PMI Belgium

Interview:  Agile myths busted

With: Henny Portman

By: Frank Turley   



Many of us are using agile ways of working and Henny observes several agile myths. In a recent online talk (Pint of PM webinar, April 29), Henny gave a list of agile myths and busted a few. Here I have asked him about 4 of those myths.

Myth 1: Scrum is agile, is agile Scrum?

At this moment there are more than seventy known and less known agile approaches, frameworks or methods available. To get a first impression of the different approaches, I try to bring some structure in the jungle of approaches, methods and frameworks. In my bird’s eye view on the agile forest[1] picture, I position the best-known agile approaches in a structure. The approaches, frameworks or methods are positioned within the ‘One-time programs / projects’ sections or within ‘Business as usual’ / indefinite, or both. On the other side, the approaches, frameworks or methods are clustered around team, product or program and portfolio level. In the dark blue boxes, we see agile approaches that are only applicable in IT-focused organizations. All other approaches can be used within IT and non-IT-oriented organizations (light blue colored). I haven’t mapped all the known approaches, frameworks and methods in this figure, and to be honest, I think there is a lot of duplication and probably commercial drivers play a role too to ‘develop’ the next kid on the block without added value in comparison with the existing approaches, frameworks or methods. But for sure this myth is busted!

 Agile myths 1

(1) For the complete article see:

Myth 2: Incremental and iterative are synonyms?

During training classes, I often notice that students mix the words iterative and incremental together. If you look at the attached figure you see four quadrants[1]. In the left lower corner, we see the approach where there are no iterations and no increments. This is the waterfall approach. All activities (design, analysis, build, test and deploy) are performed once for the entire project. In the lower right quadrant, we see an incremental approach without iterations. This is a staged or incremental delivery of smaller parts the product. All activities for a given stage (design, analysis, build, test and deploy) are performed once. Within a given stage the scope is fixed, but the total product is based on a more dynamic or flexible scope. In the left upper quadrant, we see a spiral or iterative approach without increments. A good example of this approach is design thinking. In the graph you see a sequence of the activities framing, analysis, idea generation, realization and reflection. This sequence will be performed repeatedly or iteratively where in every iteration you get closer to the final, correct or required, product. In the upper right quadrant, we see the agile approach with increments and iterations. Scrum is a good example of this approach. At the end of each increment, often called a sprint or timebox there is a delivery of an increment of the product. This increment is the result of many iterations to develop small but correct parts, often called user stories or backlog items, of the product. The final product will be delivered incrementally. In this agile approach we have a dynamic or flexible scope. Myth busted!

Myth 3: An agile approach delivers the same results as a waterfall approach?

Let’s assume we are going to build a banking app and use a waterfall approach (lower left corner). It was agreed that a list of 250 requirements will be delivered. After ten months and lots of discussions an app with 250 features was delivered. The customer was not really happy and uses around 100 features. If the same app was developed by using an agile approach, we see an incremental delivery of an app with more and more features. After every delivery the customer gave feedback and adding and modifying features. After 6 months the customer was very happy and has an app with 150 features (only 100 were in the original list). Myth busted!

Myth 4: The first product increment is an MVP?

To bust this myth, you must understand that the first product increment you can use is the minimum marketable product (MMP, see figure). MVP stands for minimum viable product (Eric Ries, Lean Startup) and is a version of a new product or service which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort. The MVP for the Dropbox service was a simple movie. This means that the P in MVP could be a completely different product in comparison with the final product. An MVP is often used at the beginning of a product development process to check if there is a viable business case otherwise the project will not commence. Myth busted!


Agile myths 2


Henny Portman is blogger/reviewer (, author, international speaker and partner, trainer and senior consultant P3M3 Maturity of HWP Consulting.  





[2] For the complete article see:

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