Crystal Methods Methodology

Alistair Cockburn developed the Crystal Methods approach. His focus is on the people, interaction, community, skills, talents, and communications with the belief that these are what have the first-order effect on performance. Process, he says, is important, but secondary.

Cockburn's philosophy translate into a recognition that each team has a different set of talents and skills and therefore each team should use a process uniquely tailored to it. And it means that the process should be minimized - barely significant.

The use of the word “crystal” refers to the various facets of a gemstone - each a different face on an underlying core. The underlying core represents values and principles, while each facet represents a specific set of elements such as techniques, roles, tools, and standards. Cockburn also differentiates between methodology, techniques, and policies. A methodology is a set of elements (practices, tools); techniques are skill areas such as developing use cases; and policies dictate organizational “musts”.