How Agile Is Too Agile?

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Agile. Throughout my career I have been an advocate for leaner processes, less unnecessary bureaucracy, and more delegated decision making.

And I love how Agile challenges these things and proposes much leaner and better, in my opinion, alternatives.

However, there is such a thing as too lean. There are some things that are needed for some control, and steering of projects and we need to make sure that we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Recently I have worked on a couple of projects where the level of planning was excruciating, almost to the point where the plans added no value. They were just a process for process sake and did little to control the project. In fact, they often deflected people away from delivering the project.

But I have also seen the other end of the scale where plans and planning has stopped altogether other than at the highest of levels. The argument being the timescales are too tight and we just need to start delivering.

I often think that Projects and Music have a lot in common with the plans being the sheet music the orchestra can follow.

If you want to throw away the sheet music then you need to have a highly skilled group who all know the piece by heart and their role within it.

Even then it is still open to mistakes and the risks of failure.

But if you are playing a new piece of music, with less inexperienced people you would never think of throwing the music away.

The same is true with projects, we have to get the balance right between the scale and complexity of the work, and the level of experience of the people who have to deliver it.

Get that right and you can be successful.

Get it wrong and it will end in tears!