It’s not about the process

I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable with “process”; even more with inflicting it on others. Process is a pre-defined way of doing something; I like to change my mind as I learn more.

Our team started with nothing: we were just told what to do, we transformed with Scrum and improved with Kanban. With these we developed our own process that over time evolved. Now both they, and the process we derived from them take a backseat. We no longer give much thought to their ceremonies and steps. So why haven’t we regressed back to ad-hoc ineffectiveness?

Processes provides a template for acting on the principles that underly them.

Processes are training wheels

The process changed us. Acting out the process, taught us how to work according to its principles. These principles have become ingrained in our mindset.

We are open: willing to share all our ideas however unsure we were. This runs deeper than a daily standup and a task board.

We are collaborative: working together as the need arises, not at any pre-defined time or place.

We test our assumptions as we make them: talking to those who really know immediately, not waiting for demos.

We decide, with the other stakeholders, what adds the most value today. We change priorities whenever there is a need and we are all in agreement. We don’t wait for the next planning session.

We reflect continually in conversations all day. We don’t wait for the next standup or retrospective, most of the improvement really is continuous and emergent.

It’s not about the process

We use process to learn about the principles that underly it, then throw it away.

Is there a way to learn these principles without explicit processes? Agile is about People not Process.


  1. Machiel Groeneveld · · Reply

    You still have a process, it’s just not a predefined process. I agree with your point, define your own process taking (parts of) predefined processes.

    1. Yes, you’re right, I am talking about a predefined process here, everything we do to develop software is a part of a process. I’ve really struggled with the wording on this post. The point I’m trying to make is that even using parts of a predefined processes becomes unnecessary when the principles behind them become part of my mindset. Once I start acting in a way congruent with the principles I can create my own constantly adapting process as I progress.

      I imagine the idea will develop in future posts. Thanks for your comment

  2. Would you agree that heavier the process, more obscure the values/principles

    1. Yes, I think that’s likely to be the case. One of the things I like most about Scrum is it’s light on process and strong on values and principles. If the process becomes too complicated we spend all our time following rather than thinking about the reasons why. What is most important to me is that we continue to look for more effective ways of working and adapting to change rather than religiously following a process. Thank you for the great question 🙂

  3. […] people with process is not the answer. That was part of the old way, as well as managers demanding what people worked […]

  4. […] people with process is not the answer. That was part of the old way, as well as managers demanding what people worked […]

  5. […] people with process is not the answer. That was part of the old way, as well as managers demanding what people worked […]

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