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Agile Best Practices?

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: Agile Best Practices?

I’ve decided I really don’t like the idea of best-practices… it’s too easy to use them as a crutch. Some of our best stuff… daily standup meetings, sprint planning meetings, retrospectives, Scrummasters, and Product Owners… all have their limitations. They are not best all the time.

But Mike you say… you are a Ri level coach… people new to agile need Shu level practices to get them started. Yes and no. I’d suggest that people new to any process do need one way they can be successful… but that doesn’t mean they need a pre-packaged way to be successful. They don’t necessarily need someone else’s way to be successful.

Almost every team I work with needs to initially be told what to do. That said, team to team, I don’t tell every team to do the same thing. They might be a beginner at agile, but that doesn’t mean the organization needs beginner level practices. Sometimes a Shu level implementation is pretty robust.

Yes… it might be one way to be successful… but that doesn’t mean we are talking base package Scrum. One way to be successful can be a unique application of Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and traditional… mixing and blending roles and practices in ways that would make your toes curl.

The best of all best-practices are the ones that help you be successful. Someone else’s best- practices may be informative… they may even be applicable in your environment… but best-practices shouldn’t be a shield to protect us against using good judgement… from applying what we know in situationally specific ways.

Our success is our responsibility… not the responsibility of a best-practice.

Note: If you happen not be be familiar with the Shu-Ha-Ri metaphor… take a look here for a little background information.

Next Agile2011 and Other Speaking Dates

Comments (6)

  1. SwamiDave

    In our organization, we have replaced the term “best” practices by developing and implementing “good” practices.

    It recognizes that the -best- things to do may not be the same in all places and all groups. It also introduces the possibility that our situation may change or we at encounter an all-together better idea or model.


    • Mike Cottmeyer

      I might go with ‘standard practices’… as in, for now this is what we have standardized on… I want you to do it this way… but we may change it. I get asked the question all the time… what do other people do, what’s best practice? I’m starting not to like the question ;-)

  2. Paul Boos

    I hate the term ‘Best Practice’; I’ve hated it about 5 years. You can never consider a specific enough context, whether it programming language, industry, task to be accomplished, or anything else.

    Great post!

  3. Richard Cheng

    I agree with you Mike. Unless you can cite the source and have facts and figures to prove it, is it really a “best” practice.


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