Ron Jeffries has a nice new article on whether agile implies effectiveness, and vice versa. The way he describes this is that an agile approach gives more opportinity for effectiveness, but if you can’t follow the agile approach you can use non-agile measures to still reach a certain point of effectiveness.
I think this resonates with some other things I’ve been reading and thinking about. The road to creating a full working agile implementation can take quite a few turns before ending up with the type of completely self-organising team that we’re aiming for. A lot depends on the people in the team, the support in the wider organisation, and the experience with agile processes. Scott Ambler has been talking about his Agile Maturity Model which promotes that ‘you should strive to be as agile as you need to be, and that will be driven by the situation that you face’. Jeff Sutherland has been emphasizing that new teams should start with a complete and structured Scrum implementation before they start adapting it to their specific situation, to avoid team (and whole companies!) to ‘adapting’ Scrum towards their previous way of working.
All things said and done, I prefer starting with quite a strict way of applying Scrum, so that when you are changing an organisation, it has something substantial to change to. Of course, this can be interpreted as being against the first value of the Agile Manifesto: People and interaction over processes and tools. But if the process is all about enabling people and interactions, then not sticking to it will be worse than the alternative, especially if that means a return to a non-agile process.