Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Waterfall Management Methodology is Irrelevant

Business Tactics

2010.03.09_Waterfall With so many project management methodologies in the market and so few people versed in more than one, it seems difficult to choose a method over another.  There aren’t that many people that have put practical knowledge about multiple methodologies to critically assess any one against the other.

I don’t claim to know all or even a large number of them either.  However, what I can tell you is that anyone who prefers or pushes one over another without regard for an organization’s needs, politics, culture and state of current practices is likely inserting his or her own foot in mouth and being of disservice to their practice and company. 

In fact, anytime I hear a presenter or a manager start off a conversation with something like, “The waterfall management methodology is irrelevant,” or a similar comment about any other method or approach, I realize I’m dealing with an amateur or a zealot.  I then pull out my notebook or Smartphone and start reading through my emails, news, and daily plan.  I know I can find much better information there than by listening to the speaker.  The point is that any dismissive attitude espousing a silver bullet solution to problems is likely mistaken.

I can understand being passionate about a particular approach.  I certainly demonstrate my passion each time I write in this blog or speak with a customer, client, or coworker.  We should all practice this.  However, any perspective that refuses to see or consider another point of view is missing out on the benefits of continuous improvement as well as finding an alternate approach to solving problems.

This is one reason I’m thankful I’ve spent time as a consultant working under some great leaders.  In fact, I recommend working for and with zealots, but that you leave the moment you feel your approach is the only one.  That is the time you try another or start work for another zealot. 

Take project management for example.  By practicing Waterfall, XP, Scrum, Spiral, RUP, among others, when faced with new teams, departments, companies, cultures, or industries, you’ll be able to assess which practice best fits your circumstances and then use it.  Likely, you’ll begin to have a preference for one over another for particular circumstances and, by having practiced various methods, you’ll be able to describe the costs, benefits and risks of using one over another.  The main point is that you should consider all options and weigh your circumstances before recommending or choosing any one method over another.

What are you waiting for then?  Figure our which process you’re using today and either find how you can improve it or search for a new one to practice.  Start building your methodology toolset today!

What Do You Think?

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Photo Credits: ajagendorf25