Methodologies, use them wisely

The methodology trap

Maybe it is because we are entering the post agile era but I can't stop seeing people complaining about Scrum being slow, waterfallish... The last one I saw really caught my eye. It even hit front page of HN. It was called standups are poisonous. I read the title and couldn't avoid WTFing. Of course I don't really enter this kind of discussions. I don't see myself as an authority to question somebody's opinion. Luckly Darian Shimy wrote something far wiser than whatever I could try to explain.

Anyhow I think we are missing the big picture. Following blindly whatever methodology or principle is too stupid.

What are methodologies for?

A methodology is only a set of guidelines that helps us reaching some purpose. It's like the shopping list: it's a reminder of some steps you need to do in order to reach some goal. The stress in in the purpose, not in the means. Back in the stand up example, of course a 30 minute daily stand up is evil! And of course changing it to something that reaches the same goal and takes less time is a good idea. The idea behind the daily stand up is making all the team aware of the current situation and remove any obstacle that may arise. That's it. If your team thinks it is better to send a plain email: let be it! If your team prefers using a bunch of homing pigeons: have fun and remember to feed them properly!

We need this kind of methodologies because our imperfections. A groceries list is very useful because it helps you to remember what you have to buy but it also saves you from buying more than you need because you write the list at home and you can check your fridge at the moment you are deciding what to buy. Maybe your memory is superb and you don't need to write the list on paper and prefer making a mental note. Are you using a grocery list then? Maybe or maybe not but you are following its spirit and reaching the goals it helps you to reach.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Anyway we have lots of literature about all the methodologies you can think of. A lot of book have been written about Scrum. All of them are written based on the author experiences and working with the human beings the author has worked with. This may or may not work 100% with all the people in this world. Anyway, since it worked for somebody they make an awesome starting point for you and your team to iterate and build your own way. Build your experience on top of other people's.