Shades of Agile Gray


By Rodger martin

Texas, USA

We live in a digital world that prefers to think in black and white, On or Off, Agile or Plan-Driven. In reality there are more shades of gray. Although Agile is comprised of many more methodologies than just Scrum, most people around me tend to view Agile only in Scrum terms. The Agile artist needs to know when to apply Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming, Feature-Driven Development or Test Driven Development, to name just a few.

This article offers an approach when trying to fit the square peg in the round hole. For software development it has been a long hard road to get the culture change to fixed time blocked iterations. Challenges include:

  • Frequently there is preparatory work that needs to be done in an enterprise environment before the Agile development team tackles the story.
  • Integrated Agile requires the skills of the Business Analyst or the Design Architect to evaluate options before programming starts.
  • Sometimes, the time needed for the work effort is more than the length of the sprint and the story is already broken down as much as possible. Reporting a continuous working story does not show business value at the end of each sprint.
  • In a large organization, there can be dependencies/interactions with other groups that supersede the time blocked constraints.

The largest cultural issue that goes largely unaddressed in Agile literature is “How to Experiment?” For non-agilists, this is often viewed as “failure.” In reality it is what makes Agile work. For example, did Thomas Edison fail 6,000 times in finding the right material for a filament, or did he did experiment and eliminate 6,000 material candidates? Unfortunately, “Fail” is still a four letter word to most managers (especially those who control the funding sources).


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About the Author


rodger-martinMartin, JD, MBA, BSEE, PMP, PMP-ACP

Texas, USA




Rodger L. Martin has a broad background in business, law, engineering and Project Management, both plan driven and Agile. He is a retired US Air Force officer with expertise in rockets and National Ranges. His work experiences include government, military, public corporations, small business consulting and high-tech non-profit organizations. For the last 15 years, he has worked on Document Management, Knowledge Management and Process Management/Modeling projects for commercial companies. He acquired his PMP certification in 2007 and his PMP-ACP in 2015. He is also a certified Mediator.

Email address: [email protected]