“So Rob” you say… “if its not a set of rules, then where do the rule come in?”
“Ah ha” – I respond, well the rules come in at the beginning…. Check out the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_model_of_skill_acquisition). Here you will see that people are at different levels of competence at different things. In order to learn and gain competence you start off as a novice. Novices must first start with the rules… quoting Wikipedia here exactly..:
“In the novice stage, a person follows rules as given, without context, with no sense of responsibility beyond following the rules exactly. Competence develops when the individual develops organizing principles to quickly access the particular rules that are relevant to the specific task at hand; hence, competence is characterized by active decision making in choosing a course of action. Proficiency is shown by individuals who develop intuition to guide their decisions and devise their own rules to formulate plans. The progression is thus from rigid adherence to rules to an intuitive mode of reasoning based on tacit knowledge”
This might further be explained by Yorkshire puddings.
Or rather how to make them. We in England all love Yorkshire puddings. But how do you make them? Simple just google a recipe from the BBC recipe website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/search?keywords=yorkshire+pudding&chefs=&programmes=) the problem is that currently there are 35 recipes for yorkshire puddings. All of them are relatively different, and few if any really talk in depth about the technique of making them.
There you have it, the paradox of choice with recipes, the temptation is to say some work and some don’t after you have tried some. The real answer lies in understanding that each recipe was created in a context, and depending on a series of circumstances (ie. how naturally gifted a cook you are, your cooking style, how good your oven is, the regional quality of ingredients etc…) some of these will work for you and some wont. Not only that but you will find that after picking a favourite recipe, you will probably modify it yourself to your personal preference, perhaps you want a little mustard in the mix, or you might want them fluffier or cooked more etc…..
so what do the Yorkshire puddings tell us?
If you think my Yorkshire puddings talk to me, they don’t. However the example of the Yorkshire puddings does tell us that we are not to take rules as values, and what works for some wont work for others, it doesn’t make it wrong, it just makes not not applicable to you at this moment, but it also could be “not for you… YET”. Some Agile ideas that don’t work in one company will work in others and vice versa, but as long as they are supporting the Agile values which should be at the heart of the framework then that’s ok.