How to Teach Agile Those With No (Bad) Waterfall Experience

Recently, I had an opportunity to give a series of agile development lectures to students. Since the differences between agile and waterfall was my main driver during my first agile days, I started with it. But soon, I realized that none of them have any waterfall experience. They don’t know how bad it is, so they’re unable to realize real benefits from agile development. Of course, they guess there are some problems like responding to a change, but they have never felt waterfall problem on their own, so were unable to “buy” agile at first.

Then I remembered my CSM course in Vienna. There were some people who started their agile experience since day 1 at their workplace. It was a different kind of people compared to my students, but very similar about their waterfall experience – none.  They were very positive about agile, so I asked myself what was their strongest motive to use agile. The answer was obvious – a practice. They learned and “fell in love” with agile by doing agile, not by comparing it to waterfall.

Then I decided to teach my students with as much practice as possible. We did a hands on lab to learn TDD, simulated a sprint zero at a real case and learned muda by optimizing their classroom environment. It turned out that they like it a lot. They seem to have “bought” agile principles in an easy way.

So, if you need to convince a group of people who are free of bad waterfall experience, don’t talk too much about differences between agile and waterfall. Save this story for those of our kind who were frustrated by waterfall. Instead, try to teach them agile principles by giving them as much practice as you can.


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