I'm S.A.D.* I think my methodology failed!

October 20 2014

I’m not sure whether it’s something about the season; the clocks are about to go back, the nights (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air – but it seems to me that I’m noticing more and more articles, videos, slideshares and the like, attempting to explain or even just bemoan the fact that ITIL, Agile, TOGAF, or A.N. Other methodology is NOT working.

Come on everyone, let’s get out of this fug!

These frameworks are only here to give us some short cuts, a shared vocabulary, predefined roles, responsibilities & tasks and ideas for making things easier. If we believe they are failing then it makes it sound like we believe that they were solely the key to our success. But of course they aren’t. They are not panacea they just have the potential to be really helpful.

My last piece concerned “common sense“, or more accurately its non-existence, and this current trend only seems to reinforce my feelings on that. So whilst these management constructs can help to endow us all with some commonality; language etc., only we can choose how to apply them, and we absolutely do that on an individual level.

I have seen ITIL used by individuals, with the full backing of an organisation, to only obfuscate, confound and bombard colleagues with red tape and blockers (because it seemed easier and much less risky than actually getting the work done) – meetings on meetings about meetings to plan meetings. On the flip side I have seen Agile used to ride rough shod over process, governance and risk management with its seat belt flapping around next to it, a cold can of suds in one hand and texting its mate with the other.

These approaches are innocent, the only power they hold over us is that which we bestow upon them. If they are benevolent it is because we choose them to be or have worked hard to make them such, if they end up being malevolent, equally so. As an organisation, as a group of individuals we are not always going to be able to meet all of our individual needs and pretty much all of these products advise us to choose the parts which suit, which enable, which support our IT objectives and business goals. The key is to getting all our colleagues pulling in the same direction, enabling and supporting each other. And not just colleagues, anyone in fact, who we need to help us to be successful.

We need clarity of purpose, collaboration and an awareness of everyone’s motivations or reasons to want to help. That’s the real hardship, that’s the grind. Agile, ITIL et al that’s the easy bit.

There is no common sense, everyone is different (like our finger prints) so getting us all co-operating around one, or all of these process driven practices, is the toughie.

Personally, I have my own weapons of choice. I mix and match and I’m happy to say I have had real success in adopting and adapting those methodologies in different places with very positive outcomes; and therein lies the point. The methodologies can’t fail – people can. But come on, don’t let the onset of the cold winds and dark mornings get you all maudlin. Think of the opportunities for cocoa and hearty winter meals, kicking leaves and seeing your breath. Failure is a part of life, like the seasons. Embrace it as we are none of us immune to it. Don’t slate the method, don’t scapegoat the person. Look to the reasons why you are not getting the outcome you would expect or you would like and set about resolving them. It probably won’t be simple and you probably won’t get the answer straight out of a text book or from a Scrum or ITIL classroom, but then if it was easy it wouldn’t be called work.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Neil Baldwin, former circus clown, one time kit man at Stoke City FC, awarded honorary degree of Master of the University from Keele University, a force for good and a chap many of you may know of…

I’ve always wanted to be happy so I decided to be


Right now back to work, get it sorted, enjoy.


*seasonal affective disorder? Not really, we blame stuff in spring as well.