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How did empirical process control become the preferred way to deal with complexity?

How did empirical process control become the preferred way to deal with complexity?

Unravelling the Intricacies of Empirical Process Control

While navigating my career as an Agile Consultant, a curious question often emerges: How did Empirical Process Control become the go-to approach for handling complexity? 🧐

While remaining a little unsure of the answer, let’s see what turns up.

But first, I must point out that intriguingly, I don’t necessarily believe it’s the preferred way but rather the most effective way. And taking this question one step further, I also have to say that Empirical Process Control is not new.

Let’s delve deeper!

Ancient Roots of Empiricism

Dating back to the philosophical realms of 600 BC, we encounter Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who talks a lot about the power of experiential learning – learning through doing – through experience. 🏺

His perspective emphasised the importance of understanding the world through experience rather than just intellectual contemplation. In other words, you learn by actually doing it rather than merely thinking about it.

Fast forward to today, and his age-old wisdom finds its relevance in the modern methodologies of Agile and Scrum. πŸš€ Both frameworks adopt a similar ethos, placing great value on ‘learning by doing’.

In the world of Agile and Scrum, the teams learn from their planning sessions and hands-on experiences with executing tasks, troubleshooting issues, and innovating solutions. This iterative learning and adapting are core principles of Scrum, underscoring the continued relevance of Heraclitus’ philosophy in today’s project environments. πŸ’‘

Roger Bacon, a 12th-century theologist and philosopher, underscored the importance of empirical experiences in gaining knowledge. As Bacon emphasised, Agile and Scrum teams lean into learning through doing, harnessing this ancient wisdom to navigate our complex digital world successfully. πŸš€

Merging Thought and Experience

As philosophy moves on and we fast forward to today, two primary modes of learning – thinking about problems and experiencing them, have been widely recognised. By now, this method equals certainty, but it has worked very well for us in the past.

Yet, when it comes to solving complex problems that are inherently unpredictable, the rational approach (solely thinking through the problem) falls short. This is where empirical process control shines by leveraging the power of experience and action. 🎯

Embracing the Empirical Approach

Empirical process control is almost second nature to us; it is how humans naturally tend to solve problems. I don’t think we have a preference, really. Years of evolution have made us realise that just thinking about solving problems isn’t the way.

We recognise that merely thinking isn’t always productive, so we act, experiment, and learn. Rational thought can’t predict exactly how things will work out, it’s impossible. The world is too complex, and problems can become too volatile to solve merely by thought alone.

Therefore, this iterative cycle of the act of doing and continuous improvement is what makes empiricism the most effective way to manage complexity in Agile methodologies or Agile Methodologies.

Complexity and Empirical Process Control

Given the volatile nature of complex problems, the tried and tested method of defined process control often fails as it requires a comprehensive understanding of the problem.

However, the uncertainty and unpredictability of complex problems make them difficult to comprehend fully. Hence, empirical process control, which thrives in such environments, becomes the obvious choice. πŸ”„

Embrace Empiricism, Embrace Success

In my view, it’s about both these ways of thinking and learning, then putting them together for the final output.

For me, the empirical process control preference comes about because we as a species have solved problems throughout humankind. We’ve learnt how to overcome obstacles.

Empirical Process Control is not merely a preferred methodology; it is the methodology that works. It aligns with our human instincts of learning through experience and trial and error, especially when dealing with complexity.

Whether you’re just beginning your journey with Scrum and Agile or are a seasoned practitioner, it’s essential to expand your horizons and understanding continually. Delving into how our learning processes have evolved can offer fresh insights into tackling complexity in today’s rapidly changing environments. πŸš€

So, if you’ve traditionally followed defined process control, consider diving into empirical process control. This method, underscored by learning through doing, could offer a new way to approach your work, ignite innovation, and elevate your team’s agility.

The exploration of new knowledge is a journey, a journey that Agile and Scrum encourage every day. πŸš€


Article Specific: Empirical Process Control, Agile Methodologies, Complexity, Experiential Learning, Continuous Improvement

Hashtags: #EmpiricalProcessControl, #AgileMethodologies, #Complexity, #ExperientialLearning, #ContinuousImprovement

#Agile, #AgileCoach, #Scrum, #ScrumMaster, #AgileCentre, #ProductOwner, #BusinessAnalyst, #AgileProjectManagement, #BusinessAgility, #ScrumTraining, #AgileProductDevelopment.

author avatar
John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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