Process or no process?

Toothbrush

If you were to take the PMI-ACP exam, you might get a question if agile practitioners shall respect a process or not. The obvious answer is, of course, not. After all, it’s “individuals and interactions over processes and tools!” Being agile means using a process as long as it helps you and your team to get the job done and deliver value.

Well, but how about the regular “mandatory” repetitive things that agile teams do religiously? You know: sprint planning, daily stand-up meetings, regular retrospectives, etc? Are they not part of a process too? If you have no respect for a process, why do daily stand-ups (or daily scrum) every day? How about the sprint duration? Agile prescribes it to be always the same, thus time-boxing.  Why not stay flexible and change it as needed? How do you reconcile the lack of respect for a process with the cult-like insistence on doing things the agile way, consistently, and all the time?

A good way to resolve this mental “contradiction” is to think about these things as habits, or rather good habits. You want to follow those things and do them with such consistency because they are good habits. They help you do your work and deliver value. In a way, they are simply good for you. Like brushing your teeth. You brush your teeth every day not because it is a mandatory process imposed on you by the society, but because it is good for you. It’s healthy! Agile is the same way. You maintain good habits religiously and drop the bad ones.

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