PRINCE2 Agile™ - why so many myths?

PRINCE2 Agile™ - why so many myths?

It is only a month since the launch of PRINCE2 Agile and all of the hard work put in over the last year has turned to relief and excitement.

A bit like cyclist Chris Froome going up Alpe d’Huez the other day in the Tour de France – it may be hard work during the ascent, but the satisfaction on reaching the top is amazing. And like Chris Froome, you cannot get to the top without a massive team effort and everyone pulling together.

Keith RichardsIt’s too early to have any idea of the true success of PRINCE2 Agile yet. The early indications are positive with hundreds of trainers and training organizations registered to be accredited to deliver PRINCE2 Agile training and exams, but ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ and only time will tell.

One surprising development already is the amount of debate about PRINCE2 Agile and how many myths and misconceptions seem to be stated as facts!

One common myth that I spent most of my life believing was that sushi is raw fish. I only found out that it wasn’t a couple of years ago! Was that me being stupid or was it just a case of my ignorance?

Anyway, here are some of the most common myths about PRINCE2 Agile debunked:

“PRINCE2® is not a waterfall approach.”

Saying that PRINCE2 is “waterfall” is just like saying that sushi is raw fish. PRINCE2 allows you to break a project into stages (which it calls management stages) but you can do that any way you choose. A stage could deliver a set of features or it could be a technical phase (e.g. design). A key strength of PRINCE2 is that you can apply it to a wide variety of situations.

“PRINCE2 can be agile.”

PRINCE2 is a project management framework. The current version (created in 2009) is fully enabled to work in an agile context, but it is up to you how you apply and tailor the PRINCE2 approach. That is exactly what PRINCE2 Agile is all about! It is also worth saying that you can’t really call PRINCE2 agile either, as it all depends how you tailor and apply it – it is just a framework. It is a bit like a table fork – you can use it in a variety of ways to suit your needs.

“PRINCE2 does not have detailed plans, with fixed requirements from the start.”

Even with the previous version of PRINCE2 this has never been the case. You can do this if you wish – that is your choice but the PRINCE2 guidance advises you to do the opposite and if you are working in an agile context this would be a strange thing to do!

“Agile doesn’t necessarily need PRINCE2 to provide governance and control.”

Firstly, a lot of agile exists in a business as usual (BAU) context and therefore it doesn’t need the benefits of using a project framework, for no other reason than the work isn’t a project! The agile way of working contains many controls to ensure that work has proper governance and if your agile isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it with PRINCE2. However, if you are using agile in a project context you may well see PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile as an attractive option to build on your existing practices. PRINCE2 is very strong at project management and agile is very strong at product delivery. If you have invested a lot in agile and/or PRINCE2 it may be possible to get more from your investment without having to start from scratch and reinvent the wheel.

So how many of these myths did you think were true? A good guide to how clued up someone is about agile and PRINCE2 is their absence of prejudice. There are lot people who have misunderstood PRINCE2 and applied it badly; this is the fault of the organisations and individuals applying it, not PRINCE2. I have been a consultant for many years and I have seen agile equally misunderstood and also applied badly. Again, this is not the fault of agile; it is just bad practice.

So why are there so many myths? Is it a case of blissful ignorance like my misunderstanding of sushi or is there something more sinister at play? Why would anyone want to perpetuate a myth?

Anyway – I’m off to have some sashimi!

Do you think that the PRINCE2 and Agile methods for project management complement each other? Have you used both within the same project? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments box below.

More AXELOS Blogs from Keith Richards

PRINCE2® Agile: Creating Best Practice that even an "Agilista" can live with!

The genesis of PRINCE2 Agile – a work of agile collaboration

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