Agile Stepping Stones Approach
As a part time ski instructor in the winter, I have come to learn that you need a lot of skills, lessons and techniques in your bag. The Professional Ski Association of America teaches these skills to instructors with a combination of observation, lesson planning and execution techniques. If a student cannot learn a technique through one approach, then you try three others that may resonate with them.
This approach is known as stepping stones. Where progress is made by selecting different skills, models and examples and then traversing up the learning curve from there.
We can learn much from this approach by applying those agile attributes and methods and creating “our own agile blend”. This will allow an organization to take the best of each approach as it relates to their particular problem or project.
As an example, much of my current software development work is carried out across different countries and time zones. By using a more “heavyweight” documentation approach, there is a reduction in corrective iterations of the software would otherwise be costly. So we put more emphasis on user interface designs and detailed use cases to remove ambiguity from the early stages of a project. Conversely we use all available communications tools in reviewing and problem solving during the development cycle. These include Web conferencing, Chat, Skype and revision controls.
By picking our spots to use Agile, it may well be that less is more. We only force the benefits of agile where they are adding value to the project, and avoid methodology wars amongst our colleagues and teams. Just as different materials are used in creating products, we can apply the same principles in techniques and make it to the other side with our team and goals intact.