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Derek is a drinker of copious amounts of coffee. He is a thinker of what makes sense. He is a user of Agile and Kanban. He is a writer of an upcoming book. He is a talker of all topics. As an author and motivated project leader, he inspires and empowers project teams. Don't ask him the time because he'll tell you how to build the clock. To pay the bills, Derek is currently an adviser to a Federal Agency Project Management Office. Derek has posted 9 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

The Pepsi Challenge of Waterfall, Agile, and Kanban

09.29.2010
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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 reported, 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 a particular government client on a particular contract, I may use waterfall.  We're talking waterfall the size of Niagara Falls.  It's not that I choose this (drink) approach.  It may be all that is currently offered. But 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 to 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?

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Derek Huether.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)