Agile without a Plan?

Plan­ning replaces coin­ci­dence with fail­ure. This bon mot is attrib­uted to Albert Ein­stein. It’s not the first time I’ve used it in this blog. Already the sec­ond arti­cle bore this title. The right degree of plan­ning and the pur­pose of plans has occu­pied me ever since — espe­cial­ly in the light of the agile trans­for­ma­tion. After all, the Agile Man­i­festo says, “Respond­ing to change over fol­low­ing a plan.” And quite a few con­clude from this that there is no longer any need for plan­ning in Scrum and Co. In fact, how­ev­er, the oppo­site is true, it is being planned more and more often on dif­fer­ent lev­els. But not for the sake of the plan itself but for the com­mon under­stand­ing of the project.

Embrace Change!

No plan sur­vives the first ene­my con­tact.
Hel­muth Graf von Moltke

A plan is always a hypoth­e­sis of an unclear future. It can and will be quick­ly caught up by real­i­ty. The more volatile and uncer­tain the envi­ron­ment, the faster this will hap­pen. Maybe already at the first ene­my con­tact. That is unavoid­able. The ques­tion is how we deal with this feed­back. Do we think “the worse for the facts” like Georg Wil­helm Friedrich Hegel, when he was con­front­ed with the hard real­i­ty of a recent­ly dis­cov­ered eighth plan­et of our solar sys­tem, which accord­ing to his the­o­ry should not have exist­ed? Or do we con­sid­er fail­ure as a chance for learn­ing? Embrace Change!

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Thomas A. Edi­son

More Planning in Agile …

The Agile Man­i­festo delib­er­ate­ly states “… over fol­low­ing a plan”. It does not say there that you are not allowed or should not plan. There is actu­al­ly a lot of plan­ning tak­ing place with dif­fer­ent hori­zons. It all starts from an attrac­tive and shared prod­uct vision. With­out it, agili­ty runs the risk of becom­ing arbi­trary and turn­ing in cir­cles. Guid­ed by this vision, the release plan and / or a prod­uct roadmap form the strate­gic plan­ning lev­el. In the short-term hori­zon of a few weeks, the teams then plan their work in sprints or on their kan­ban board. And on the low­est lev­el, a Dai­ly Standup is used to plan the work for the next 24 hours togeth­er. Read more in the arti­cle by Bar­ry Overeem: “Myth 10 – In Scrum, There is no Plan­ning

… but Differently

Plan­ning is a col­lab­o­ra­tive activ­i­ty in Agile and not the task of a few select and supe­ri­or man­agers. It is used for com­mu­ni­ca­tion. And its objec­tive is not to cre­ate a plan, but a com­mon under­stand­ing of the project and the joint work as a team. The plan itself is a means to this end. And it is con­stant­ly being revised. On sev­er­al lev­els with vary­ing gran­u­lar­i­ty. This is not a flaw in the plan or plan­ning, but a sign of progress and shared learn­ing.

We have a strate­gic plan. It’s called doing things.
Herb Kelle­her

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