Use what works, ditch the rest?
„Use what works, ditch the rest!“ is something that I have heard over and over again regarding Agile. On one hand it sounds logical, one the other hand it feels somehow wrong. And for a long time I didn’t really understand why I felt that way.
In a recent Twitter conversation around that theme Dave Snowden wrote, „if you don’t know why it worked you end up being fooled.“ That statement helped me to understand my gut feeling better.
I think the really important part of „Use what works, ditch the rest!“ is your definition of „works“. Let’s be more precise: Scrum wasn’t made to „work“ in your environment. It is designed to make the organizational dysfunctions visible, so that you can remove them. In that way you shouldn’t expect Scrum to “work”. And if you ditch Scrum since it doesn’t “work”, you ditch an opportunity to evolve the company.
Sidenote: It doesn’t matter if you use Kanban instead of Scrum. Slack time generated by WiP limits doesn’t “work” in most companies either.
Don’t get me wrong: I do not propose cargo-cult dogmatism. In alignment with Dave Snowden you should have experienced agile practitioners on board who know why Scrum and Kanban are designed the way they are and help you understand why something does or doesn’t work in your context. Then you really learn and get the opportunity to improve.
In conclusion the „Use what works, ditch the rest!“ is OK for me, when the definition of „works“ is that our problems become visible so that we can attack them.
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