The Agile Toolbox

Let’s talk about a common problem that is a very real threat to any Agile company or project. We’ve all heard the term “pounding a square peg into a round hole” when something is misused, and I would be willing to bet that we’ve all experienced it. Some of you might be experiencing it right now. This is the threat I’m referring to: misuse.

When people think about Agile they generally think about Scrum, but Scrum is just one tool in a very large Agile tool box. It’s an incredibly valuable and flexible tool, which means it serves a wide variety of needs. But not all needs. Not even close.

We used to perform Agile trainings which included well over 40 different Agile methodologies in the tool box, and we’ve recently updated that training to include over 50 different Agile methods. So, the tool box is growing! It’s growing because people, teams, and companies are realizing that the tools available to them, including Scrum, SAFe, Kanban, etc., are not always right for them, so they are designing their own and thus avoiding the frustrating effort of trying to pound a square peg into the round hole.

Here’s a great example of tool misuse: take the instance of a nail, a screw and a bolt. To people unfamiliar with what these are, they all begin to look very similar. What if a hammer was the only tool in your tool box? Each of these will begin to look the same and you will try to apply the same solution. What you’ll end up with is a perfectly hammered nail, but also a bent screw and a bent bolt.

The point here is that to be successful at Agile at any level, you first need to identify the right tool for the job. The only way of doing that is to expand your Agile portfolio to include multiple methodologies and not just one or two. The more you understand the better you will be able to identify the right tool that will work for you rather then against you. If all you have is a hammer everything will eventually look like a nail.