This has been another busy week for me. It is amazing how exhausting and exhilarating attending a training class can be. I had the opportunity to participate in a Prosci Change Management Practitioner class. It was wonderful. My mind is now racing with all these ideas on continually improving our client engagements. I can’t wait to share these new or renewed ideas with my PB peeps. They may get tired of hearing me talk about it. During class, there were so many takeaways but one specific statement resonated deeply.  

“Make Common Sense Common Practice”

Maybe this resonated with me so much because I use a variation of this phrase in my coaching as well,  with executives or development teams or anyone in between. When we are discussing changes and what is the right amount of documentation or the right approach in setting up a team, as examples, I typically say “Common sense should prevail”. For me, one of the beautiful things about agile is that it looks and feels slightly different for everyone, for every organization. Agile is a mindset. It is not a hard and fast list of rules that must be followed exactly. It is not a checklist of things to do. Each person, each organization is different. What works for one group may not work for another. 

The Agile Manifesto simply states:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

While I say the manifesto simply states, it’s really not that simple. This is where “Common Sense Prevails” comes into play for me. Let’s review “Working software over comprehensive documentation”. This is not stating that documentation goes away. What it says to me is let’s spend more time and energy on creating valuable working software instead of writing out tons and tons of useless documentation. Don’t get me wrong, I value documentation. It is a great and necessary thing.  We aren’t barbarians. We aren’t carrying around pitch forks saying burn all the documents. Quite the opposite.

What I am saying is that each organization will need to use their common sense to determine what is the right amount of documentation, working toward reducing the amount of unnecessary documentation generated. In some situations, organizations might actually increase documentation. I have been in organizations that have no documentation and organizations that have cabinets full of documents that have never been touched once they were printed and filed away. Creating a simple standard coding guideline for a team might be advantageous if it does not exist. Or maybe you only have a single development team and creating that document may not be a high priority or even necessary. Or maybe you are in a highly regulated environment that mandates specific documentation. The variations can go on and on. Each situation is unique. Use your common sense to determine what is best in your situation and reevaluate over time. What is the right amount today might not be right 6 months from now.