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Badgile – Avoiding Mistakes in Agile Project Management

Blog: Good eLearning

When it comes to project management practices, there isn’t much that’s built from the ground up. Many of the world’s most successful organizations follow established frameworks and methodologies that have been around for decades and which are still re-examined and updated on a regular basis. It’s easier, efficient, and enables managers to benefit from ideas and insight that may well fall outside of their personal experiences.

The same can be said for ‘Agile’. Originally a style of managing software development, it has since been applied to project management. Agile is far less centralized and top-down than waterfall style management, with more autonomy for individual project team members and an iterative approach to establishing, working towards, and benefiting from targets.

However, unlike other big names in project management such as PRINCE2 and Managing Successful Programmes (MSP), Agile remains more of a style of working than a strictly defined methodology. There are differing ideas on what constitutes an ‘Agile framework’, not only between software and project management teams but also between organizations of different sizes, sectors, and so on.

Because of this, whenever someone chooses to adopt Agile simply because of its prestige, it can be surprisingly easy to make a mistake.

What is ‘Badgile’?

In his 2019 article, ‘Badgile – The Horror Stories of Agile Gone Wrong’, software engineering leader James Willis coined the term ‘Badgile’. It was based on his understanding that, for Agile to succeed, it must be consciously adapted to suit individual teams.

He stated, “I have worked with my team to build what I think is a pretty great process, but I would never think to pick it up wholesale and impose it upon other teams in other organizations. A great process is about layering principles onto individual situations, what comes out is probably different variations per team even within the same organization. When I say bad or wrong, I mean indisputably bad, just a whole pile of stinky wrongness…”

In many ways, Agile itself is a buzzword, but there are also several that fall under the Agile umbrella, such as ‘stand-ups’, ‘sprints’, and ‘Scrum’. While these all have their own definitions, they too require conscious effort to apply properly. They are not, as sad as it may sound, magic bullets that help teams hit their targets every single time.

James continues by discussing his own experiences leading teams: “There are a lot of reasons teams struggle to put a good Agile process in place:

What does this all mean? To put it simply, Agile becomes ‘Badgile’ when users do not take the time to understand the different elements of Agile in a way that lets them identify when, why, and how to apply them properly. 

For many teams, a quasi-Agile approach is not necessarily superior to waterfall methods. This is true even if the structure, goals, and resources of these teams would typically favor Agile over traditional project management. Others may well enjoy gains with a flawed approach but will nonetheless fail to reach the level of success that comes from truly mastering the style.

So, for an organization that can benefit from adopting Agile, how can managers, supervisors, team members, and stakeholders avoid falling into the Badgile trap?

Avoiding mistakes in Agile project management

Given what we’ve written above, it’d be somewhat hypocritical to offer an exact guide for avoiding bad Agile practices. As we have said, using Agile correctly requires the ability to adapt the approach in a way that suits your own needs, structure, and environment.

As such, we will be laying out some of the most important considerations to make when managing Agile projects:

Studying Agile project management

Many old school Agile practitioners will tell you that it’s better to learn Agile on the job than from a syllabus. This is certainly the case for some people. However, as we mentioned at the start of the article, very little in project and program management is built from the ground up. For individuals and organizations that want to start enjoying the benefits of Agile as efficiently as possible, Agile training can be the best option.

For project management, two of the most significant Agile certifications are PRINCE2 Agile and AgilePM. 

Good e-Learning is an award-winning online training provider with a diverse portfolio of fully accredited courses. Want to find out more about our approach to Agile online training? Visit the Good e-Learning website, or contact a member of our team today!

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