about all of the technologies, tools and methodologies I've listed (and many more besides), but that nothing can provide a one-size-fits-all solution. To get a quality product, you still need trained personnel, good managers and a realistic time/expense budget.

Silver Bullets frequently employ expensive "Dogbert" consultants and absurdly-priced tools. But Agile, at its heart, doesn't require those. If you want to argue the merits or lack thereof of Agile, that's one thing. But the question was, "Is it a silver bullet"? and all we are saying is "why after all these years do we still keep expecting a magical solution??"
 
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Hi, like Tim and others have said, there is *NO* silver bullet - in life or anything - I have found.

People often look at agile practices to fix their company problems, but often times the true solution is overlooked, the people.

You see, agile is not only a way of doing, but more importantly a way of thinking. It will guide you in how you approach problems and how you explore solutions, whereas a traditional approach is like a script - take two of these and your problems will go away.

Where I often see this silver bullet mindset is with some company leaders. One once said to me the reason they adopted agile was "so that we would be guaranteed to not fail" which of course is just not true. I said you will fail, just sooner, and you'll be able to learn, reflect and adapt. They said this was not an option, and I said then you should not do the project. You'll fail, it's just a matter of when you choose to do it.

But no, no panacea, no silver bullets and sadly, no unicorns.
 
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Mitch Lacey wrote:
People often look at agile practices to fix their company problems, but often times the true solution is overlooked, the people.
...
Where I often see this silver bullet mindset is with some company leaders. One once said to me the reason they adopted agile was "so that we would be guaranteed to not fail" which of course is just not true.


This encapsulates the problems I (and it seems many others) have encountered with bad Agile ("Badgile") approaches in the workplace. Agile is wrongly taken to be a silver bullet that will solve all the organisation's problems without actually having to think hard or change anything significant. Then when this approach fails, "the people" get the blame, but only the people at the bottom, who are least able to change the things that really need changing.

Scrum and Agile in general do not provide a "silver bullet" solution, but I think there is a real tendency for some elements in the Agile industry to promote it as such and to blame "the people" for failing to do it properly. Caveat emptor should apply here, but unfortunately the people buying into "silver-bullet" Badgile are not the people who have to make it work in organisations that are simply incapable of supporting a genuinely Agile way of working.
 
meenakshi sundar
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Agreed,Scrum is not a silver bullet.

I may be wrong here with my limited knowledge in Agile, in my opinion ,Scrum too is Prescriptive in some way like Waterfall methodology.
What if I mix and match some best aspects of other Agile process tools like XP and Kanban and still can i run my project in Scrum majorly? Or would that completely become a Hybrid model?
Would you recommend that scenario?

Thanks and Regards
Sundar
 
Mitch Lacey
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meenakshi sundar wrote:
What if I mix and match some best aspects of other Agile process tools like XP and Kanban and still can i run my project in Scrum majorly? Or would that completely become a Hybrid model?
Would you recommend that scenario?



Hi Meenakshi,

At the end of the day, you can do whatever you like. Just understand every decision you make will have a positive (your goal) and negative (your unintended result) action. For example, lets say that we condense the daily Scrum to a weekly meeting. We save 15 minutes, so now we have "fewer, shorter meetings" (your goal). The negative pattern you introduced, however, is that the team now has one opportunity per week to sync up and identify impediments, issues, challenges, etc, that would have otherwise surfaced in a daily meeting.

Another example that I have to deal with every day of my life. Our family / my bloodline has diabetes. I have high cholesterol (250+) and very high blood sugar (110+) and as a result, I've been told that I can either 1) watch my diet and exercise, or 2) take drugs. I'm not a big drug fan so I elect to fight this through option one. This means that if I have some chocolate today at lunch, or something sweet, I can't have anything this evening - not even a beer or a glass of wine because that will create an imbalance in my system and that if I want to live long and prosper, I better watch it. Now, I don't have to watch it. I could choose to skip both option one and two and eat however I want, whenever I want -- after all, I'm an adult! But I have to understand the impact of my decisions. Sure, I won't see a problem today but over time, I'll see a change, and it won't be something I like.

Here's my take. Do Scrum, or Kanban, or XP, or anything - by the book. Learn it, practice it, and most importantly, understand why these agile practices work the way they do. Only then can you step back and say "OK, I get this, lets run a small test and tweak X or Y for two weeks and see what happens" - but you can't do that until you have a solid baseline and a good working knowledge of why things work the way they do. But if you mix things up, don't call it what it's not. I only speak the English language, and I don't run around speaking English and calling it Mandarin or Japanese or German, because that'd just be silly.
 
Tim Holloway
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chris webster wrote:

Mitch Lacey wrote:... I think there is a real tendency for some elements in the Agile industry to promote it as such and to blame "the people" for failing to do it properly.



Which old-timers will readily recognize as the same thing that happened with the last dozen or so "Tarnished Bullets".
 
Mitch Lacey
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Agree. Not my quote either.
 
Tim Holloway
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Mitch Lacey wrote: Agree. Not my quote either.



Sorry about that last. Mismatched markup tags.
 
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