How to run mixed waterfall and agile projects.

Why a prince2 veteran and certified scrum master says agility is not about the tool but about the application of a mind-set.

Often, I hear people say that agile is the modern way of project delivery. You will hear that agile delivery focusses on value, where waterfall focusses on control and its sequential approach is wasteful by nature. However, is that so?

I would argue that there is value is thinking before executing.

Certain decisions have a big impact and these decisions will benefit from analysis before executing. Yes, you can always pivot but often this also bears significant costs. imagine you are planning to build your new family house and you are under pressure to deliver. Because you don’t want to waste any time, you give the order to start the construction of the foundation for a two-bedroom house.  Shortly after you realize that you need a foundation for a four-bedroom house. the consequences are painful and wasteful. If you just have had the patience to delay your decision a bit and think it through ….

Being able to recognize those critical decisions is key in successfully mixing linear and non-linear project delivery approaches.

That does not mean that all aspects of a project need to be worked out before starting the foundational work. You can work on different stages of a project in parallel.

Here are some tips when mixing both approaches.

  • Have a process to continuously capture and act on progressive insights. Translate them into actionable requirements if applicable.
  • Use risk management to prioritize and track the answering of big impact questions.
  • Inquire, Interpret, formulate, connect, verify and align. There is not one single truth. it is ok for people to have different perspectives and priorities. However, for effective collaboration it is essential that people work from a common understanding. Facilitate the building of this shared understanding.


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