A Commonplace

What is a commonplace?



97 Agile Ideas - Idea Number 15

Lightweight Methodology

The group of people who met together in the ski lodge in Utah were working trying to use what they called "light" or "lightweight" methodologies. This is really a reaction to the kind of software development methodologies which were around at the time the Agile manifesto was written, which most definitely weren't lightweight, such as "Lean Six Sigma."

This lightweight methodology aspect of Agile is reflected in the first value in the Agile manifesto.

"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools."

But so often, as both a Scrum Master and an Agile coach I find myself having to explain, or remind people that Agile, and especially Scrum, is a lightweight methodology. What's particularly unnerving is the kind of "folkloric" aspects of extra detail which have somehow got added to Scrum which either aren't there in the original descriptions, or have been quietly soft-pedalled or dropped because they are problematic.

In the category of "detail that was never there" perhaps the one that most commonly causes problems is the idea that the backlog should be made up of user stories. There is in Scrum the idea that worked planned for a sprint should be - as much as possible - work that's visible to the customer. But there's no dictate in Scrum what the exact format of those stories should be.

In the category of "detail that was there" - but which has proved so problematic that it's been quietly dropped - is the idea that what's planned in a sprint should be a "commitment." Honouring your commitments, sounds like a thing that everyone should do. But the idea that a team will ever be in the position at the beginning of a sprint to commit to what they will be able to deliver clashes with a more fundamental Agile idea - that of empirical process.