Agile Practices Are Meant To Be Adaptive (But Only When You’re Ready)

Agile Practices Are Worth The EffortDamon Poole has written an interesting piece about which agile practices he feels really define ‘being agile‘.

When Damon says that agile is more than a single set of practices, he’s right. What’s more important than the practices is the key agile principles behind them.

Whichever methodology you prefer, whichever practices you adopt, and whichever you don’t, the most important thing is to understand these principles, and adapt your practices according to the needs of your team and the needs of your organisation.

That, for me, is really the essence of agile. It’s adaptive. Not prescriptive.

The problem, however, is that people whose understanding of the principles is not necessarily that deep might adjust the practices and lose much of the value. I’ve certainly seen this.

Ken Schwaber raises this very point in his book ‘Agile Software Development with Scrum‘. Until you really understand the principles, and have practical experience of *why* the process works, you are in no position to adapt it.

That’s where prescriptive works for teams in the early stages of adoption. And why methods such as Scrum, eXtreme Programming, and others, really do help teams to get started and find success.

Only once the key agile principles are truly embedded – not the processes, but in the mindset of the team – can the team really become truly agile, and adapt.


Photo by Seamus Murray

One Response to “Agile Practices Are Meant To Be Adaptive (But Only When You’re Ready)”

  1. Derek Winter says:

    Wo a casual observer the Agile approach to development can easily be (mis)interpreted as being casual ro unstructured. I have found through our exploration of Agile that in fact the complete opposite is true. To deliver the advantages of Agile requires a disciplined approach; with the discipline comes great freedom and all the benefits of an agile approach. Without the discipline to implement agile practises then the benefits are lost and not only will Agile get a bad name, but the results will be low quality.

    Your post struck a cord with me because the ‘adopt before you adapt’ mantra strengthens my understanding and commitment to the need for a disciplined approach to agile development. Without a disciplined approach to following the appropriate agile practises early on in the transition to an agile approach, there is great danger in trying to adapt the style and flavour of a development team to suite their situation and requirements.

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