Friday, April 29, 2011

Methodology religion - Mark Kennaley's syncretism

Theoretically a business blog shouldn't discuss religion, but in truth business - especially the tech world - is very religious. There are religious wars over Apple vs. Linux vs. Windows. And there are religious wars over other subjects also, such as the proper development methodology to use. Mark Kennaley:

In many IT organizations, there is one true "religion" that defines how projects are undertaken and managed. The methodology of the day is faithfully adhered to and non­believers are pressured to convert. A given IT religion can last a long time, then suddenly be abandoned when people lose faith in its efficacy or its primary evangelist leaves.

When this happens, all the progress made under the prior method is often deemed of little or no value, and reinvention becomes the order of the day.

Kennaley claims that there are three major methodologies - agile, lean, and unified - and that when you create a two-dimensional space with the axes of flexibility/stability and internal/external focus, you end up with four quadrants:

Clan/Family Culture: Here you have a culture that emphasizes collaboration. Your leaders tend to be facilitators and team builders, who value commitment and communication. They think effectiveness is driven by developing people and spurring participation.

Adhocracy Culture: Your company emphasizes creativity and has leaders who are entrepreneurial innovators, who value transformation and agility, and have a high level of risk tolerance. They think that innovation and vision are the best paths to effectiveness.

Market Culture: Here the orientation is competition. Your leaders are hard-driving competitors, who emphasize goal achievement, market share, and profitability. Customer focus and aggressive competition lead to effectiveness.

Hierarchy/Bureaucracy Culture: Your company tends to focus on control, with leaders who coordinate, monitor, and organize. Efficiency, timeliness, consistency, and risk aversion are the watchwords. Control and efficiency are seen as the best path to effectiveness.

Kennaley makes the point that certain methodologies are better adapted to certain cultures. For example, a unified process practice is more suited to a hierarchy/bureaucracy culture than to an adhocracy/creative culture.

But that is not Kennaley's main point:

One approach, which I call SDLC 3.0, provides a pragmatic, experience-based approach for integrating the fragmented methodology landscape by using practices that are methodology agnostic. It focuses on yielding a useful, context-specific set of standard work advice for real product development.

Of course, to religious practitioners of the three religions, Kennaley probably sounds like a dangerous heretic to be burned at the stake.
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