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

Hi, I'm Marcus. I'm convinced that elephants can dance. Therefore, I accompany organizations on their way towards a more agile way of working. Since 2010 I regularly write about leadership, digitization, new work, agility, and much more in this blog. More about me.

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