Agile to Waterfall: An Unexpected Journey

Episode 74 - 01 Mar 2017

When I started making these videos, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I might create a few slides for the visuals, then write a bit of the script, then record some audio. Around I'd go, gradually iterating towards a final video.

Over time, I got better at it. And my process evolved. But did it evolve too far?


Please. Don't judge me too harshly. I can explain.

I didn't DECIDE to do waterfall. It kind of just... snuck up on me.

18 months ago, when I first started producing these videos, there was no trace of waterfall.

My ITERATIVE process

Nine times out of ten, I start with the visuals.

Usually with the help of Keynote. (Keynote is Apple's version of PowerPoint, by the way)

Occasionally, I Mix in with one or more of the following :

  • sketches
  • animation
  • stop motion
  • the occasional bit of live action

When I'd run out of steam on the visuals, I'd make a start on the script.

For me, the script is the hard part. So it wouldn't be long before I was back to add more visuals!

I'd go around that loop until the script was more or less "there".

Then I'd record the audio.

With audio and visual elements ready, I'd begin to piece together the final video.

Inevitably, there'd be gaps. Which would send me around the various loops again.

Finally, a finished video!

Agile is good

This highly iterative process, had much to commend it.

By and large, the end result was good.

But the process had one major drawback: it was really, really, really, time consuming.

Too time consuming.

Too time-consuming to the tune of 10, 15, sometimes 20 hours per week.

I needed to find ways to make my "effective" process more "efficient".

And over the weeks and months, I did make a couple of breakthroughs.

Start with the script

Too often, visual elements I produced early in the process, never made it to the finished video.

By moving the script writing to the beginning of the process, I halved the number of iterations between the script and the visuals.

Audio before visuals

It occurred to me, some weeks later, that I could remove the iterations altogether: by moving the record audio step to before create visuals.

Uh oh

Hang on just one second:

  1. Write the script - all of it
  2. Record the audio - all of it
  3. Create the visuals - all of them
  4. Edit the video.

That, my friends, is what I call waterfall.

There's no getting away from it.


The realisation came as a shock to me. But it shouldn't have.

Nor should I have felt bad about it.

After 12 months and 50 or so episodes, the process was no longer "complex".

On the continuum between uncertain and certain, it had moved from very uncertain to reasonably certain.

Whereas an Agile process is perfect for a project that is complex

a Waterfall process is more appropriate for a project that is... not complex.

Next time

So does this Story have a happy ending? From Agile to waterfall and live happily every after?

Alas no.

In was about to learn a hard lesson about waterfall

I'll tell you all about it, in the next episode.