Agility and frameworks

One of my followers asked me if I have experience in working within an environment where the company tried to S_Fe themselves into agility and how I deal with that. Of course I have (multiple) examples where an own mix of frameworks have been introduced, and I have certainly some strong opinions about some frameworks. However, when setting up this blog post, I promised myself not to run into rants, simply because that is too easy and too many other agilists are already doing that on LinkedIn.

The topic is however somewhat broad, so I have some hesitation on getting into this topic too deeply. Therefore I will reframe the question into how do I deal with (several) frameworks in relation to creating agility.

First of all, my background started with scrum. About 13 years ago that was one of the most commonly known and used agile frameworks. Besides that I was working at a company where only one IT team existed, so it is kind of natural that you end up with Scrum. A bit later I discovered the Agile Manifesto, which inspired me a lot, specifically since I already lived the values from it before ever having read them.

If you are joining other companies, and those companies are a bit bigger than small, there is a big chance that you run into multiple teams environments. Since I have been working within Technology and Industry domains a long time, I mostly have been working for companies that are kind of slower into embracing the agility flow. I believe that this type of companies mainly originate from the complicated “hardware” domain, where some physical products needs to be built and software is just an add-on. So seeking solutions in an lean environment is quite more attractive and effective. Since IT and thus software have become a much bigger part of the whole product, including rising effects like the cloud, IoT, Big Data and AI, these companies have mostly not changed their strategies and so “IT wants to be agile, and we have a glass ceiling to prevent them from ruining our efficient approach from Lean” has been born.

That is the world where I come from, so actually I have had to deal with that almost all of my career so far. Since I am curious, I do not shy away from such a challenge, so I always will find ways to challenge the status quo and no, that was not always as much appreciated. Specifically since some (scaling) frameworks can be abused to keep the status quo (and partly have been designed with that intent), nowadays I always check if there might be any chance that I really can make a difference.

One of the ways I do that, is by asking a specific question during intake interviews. It sounds like: “he, I notice that you use frameworks X or Y within your company, and I am wondering whether that framework is your final destination or just a starting point on your agile journey?”. The answer to this question, of course corelated to the chosen frameworks, gives me an indication if I might be successful as an agile coach or that the company is just looking for a framework installer (in which case I am out).

In my opinion a framework or method is just a potential solution for a certain group of problems we try to solve. So even though I see a lot of value in scrum, it is certainly not always the right solution. And most frameworks contain multiple solution ideas, that may be supportive as well. I don’t believe that blindly following a framework or method is the best way forward, even if you have paid big bucks to a big consultancy company to give you some advice on that matter. Anyone familiar with such an approach that has become a huge success?! I don’t need to say more… Change requires patience, and requires you to experiment, find out what works and what doesn’t and use those outcomes to define your next steps… Sound like the Plan-Do-Check-Act (or equivalent) cycle, right?!

During any assignment I evaluate how the choice of frameworks has an impact on the agility of the people and the systems. For that, I mostly take the Agile Manifesto as my guide. Though it is a bit outdated and not covering the current agile world as a whole, it is still valuable enough as a starting point. Next, I will look for opportunities to become a bit more agile within the boundaries set. And of course I will challenge those boundaries and the choices being made, since real change needs real work and real involvement.

So bottom line, I pick up different challenges, since I want to discover in which kind of environments I can make an impact, and in which I cannot. Even though I have strong opinions about certain frameworks, it is not a reason to move away from the challenge to make a real impact, provided that I feel that there is a potential change where I can make such an impact. In this way I can extend my portfolio of services that I offer in order to create a safe space to thrive…

What do you do to help companies to thrive?

Did you ever run into a comparable situation? And you want to exchange? Just explore a bit through my website and just contact me.

Previous post: Cultivating cultures