Busting the myth of Agile for most projects, most of the time – 1

First a disclaimer,

I am not an Agilist

I am not an expert in Agile

My core experience is not software development although I have a project in this area now but as a business and project owner and not an IT guy (developer – service provider ).

I do have three decades of project management experience, mostly on capital projects but also with exposure to numerous other sectors.

So, I write this post with the above in mind – read at your own risk 🙂

The Agile Manifesto

There are numerous resources on Agile and maybe one day I will read as many as I can but for now, we will refer to an important resource, possible what started “the movement” or “the trend”, which is the Agile Manifesto and its 12 principles.

Before we discuss the principles, the following snapshot is from the Agile Manifesto main page.

The first thing we notice is the title and in more than one place in the text – the focus is on SOFTWARE! The intention of this whole concept is to use alternative techniques in developing software. We have no doubt that Agile approaches and principles as outlined in the Manifesto and other resources are possibly the leading practices for software development. Where we have issues is when some step out of software development.

Agilists (Agile advocates), especially those who sell courses and certification preparation courses keep trying to convince us that Agile (not agile or agility) is for Most Projects – Most of the Time. They cannot even support their views with a proper example of how one can deliver projects using Agile in the Petroleum Industry, or Real Estate, or other capital projects.

The Blame Game

Some of these Agilists have also been trying to promote Agile by blaming the failure of projects, especially technology, IT, and software, on methodologies. They keep telling us Waterfall is bad or does not work. Some even consider the PMBOK Guide as a Waterfall-based Methodology, although it is CLEAR that PMBOK Guide is NOT a methodology – it is not Agile – it is not Waterfall – it is not scrum – it is not SDLC.

Some of these people do not lose a breath without “cursing” traditional project management, and its ‘shortcomings’. Here I must ask, do these people know what is traditional project management? Have these people managed a project end-to-end? Do they know that PMBOK Guide is NOT the body of knowledge or that the guide is not a method and process groups are not project phases?

Do they understand that ‘traditional project management’ does not mean Waterfall?

It is easy to blame something rather than accept our failures because of lack of understanding, lack of professional development, lack of practices, or even ignorance.

The Agile Principles

The following link is to the Agile Manifesto – twelve principles.


In closing, it is important to repeat a few points:

  1. We have no issue with applying Agile where it is appropriate and intended for, it is software development and maybe some other types of simple projects.
  2. Remember to distinguish between Agile and agile (agility, adaptability, etc.)
  3. However, we think it is time to burst the Agile bubble and the claims that Agile is for most projects, most of the time.  

We will stop here with this post and continue the series later.

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