Over the past few months, I’ve been monitoring the development of Andy Hunt’s GROWS method and I’m starting to like what I see. As valuable as capital-A Agile has been, it seems to have made a critical misstep early in its inception: It didn’t account for capital-D Dogma.
The popularity of Agile is ultimately resulting in its demise because it’s easier to be dogmatic than agile.
Snake-oil salesmen Agile consultants are becoming more and more formulaic, often blaming failures on not following the process (a.k.a. not “doing” Agile – a phrase that’s like nails on a chalkboard) rather than on not following the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto.
For a more in-depth examination on the failures of Agile, watch this video on The Death of Agile by Dave Thomas:
I also recommend reading Dave’s article, Agile Is Dead (Long Live Agility).
While Dave makes a lot of great points, his conclusion doesn’t go far enough for me: Basically, say “agility” instead of “agile” and this time don’t let the meaning erode.
Enter the GROWS Method
In May 2015, Andy Hunt posted an article similar to Dave Thomas’s: The Failure of Agile. While it echoes many of Dave’s sentiments, it goes a step further in its conclusion: Let’s start a new process that avoids mistakes of the past.
Now, two months later, there is some actual content on the GROWS website and Andy has begun to build the GROWS Method out into something real. Watch his talk at the 2015 NDC Conference, introducing the GROWS Method:
Benefits of GROWS vs. Classic Agile
I haven’t yet made any attempt to implement GROWS, so I’m not going to guess at a long list of benefits. Instead, I just want to acknowledge that I’m optimistic that the GROWS Method’s attempt to head-off the inevitable dogma of any popular ideology will be successful.
I’m optimistic because:
- Prescriptive practices are explicitly meant for people new to the method.
- There is a well-defined path for implementing the more nuanced practices necessary to truly excel.
- “GROWS” is trademarked and must be licensed to be taught. Sometimes benevolent dictatorships work.
- GROWS is an experiment: What GROWS gets wrong ought to self-correct.
Proceeding with GROWS
I have reached out to GROWS to let them know I’d like to leverage it at Brain Bytes, my web development and digital marketing agency. We will soon enter the world of product development and while building websites tends to be somewhat formulaic, developing new technology will require us to shift our approach to better handle the unknown and respond to the unexpected. My hope is that GROWS will serve as a vehicle to help us to become:
- More objective and less opinionated about how we develop software
- More measured and less haphazard in how we drive change
Ultimately, I wish to find what works best for us and I hope that GROWS can help get us there.