Tailor Thoughtfully

Many teams start off with some sort of cookbook approach to their development processes: Scrum, or SAFe or perhaps some sort of proprietary methodology, such as Macroscope.

While all of these have much to offer, each project is somewhat unique, and so it pays to thoughtfully tailor your prescribed approach to fit the needs of your particular endeavor.

Tailoring can be done in several ways:

  • Deciding what baseline process (or processes) you will start with;
  • Deciding what tasks and activities need to be performed;
  • Deciding what deliverables will be produced;
  • Deciding what roles will be responsible for which tasks and which deliverables, and in what capacity;
  • Deciding if any of the deliverables to be produced might usefully be combined;
  • Deciding on tools to be used for authoring and publication of deliverables;
  • Deciding whether any standard templates commonly used for any of your deliverables should be modified;
  • Deciding on the degree of formality needed for review, approval, publication and preservation of the selected deliverables.

When tailoring, some consideration should be given to the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition. This model points out (quite accurately, in my experience) that novices will tend to demand quite specific rules to be followed, but will then take no responsibility for outcomes, since they will see the process as being responsible, not themselves. Experts, on the other hand, will tend to balk at the application of any sort of rigid guidelines, and will work more intuitively, but often have a hard time articulating why they want to take a certain path. Those in the middle, who are competent or proficient, are generally most valuable when doing tailoring, since they are willing to consider some set of starting rules, and can articulate why they might want to deviate from those rules, thus contributing to productive discussions on the topic.

Of course, careful consideration of the Big Ideas presented here can provide guidance in your tailoring efforts.

Next: Sharpen Your Axe