The Value of a Flawed Process

imageRecently at work a few of my teammates and myself were discussing Agile methodologies and started talking about the differences between having a process, versus not having a process.  The point was brought up many times that teams at our organization claim to be using scrum or extreme programming but are really doing what I call “Cowboy Programming”, I am sure that there is a better term for it, but basically they are running down the halls holding the Agile banner but doing whatever they want.  They do not have a process.  They meet with limited success because the projects they are working on are very small in scope and they have a pretty high level of interaction with their customer.  When our company tries to apply this same approach or lack of approach to larger projects it fails, and fails gloriously. 

So what is my point?  Well, during this discussion I started to realize that having a process, even a flawed one is better than no process at all.  If you don’t have a destination in mind and haven’t charted a path to get there how can you tell if you made it or not.  The more important part of this to me is the how you are going to get there, not the path and not the destination.  I know very Zen right?

So what is the value of a flawed process?  The value of a process is that you can compare you success or failure to it and see where you went wrong.  If we didn’t have a yard stick how could you communicate if something was shorter or longer, or better yet, measured.  The process is a set of expectations about behavior during an activity.  Once the activity is complete you can see if your actions meet with your expectations.

Therefore having a process, even a flawed one, will give you a basis for comparison and a way to measure inefficiencies that will lead to improvement.  If you do nothing, you have nothing to measure. There is value in a flawed process.

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