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Guest Contributor: Larry Cummings

I help a lot of large organizations set up Jira Software for their teams because they love the agility of Jira Software. The teams all have unique perspectives, capabilities and use tools differently, yet their organizations have one thing in common - they want to preserve agility while reaping the organizational benefits of using a common process.

I’m not a methodologist

I have nothing against methodologists... but I can tell you with certainty I’m not one. Early in my career I explored methodologies to be familiar with them, learning what I could from the smart people who discovered them. I sought out all sorts of arcane writings and speeches and attended large and small conferences on methodologies. Ironically, there are poorly run methodology conferences. I always found this encouraging for some reason. After a few years, I brought all that to an end and got back into managing product development teams.

Lowercase m methodologies are probably more important

One of the best things I heard the entire time I was exploring methodologies was something you’ll hear me repeat to your team if we work together. There are two kinds of methodologies. Capital M methodologies denote published methodologies. When you study methodologies, you are by definition learning capital M methodologies.
But there’s another class of methodologies. These are called lowercase m methodologies. These may be more important. Lowercase m mythologies are methodologies that don’t apply to all situations, but are very effective for the needs of your team. , Because they are not considered broadly applicable to other teams, they don’t get documented and they don’t get recommended.
Having worked with a bunch of software development teams, I can tell you there are some very effective teams that violate tenets of numerous capital M methodologies, but perform in a highly efficient and organized manner. In fact, the more I learned about methodologies the more I came to appreciate the quiet awesomeness of lowercase m methodologies. The methodologists I most identified with often spent at least as much time working with teams to understand and preserve what they were already doing well before they felt comfortable recommending improvements based on capital M methodologies.

Agility is so based on common sense and communications that I don’t really like capital A Agile methodologies

I think agility is based so fundamentally on elevating and trusting the judgement of the team doing the production work that effective agility based methodologies don’t really feel like they are offering up anything new. I think they are hugely important, and I can tell you that they offer incredible recommendations for teams that have lost their ability to balance the need to be creative and the need to deliver on a reliable and repeatable schedule.

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