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Rate X Time = Distance

ScrumagileI'm always fascinated by debates over tools and techniques within the project management arena.  Generally, it's wise to stay open to new ideas without "going overboard" gung-ho about the latest messiah.  It's also wise not to dismiss a new idea too quickly without giving it a chance to prove itself; to do so is proverbially to throw the baby out with the bath water.

The whole AGILE/SCRUM debate has captured my attention recently.  In a nutshell, AGILE with SCRUM appears to be helping some companies with large development initiatives get their projects done more quickly than they were before.  AGILE, as the name implies, is speed with grace.  SCRUM is a sporting term which means to get the ball back in play (which implies that it went out-of-bounds in the first place).  The focus is heavy on communication, accountability, and results (big themes in project management anyway, so what else is new?).  Are these companies really getting things accomplished faster, or are they just finally getting things accomplished?

My blog buddy, Kevin Brady, has been adamantly vocal against it.  Another acquaintance of mine, Kent McDonald, falls in the "favor" camp.  I'm still undecided.  I know that as a project manager, an informed decision probably needs to be formulated sometime, but I think I'm still caught up in the "why" of the whole AGILE/SCRUM debate.

From the sidelines, it appears that there are companies who have had excellent results using AGILE with SCRUM.  My questions to them would be:

  • Runner Why are you successful?  What metrics make you think you're successful now?  Are you finally accomplishing something?  Congratulations and Carpe Factum.  (But lots of non-AGILE companies are accomplishing things.)
  • Are you successful because you were that screwed up in the first place that using a methodology is finally giving you results?  If so, is that any reason to rejoice in victory?  Improvement from screw-up may just be a lesser version of screw-up.
  • Are you successful because your executives realize you needed additional attention and a structured methodology and this just sounded cool?  Well, a sound project process framework that has the attention of the executives will do that, whether it's called AGILE or FRED.
  • Or is it that you have genuinely found success with this methodology and that the nay-sayers are just cynically wrong?  If 15 minute meetings and an iterative approach are cutting it for your company, I say "Huzzah" and keep at it.

As you can tell, I'm really in the undecided camp here.  I also have questions for those who have had marginal results, but you're an intelligent blog audience and you probably have the same questions.  I am leary of the fad-du-jour, but I do like to embrace new trends that work.  Maybe I'll just need to keep reading the blog and web traffic on this.  Of course, I'm still trying to figure out how Six Sigma really differs from TQM (other than the fact that the focus is more on Juran's project accountability rather than Deming's 14 points, it has a cooler name, and those who have seen too many Jackie Chan movies finally have a chance to earn a black belt in something without really breaking a sweat... but that's a different blog post altogether).

Anyone care to help me out with this dilemma?  (P.S.  Leave the emotional soap-boxes at home; I would like objective evidence here.)

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Rate X Time = Distance:

» Project Management Methodology Conundrums from Technology Architecture
Got some much-needed downtime from client work today so I spent a fair amount of time catching up on other folks' blogs. Timothy Johnson posted a piece on Agile project management with a reference to a substantial (and well worth [Read More]

» Value of Agile from The Regenerate Web
Reading this post on Carpe Factum made me want to share about my experience with "agile" management practices. The value of the agile, especially SCRUM, is the continual measurement of the distance to a goal. That is, for me, a signficant benefit. H... [Read More]

» Value of Agile from The Regenerate Web
Reading this post on Carpe Factum made me want to share about my experience with "agile" management practices. The value of the agile, especially SCRUM, is the continual measurement of the distance to a goal. That is, for me, a signficant benefit. Here [Read More]

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