Geir Amsjø, CST and Agile Coach working for Lean Venture, based in Oslo, Norway shares his thoughts:
PRINCE2 is very popular in IT in Norway – especially in government projects. I also believe it is widely used in Sweden and Denmark, but not in Finland. Even if development of PRINCE2 was funded by the UK government it would be pretty much abandoned there for public digitization because Government Digital Services wisely prefer and rely on Design Thinking and Agile these days.
PRINCE2 is probably one of the best Project Management frameworks for IT there is. It contains “stages” which, at a glance, may look similar to iterations. But PRINCE2 all about Management and Governance, while “following the plan” and very little about true adaptiveness. PRINCE2 is very prescriptive and heavy and contains a bunch of roles, documents, process steps and everything one would expect from a classic PM framework.
Many of my CSM/CSPO class participants have PRINCE2 certifications and they often tell me that it would be extremely hard to combine PRINCE2 with Scrum, or another agile framework, for the following reasons:
- There are a lot of committed up front planning, prediction and estimation
- Changes are not embraced but are rather regarded as exceptions and they need to go through cumbersome Change Control Board
- Decisions are hard to make on-the-spot, in a decentralized fashion. They need to be escalated up the chain of command for approvals and sign-offs
- Project Managers is viewed as the authority and can override teams’ decisions
I became curious about the new PRINCE2 Agile a couple of years ago, and attended a sales meeting from a training provider. As it was expected “Agile” was more slap-onto PRINCE2 itself, not a way to change the ladder.
Ironically, PRINCE2 Agile teaching contained all the right references and buzzwords, and it was very open to iterative approaches. It was clearly focused on learning and exploration. So far so good…
And I have had discussions with people who were quite satisfied with the Agile version of PRINCE2. There was no reason to doubt that PRINCE2 Agile could represented a big step in the right direction compared to the traditional version. But how on earth can it “be agile” if you put Agile on top of a heavy framework like PRINCE2? Would it not be like putting a lipstick on a pig?…
All heavy process descriptions lead to forming a certain mindset: “Please obey the procedures. Don´t think for yourself, because you don´t really own the problem.” This would be clearly incompatible with the agile mindset.