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The Pepsi Challenge of Waterfall, Agile, or Kanban

I kind of enjoy it when people get all in a huff over which soda is the best.  It’s bad enough they can’t even decide what to call it. Is it soda, pop, or soda-pop?  I’ve even heard a few refer to any brown carbonated non-alcoholic beverages as a “Coke”.  I don’t get that at all.  I’m going to assume these people just don’t care.  All they want is a brown carbonated non-alcoholic beverage that will satisfy their thirst.  As far as soda-pop, I am the complete extreme opposite.  I drink Coca-Cola.  I don’t drink Coke; I don’t drink Pepsi.  If I ask you for a Coca-Cola and you ask me if Pepsi is OK, I’m going to respond with a stern but polite “No”.  But, at the end of the day, I am also just looking for something to satisfy my thirst.  But, I digress.

Since the Pepsi Challenge in the mid-70’s, there has been another battle raging.  Let’s call it the Delivery Challenge.  Regardless of what facts may be reports, detailing which approach lowers risk the most, which approach delivers the most value up front, or which approach leaves the stakeholders feeling the most satisfied, we all have our favorite.  If delivery approaches were soda-pop (yes, soda-pop) in a blind taste test, chances are we’d stick with our favorite regardless of what we may have picked.

From my own perspective, I don’t believe we should be so blind to these opportunities.  We should be open to the idea that formulas can be improved and we should be open to the idea that processes can as well.

When I’m dealing with the government client on a particular contract, I use Waterfall.  We’re talking Waterfall the size of Niagara Falls.  It’s not that I choose this approach (drink).  It’s all that is currently offered. When I’m managing my own personal projects and deliverables, I use Agile and Kanban.  I’m not saying one is better than the other!  But, when the choice is mine, I know what I like from each.  I ala carte the way I do things, so (as the customer) I get the most value while not bastardizing the original processes.

I know there are those out there who are cursing me.  They are strict Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper zealots.  Think of me as that kid down at the local Kwik-E-Mart who takes his cup and adds a little of each soda-pop in his 64 ounce cup.  It may look nasty but it sure tastes good.

…and at the end of the day, isn’t it important that I just satisfy my thirst?

Image source: USAGeorge

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of ALM Platforms at LeadingAgile. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon). Novice angel investor.

8 Responses to “The Pepsi Challenge of Waterfall, Agile, or Kanban”

  1. June 16, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I am in agreement that achieving the end result (satisfying your thirst) matters much more than how exactly you get there. That and there really is no one-size-fits-all approach for every single project under the sun. Heck, even the PMBOK (disclaimer: I work for PMI) says that it works for most projects most of the time. I’d rather just do what works instead of being completely rigid.

    • Derek Huether
      June 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm

      Andy, thanks for the comments. I like to believe the PMBOK lists “Expert Judgment” for a reason. Without it, we’d find ourselves drinking cool-aid with Jim Jones.

  2. June 16, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I am in agreement that achieving the end result (satisfying your thirst) matters much more than how exactly you get there. That and there really is no one-size-fits-all approach for every single project under the sun. Heck, even the PMBOK (disclaimer: I work for PMI) says that it works for most projects most of the time. I’d rather just do what works instead of being completely rigid.

    • Derek Huether
      June 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

      Andy, thanks for the comments. I like to believe the PMBOK lists “Expert Judgment” for a reason. Without it, we’d find ourselves drinking cool-aid with Jim Jones.

  3. June 16, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    What government client.

    DoD explicitly requires Spiral development processes in DoD 5000.02.

    Only post Milestone D, when in FOC, can Waterfall be the program management paradigm.

    • Derek Huether
      June 16, 2010 at 6:57 pm

      Glen, I advise a non-DoD client. Therefore, DoD 5000.02 does not apply. I think you missed the point of my post.

      Since you are in Colorado, do you drink “pop”? If so, is everyone who drinks soda wrong?
      That is the point of my post. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. Drink what you want to drink.
      Just don’t ask me to drink your cool-aid.

  4. June 16, 2010 at 11:40 am

    What government client.

    DoD explicitly requires Spiral development processes in DoD 5000.02.

    Only post Milestone D, when in FOC, can Waterfall be the program management paradigm.

    • Derek Huether
      June 16, 2010 at 11:57 am

      Glen, I advise a non-DoD client. Therefore, DoD 5000.02 does not apply. I think you missed the point of my post.

      Since you are in Colorado, do you drink “pop”? If so, is everyone who drinks soda wrong?
      That is the point of my post. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. Drink what you want to drink.
      Just don’t ask me to drink your cool-aid.

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