The Heart of Agile

I’ve been talking with lots of folks recently about Agile transformations.

The first thing I explain to them is that they are not just transforming from Waterfall to Agile. They are transforming from an empirical process to a non-empirical process.

Empirical processes have specific steps that are testable, verifiable and can be measured and tracked. Non-empirical processes, such as the processes for building loyalty, trust, and respect do not have specific steps. These processes are general, vague and are not testable or trackable.

Agile is a non-empirical process (or more technically, a theory about a non-empirical process).

But wait. What about backlogs, burn-downs, story points, definitions of done, etc.? These are all part of measuring and tracking (aka, Metrics).

Yes, these things are all part of an empirical process but, these things are part of Scrum. They are not part of Agile.

So why is Scrum considered to be “An Agile Methodology”?

Scrum is actually a mix of empirical and non-empirical processes. The Sprint part of Scrum is the only part that qualifies as a (potentially) empirical process. The rest of Scrum are non-empirical processes, including the admonition to do thing agilely.

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