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Finding The Right Agile Framework

There are 50+ different agile frameworks of varying popularity and many questions about them. Some common questions include: What are the frameworks? Where’d they come from? Which one is best?

Which framework should I use?

Answer: None of them or all of them.

Agile frameworks all seek to define a processes behind delivery of something. They seek to bring order to disorder. They offer varying degrees of insight and contingencies. And in many cases, agile frameworks introduce a lot of extra cost & waste.

The Problem with Agile Frameworks

The problem with pursuing a one-size-fits-all approach to using a define agile framework is complex, but it can be distilled to two main points…

  1. Implementing a pre-packaged or defined framework will not expose organizational or process issues. It will AMPLIFY them.

  2. Don’t get stuck trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. An organization and its teams are unique. It is important to utilize an agile methodology or framework that is both a “best-fit” and scalable.

Agile frameworks have, in many cases, veered so far from the core tenants of agile delivery — that they’ve become anti-agile. In many cases, work is done, but potentially not shippable… handed off… reviewed. Cycles are spent… new sub-teams are created. Process oriented meetings occur… and so on.

  • Does it make sense for a small software startup to use the same agile practices as Toyota? — No.

  • Should a highly effective organization go through an agile transformation to a framework like SAFe, just to introduce contingencies such as “release trains” — Absolutely not

I am not saying that all frameworks get it wrong. In fact, some of the frameworks excel in their scaleability! Again, frameworks define a processes behind delivery and seek to bring order to disorder. Frameworks are necessary.

The issue is the starting point… the way of selecting & using the right framework. A “silver bullet” framework does not exist. And, what works for one does not work for all. So, in selecting a framework, it is imperative to fully understand what it means to be “agile”.

What’s Important

Being agile does not mean playing fast & loose. Being agile means focusing on delivering value; even if that means making adjustments. A framework can help facilitate delivery & define the related processes.

The main guiding principles of the “Agile Manifesto” are:

- “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” - “Working software over comprehensive documentation” - “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation” - “Responding to change over following a plan”

Using a Pre-packaged Framework… or not.

Using the wrong agile framework can be detrimental to success. It is important to consider the following:

  • Will the framework help the organization & teams adhere to the meaning of agile?

  • Does the framework help promote, or offer outlets for, the analysis of team performance?

  • Is the cost of implementation/overhead of a given framework feasible or worth it at this time?

  • Will the scalability of the framework positively affect organization or teams over time?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, then you have two options.

  • Shop around. If you are intent on using a pre-packaged or pre-defined agile framework, there are plenty to chose from. There are also plenty of accompanying training courses & “certifications” available to take your money.

  • Build your own. Why not build your own framework? It could be a small framework, or a large/complex one. It could be totally original, or use parts of other frameworks which make it “best-fit” your organization or teams!

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