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Tear Down the Method Prisons! Set Free the Practices!

An ACM Queue Publication

The way we develop software struggles to keep pace with changes in technology and business. Even with the rise of agile, people still flip-flop from one branded method to another, throwing away the good with the bad and behaving more like religious cultists than like scientists.

The problem is that the professional practices that have been developed and refined over many years, and that together represent our shared industry knowledge and experience, are all too often imprisoned within proprietary method jails. The only option that development organizations and teams see themselves as having is to adopt this method or that method wholesale, and to reject all others—whereas, in fact, what is needed is for organizations and teams to be free to select the professional practices that they need, from wherever these may be defined, and use them in whatever permutations and combinations are appropriate to meet the exact set of circumstances and challenges they face.

There is a simple way to break out of this cycle of unhealthy competition among methods—which are more similar than they are different—and that is to free the practices from their method prisons. Free the practices to rise and fall on their own merits. Free the practices so that teams can experiment, innovate, and plug and play with proven practices to create the way of working that they need today and to evolve seamlessly into the one they need tomorrow.

This article explains why we need to break out of this repetitive dysfunctional behavior, and it introduces Essence, a new way of thinking that promises to free the practices from their method prisons and thus enable true learning organizations.

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