20 September 2008

Adaptive is not the opposite of planned.

Glenn agreed with me on the idea of planned and adaptive being two poles on a scale. Funnily enough this caused me to reassess the idea.

Planning is indispensible, plans are useless. Plans that don't accomodate change are stupid.

Are you stupid? I didn't think so. (You are reading this, after all.)

So what is the opposite of adaptive? It stikes me that the answer is stubborn.

I need to re-do my model. And with planned now freed up I think I'll apply it to the Y axis. Opposite of planned = unplanned.

And now we have another think about where Agile methods come into play.

Glenn? Other readers? Thoughts?


  1. I think planned vs unplanned is incomplete.

    I don't know if this is typical or not, but when I used SCRUM we took a day after each sprint to plan the work during the next sprint. I don't know textbook SCRUM to the letter, so maybe I was breaking a rule there. Seemed to work pretty well though. At the beginning of the project, I still planned the work at a very high level.

    I would say the amount of planning in Agile (at least the way I have implemented it) requires just as much planning as waterfall. It's just spread out over the life of the project, and you know more about what to plan for. There's less execution wasted on things that don't help meet stakeholder needs.

    My suggestion is to use 3 tiers on the vertical..."planned once","planned iteratively", and "unplanned".

    Move the "stupid" labels up into unplanned. If your scope includes projects outside of software development, then rigid planning up front is not "stupid" in most cases. If you are building a house, it is very smart to plan well in the beginning, and stubbornly hold to your plan unless your a forced to deviate for the good of the project.

    Josh Nankivel

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Anonymous4:52 am

    Hi Craig,

    I'm following this with interest.

    Would "rigid" work in place of "stupid"?


  4. Plans don't kill projects, people with plans do.

    It's not the fact if something is planned or not. You always need to have an image of what will happen in the near future. Problems arise when consequences arise from the accuracy of the predictions.

    When people are monitored and judged for compliance to the plan e.g. you get all kinds of non-adaptive behavior.

    The plan is a tool. A plan on its own is of a different category then rigid. BUT when plan-driven is associated with central control and people are treated like machine parts (Taylor), THAN its getting the opposite of adaptive.

    It's in short more everything that people associate with "planned" than planning as such.

    Hope you my ramblings make some sense :)


  5. Anonymous5:27 am

    It's a doctrinal difference, isn't it? The non-planners consider themselves to be adaptive, creative and responsive. They think in terms of rigidity (bad) versus fluidity (good).

    This is where the doctrinal differences bite: they think I'm obsessed with irrelevant detail, I think they are flighty and unpredictable.

    I've worked with a couple of non-planning PMs (such things exist!) and because I couldn't beat them, I had temporarily to join them.

    Like most rollercoaster rides it was scary but it was also fun. And like most roller-coaster rides it wasn't actually the quickest, cheapest or most direct way of getting from A to B.

    Cool analysis, and cool diagram. Food for thought.

    Thank you.


  6. Craig, I really like your diagram. Though I would suggest the following change:

    One axis is about *adaptation* (feedback) and the other axis is about *anticipation* (planning).

    Good agile = adaptation + anticipation.

    Bad agile = adaptation, no anticipation

    Formal = anticipation, no adaptation

    Hacking = neither

  7. Craig,
    Good concept here. In the A&D space one of the proposal assessment metrics is "how adpative is the Integrated Master Schedule" is change, sometime disruptive change?