Prince2 Agile - a major disappointment

A new guide linking Prince2 and Agile adds to the confusion

In 2015, Axelos published their new “Prince2 Agile” guide with a great fanfare. This is a new companion to Prince2, designed to sit alongside Prince2. Unfortunately, the book is a major disappointment on all fronts. Rather than helping the Prince2 project manager to move forward, it adds to the confusion about Agile.

Adding agility by the kilogram?

The new book is an epic work which is purely additive. In the name of Agility we get 342 extra pages, an extra kilogram of paper. The combined work has nearly 700 pages.

Prince2 Agile - a major disappointment

It adds a lot to Prince2 and takes nothing away. It keeps all of Prince2 – all of Prince2’s seven processes and seven themes in their entirety.

The book adds to Prince2 three different variants of Agile – SCRUM, Kanban and LeanStartup. That’s quite a challenge, indeed some might say it’s Mission Impossible. The size of the challenge explains the size of the book.

Is all of Prince2 really “Best Practice”?

The book is totally faithful to Prince2 theory, all the 327 pages of the original Prince2 book. Prince2 is taken as the bible.

The new book is based on two false assumptions

– that the whole of Prince2 is best practice

– that the Prince2 book published in 2009 is still best practice in 2016

There is no recognition that large parts of Prince2 are not used in practice: if you don’t simplify Prince2, it does not work. And neither is there recognition that people have already developed proven best practice to blend Prince2 with Agile.

Start with what you actually do (practice not theory)

One of the Agile variants that the new book tries to integrate with Prince2 is Kanban. If only the authors had understood Kanban! One of the founding principles of Kanban is “Start with what you do now” (read more here). This book is based on the direct opposite to Kanban: “Start with what you are supposed to do.”  This new book is all about Prince2 theory. You are supposed to use all 342 pages of Prince2, and it simply doesn’t work.

Even in the classroom, this book doesn’t work. In training courses based on this book, the approach is so far from Agility that it causes confusion. And when people fail the exam (and the failure rate is high), it generates disappointment and anger.

Time for Good Practice

The starting point to making Prince2 more Agile should be genuine Good Practice.  Good Practice is the focus of Lean3. Watch this space. 

Written by Jeff on October 12, 2016 in blog
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