Misuse of 'Agile'

Here is something that really made me mad.

I was asked to provide Subject Matter Expert support in a tender process, where a training company was pitching to win some project management training business from a multinational. The sales person writing the proposal showed how the training company would establish the detailed training needs, and then develop the material using ‘Agile’ methods.

I asked if she had discussed this approach with the potential client, and she said ‘no’. I asked her why she had indicated an ‘Agile’ project to generate the course material. She said that she wanted to show our commitment to working hard and fast to meet the client’s requirements. I asked her if she understood the implications of ‘Agile’, especially for the involvement of the client, and she admitted that she had mentioned ‘Agile’ as the modern trend in project management. I think she thought that ‘Agile’ just means that we would jump around like a bunch of monkeys, hacking out training material as quickly as possible.

I tried to explain the level of commitment required from the client, and their acceptance of slipping the scope to meet the deadlines.

She was horrified. She said that there was no way that the client or the principal training provider would agree to slipping the scope, and that my ‘defeatist attitude would not help them to win the contract’.

I felt that here is another misuse of ‘Agile’. It is not a solution to the ‘can’t we do it quicker?’ issue, but many people on the fringes, with little genuine understanding of the approach, feel that the application of the magic word will just speed everything up.

Just what did they think we were doing before?


© Mike Watson 2015



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