Crystal Clear

Crystal Clear

Crystal Clear is one of the agile methodologies meant for projects with small teams, usually less than ten people. The size of the group matters since the smaller the team, the easier it is to adopt a methodology that works best for the project. This methodology focuses on the fostering the lightest, most habitable one that is sure to produce excellent outcomes. Developed by Alistair Cockburn, Crystal Clear props a few principles that get a project from a bad place to a much safer zone. It puts more iteration on the people rather than the process and works best when the team is working on projects that are non-critical. Also, it is more flexible approach since it allows other agile methodologies like the XP and RVP to copy better practices from it and vice versa.

History and Roots of Crystal Clear

Crystal Clear is just part of the Crystal family of methodologies developed by Alistair Cockburn. In 1991, Alistair was tasked with developing the most effective software development methodology. He had to interview and study many project teams. During his research, Alistair discovered that a method centered on people rather than the process works better than one that is process-centric. He also found that you should pick and tailor the strategy to the group and the task since no best methodology worked for all projects. Come 1994, he actualized the idea, and it was a considerable achievement. He finally published the book Surviving Object-Oriented Projects. Four years later, he built up a group of strategies and named them “Crystal”. Then, the most fluid methodology of them all he called Crystal Clear. The idea behind it is that projects outcomes are better when there is a small team of people involved.

Principles and Goals of Crystal Clear

Crystal Clear methodology operates on a set of 7 principles, three of which are paramount and the remaining four are optional but highly advisable.

Frequent Delivery

It is more critical to deliver working frequently, proper codes to users otherwise you may find that you provided a useless product when it is too late to make changes.

Reflective Improvement

Crystal Clear isn’t prescriptive and surrenders many things over to the team to think about them and agree after discourse. Experimentation is vital here. Thus, the team should cooperate to find out which ideas work better and how they enhance their future functioning practices.

Osmotic Communication

The team should work in the same room. Doing this enables members to gain from each other regardless of whether it is inactively and gradual. This way the project gets completed without so much structure.

Personal Safety

Members should accept and respect the ideas of one another without ridiculing or reprimanding them. The main thing here is that there should exist mutual trust within the team so that members can work through their problems and improve performance.


Project leaders should set priorities for the project and communicate them clearly to the team. Afterward, team members should be given space and time to work on their tasks without interruption.

Easy Access to Expert Users

Developers should put their software out there and listen to users feedback. They have to do this frequently so that they can use the feedback to improve their products.

Technical Environment

The project should be undertaken under suitable environment, fully equipped with automates tests, frequent integration, and effective configuration management.

Process During A Cycle

The iteration cycle of the Crystal Clear methodology alludes to task estimation, development and celebration. The entire process should take 1-3 months to complete. However, the length varies depending on the team. Initially, there is iteration planning where the team comes up with estimates and concocts daily and integration cycles. When the tasks are completed, the team holds a reflection workshop to go over the process and celebrate the results. During the iteration period, the team gets to adjust or add to its prerequisites set, experimenting with UI designs, expanding the system’s foundation, demonstrating it to real users and including functionality, adding tests and improving the automation capacities of their workplace.

When To Use Crystal Clear

Crystal Clear proves to be useful when the team has assessed most approaches and found them to be excessively constraining, intrusive or troublesome. This technique doesn’t seek to be the best instead adequate with the goal that the team can shape themselves and put it to use. Since each organization and task is somewhat unique, even Crystal Clear isn’t predetermined. First, the organization has to find its shortcomings and its strong points. Once that is done, the team now has to use suggestions of the Crystal clear methodology to capitalize on their strong points.