Simple Is Better But Not Perfect

Development teams adopt Scrum as the agile methodology of choice more than any other approach. Why is that?

Scrum looks easy. The basics are simple to grasp and the rules are few. With little or no formal training, any software development group can pick up Scrum and start coding. Then reality sets in.

Realize that software development is an inherently risky and complex endeavor. There is no simple approach and no guaranteed result. If you adopt Scrum largely because it is simple to apply, failure will likely follow.

In principle, I believe it is always a good idea to keep things simple. Because software development is such a complex undertaking, any methodology you select is unlikely to solve all the problems you face.

Some teams will select an elaborate approach hoping to cover all the bases. They often invest more time struggling with the chosen approach than the business problem being solved.

Other teams select something simple, Scrum, for example. They may even reduce Scrum to the bare essentials like daily meetings hoping that the simplicity itself will work wonders. It won’t.

Above all else, be sure your team is focused on the problem at hand, committed to solving it and appropriately motivated to succeed. If you have those three things, any methodology can help.

Start simple. Add complexity as you learn more. Keep challenging the team to do better. Simple is better but it takes a lot of hard work to make it perfect.

Updated: December 31, 2010 — 5:14 pm