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If By Waterfall

May 25, 2018

Ahh Waterfall. Every Agilist's favorite enemy. If there's one thing the Agile community can agree on, it's that Waterfall is bad. "You're waterfalling your iterations;"  "we're going to have an agile/waterfall hybrid;" and "we're never going to get rid of waterfall" are common statements. The problem is that the meaning of those statements varies depending on the audience. So, having been inspired by Mississippi State Representative Noah S. " Soggy" Sweat's famous speech concerning the legalization of whiskey in his state, here is my attempt to clarify Waterfall and my stance on it.



If, when you say waterfall, you mean long running phases, minimal interaction between technology and the business, organizational silos, matrixed resources, the inflexible process that leads to soul crushing micromanagement and blame management; if you mean the methodology that leads to tomes of unread documents, where testing waits until the late minute, where quality is devalued, and where no benefits are derived until the entire solution is deployed to production, and where over two-thirds of projects fail, then certainly I am against it.


But if, when you say waterfall, you mean the disciplined process of planning and organizing work, dedicated teams, and the setting of clear expectations for all participants; if you mean a commonly understood methodology which requires discipline, provides for cross-departmental coordination, risk management, strong discipline, risk management, and delivery of value to all stakeholders with clear communication, then certainly I am for it.


This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

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