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Why is Waterfall scaring Agile kids for Halloween?

October 26, 2017

 

 

     I was reading some articles on social networks recently and I came across a bold statement saying that: “Scrum, when done badly, is worse than waterfall”.

 

    I stopped for a second. Now I read the same thing out loud. Gosh, that gave me chills. Not because of the significance of the statement, we will come back to that later.

 

    It was because that statement sent me back 12+ years ago when I first started practicing Scrum.I saw myself, I got the picture in my head, long time ago, overwhelmed and all hyped about Scrum. For me, Scrum was the Holy Grail in software development and everyone who even had the courage to mention the word “waterfall” in front of me was immediately put on my enemy list. Simple as that! Waterfall = evil, Scrum = nirvana, the ultimate state of delivering anything in this world.

 

    Fast forward a decade, the Agile industry is still demonizing waterfall as a bad example of how the things should not be done and teaching all the new Agile practitioners that “practicing Scrum will make everyone’s life easier, waterfall will ruin your life” 

 

    I consider myself an Agile person, living and breathing the Lean/Agile values and principles, personally and professionally. I believe in interactions with people, teaching my kid that every day is a chance to learn something new, opportunity to make ourselves better people. I strongly stand behind the principles of teamwork, good timing, coordination, collaboration, reducing wasteful activities, process improvement, adding value to every segment of our professional and personal life… Is that so much different than waterfall done right? Is it, really?

 

   I had an opportunity to be part of the PMO office on a $68M construction project back in 2007. Every phase of the project was delivered just in time for the next component team to pick up the next phase of the work. The teams were talking to each other, planning weekly and daily, they were responding to a change together, jumping from one team to another if the other team needed help to deliver their piece of work just in time for the next team. It was a real pleasure watching the flow of work with very little bottlenecks, high quality of work and an awesome teamwork, coordination, and collaboration.

 

BUT, it was a waterfall. The source of all evil!!!

 

    Back to the author of the “Scrum when done badly is worse than waterfall” statement: Dear Sir, I can remember hundreds of situations when my teams were doing the Scrum ceremonies, planning and make commitments, but not delivering value at the end of each iteration. Teams, or a better called bunch of individuals forced to work together, delivering crappy code over and over again, but they were still doing Scrum. You are right, these individuals were doing bad Scrum, but it was not worse than the waterfall I know.

 

Being Agile makes the teams successful, it’s not the system. Accepting and respect for the core Lean/Agile values, regardless of the framework used is what makes the teams act as a team.

 

We should stop scaring our Agile students with waterfall, but instead, make sure that they understand that disrespect for people’s opinions, command and control, demotivating motivated people, lack of communication and knowledge sharing, lack of team success and failures, absence of opportunity for improvement, non-transparent work and whole list anti- Agile patterns will make your organization to deliver and perform badly.

 

Even worse than Waterfall :)

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