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No frameworks: How we can take agile back

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A fundamental philosophy from the early days of Agile, and particularly of XP, is that teams should own their process. Today we would say that they should be allowed, and better yet, enabled, to choose their own way of working (WoW).
This was a powerful vision, but it was quickly abandoned to make way for the Agile certification gold rush. Why do the hard work of learning your craft, of improving your WoW via experimentation and learning, when you can instead become a certified master of an agile method in two days or a program consultant of a scaling framework in four? It sounds great, and certainly is great for anyone collecting the money, but 18 years after the signing of the Agile Manifesto as an industry we’re nowhere near reaching Agile’s promise. Nowhere near it.
We had it right in the very beginning, and the lean community had it right all along – teams need to own their process, they must be enabled to choose their WoW. To do this we need to stop looking for easy answers, we must reject the simplistic solutions that the agile industrial complex wants to sell us, and most importantly recognize that we need #NoFrameworks.

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No frameworks: How we can take agile back

  1. 1. #NoFrameworks How We Can Take Agile Back! Scott Ambler | Vice President & Chief Scientist, Disciplined Agile Project Management Institute October 13, 2020 © Project Management Institute. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. Scott Ambler @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 2 pmi.org/disciplined-agile • Co-creator of Disciplined Agile • VP & Chief Scientist, Disciplined Agile at PMI • Thought Leader behind Agile Modeling and Agile Data methods • Twitter: @scottwambler • linkedin.com/in/sambler/
  3. 3. Agenda 1. What is a framework? 2. What is the problem with frameworks? 3. How effective are frameworks in practice? 4. What actually works? 5. How can we take agile back? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 3
  4. 4. What is a Framework? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 4
  5. 5. What is a Framework? Possible Definitions for a Prescriptive Framework: Collins: A framework is a particular set of rules, ideas, or beliefs which you use in order to deal with problems or to what to do. Cambridge: A system of rules, ideas, or beliefs that is used to plan or decide something. MacMillan: A system of rules, laws, agreements, etcetera that establish the way that something operations in business, politics, or society. Possible Definition for a Flexible Framework: MacMillan: A set of principles, ideas, etcetera that you use when you are forming your decisions and judgments. @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 5
  6. 6. The Problem With Frameworks @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 6
  7. 7. Frameworks Define Principles, Rules and Beliefs But what if the rules aren’t applicable? What happens when your situation changes? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 7
  8. 8. Prescriptive Frameworks Solve a Specific Problem But what if you don’t have that problem? What happens once you’ve solved that problem? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 8
  9. 9. Frameworks Box You In But what if the language of the framework’s limits your ability to discover other ideas? What if the framework’s “best practices” aren’t? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 9
  10. 10. Frameworks Are Oversold What if your organization or team is already pretty good? What if your problems aren’t so easy to solve? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 10
  11. 11. Flexible Frameworks Require You to Use Judgement and Make Decisions But what if you don’t know what your options are? What if you don’t know how to compare options? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 11
  12. 12. Frameworks Aren’t Magic What if your leadership isn’t ready? What if your staff aren’t sufficiently skilled? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 12
  13. 13. How Effective Are Frameworks in Practice?@scottwambler #NoFrameworks 13
  14. 14. Adopting a Prescriptive Method/Framework Helps a Bit Effectiveness Time Initial learning curve Things get better We hit the limits of the framework (we’re in method prison) Source: Reifer, D. Quantitative Analysis of Agile Methods Survey (2017): Twelve Major Findings 1500+ agile teams at 150 orgs Agile methods: 7-12% more productive on average Agile scaling frameworks: 3-5% more productive on average @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 1414
  15. 15. What Works in Practice? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Look to the “apex predators” 15
  16. 16. Kaizen Loops: Improve via Experiments @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Identify Problem Identify Potential Solution(s) Try the Solution(s) Assess Effectiveness Adopt What Works Abandon What Doesn’t Work Share Learnings Plan Do Study Act 16 16
  17. 17. Continuous Improvement via Kaizen Loops @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Effectiveness Time 17 17
  18. 18. Can we do better? Actually, can we do a lot better? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 18
  19. 19. Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI) @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Identify Problem Identify Potential Solution(s) Try the Solution(s) Assess Effectiveness Adopt What Works Abandon What Doesn’t Work Share Learnings Some experiments fail. You learn something, but it’s still a failure. Failing fast is fine, but succeeding early is better. If we get better at this, we succeed more often and we improve faster. We can do this if we have access to an experienced agile coach, but they’re expensive and hard to find. We can do this if we have access to a process knowledgebase, like the Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit. 19
  20. 20. Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI) @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Effectiveness Time Continuous Improvement Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI) 20
  21. 21. Let’s work through an example @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Explore Scope When producing a solution for our stakeholders, how do we explore scope? 21
  22. 22. What issues should we work through when exploring scope? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Explore Scope How will people use our solution? What information should we collect? What business process do it support? How will people interact with it? What quality aspects are important? How will we work with stakeholders? Do we need to document the requirements? How will we embrace evolving requirements? 22
  23. 23. People need potential answers to the questions @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Explore Scope Epics Outcomes Personas Stories Story map Usage scenarios Use cases Use case diagram Explore Usage How will people use our solution? 23
  24. 24. Sometimes we discover that some strategies are better than others @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Explore Scope Overview Light specification Detailed specification None Level of Detail 24
  25. 25. @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 25 With a simple map, Disciplined Agile (DA) makes it easier to stand on the shoulders of giants We call this a process-goal diagram 25
  26. 26. Taking Agile Back @scottwambler #NoFrameworks How can we take Agile back? 26
  27. 27. Respect Yourself @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 27
  28. 28. Go Back to Fundamentals Agile was originally about discovering what works in practice for software development Agile should be about discovering what works in practice for our organization in the situation that we face @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 28
  29. 29. Be Humble @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 29
  30. 30. Be Agnostic Hint: If you use terms like Sprint or Scrum Master you’re not agnostic @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 30
  31. 31. #NoBestPractices Wait…. that’s another presentation @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 31
  32. 32. Start Where You Are @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Effectiveness Time Your current WoW Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI) Start where you are Do the best that you can in the situation that you face Improve in place 32
  33. 33. @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Observe (deeply) Think (critically) Experiment (to learn) 33
  34. 34. Optimize the Whole @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 34
  35. 35. Take Agile Back Respect Yourself Go Back to Fundamentals Be Humble Be Agnostic #NoBestPractices Start Where You Are Observe, Think, Experiment Optimize the Whole @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 35
  36. 36. Thank you! scott.ambler@pmi.org @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 36
  37. 37. About Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Institute (PMI) is the world's leading association for those who consider project, program or portfolio management their profession. Founded in 1969, PMI delivers value for more than three million professionals working in nearly every country in the world through global advocacy, collaboration, education and research. We advance careers, improve organizational success and further mature the project management profession through globally-recognized standards, certifications, communities, resources, tools, academic research, publications, professional development courses and networking opportunities. As part of the PMI family, ProjectManagement.com creates online global communities that deliver more resources, better tools, larger networks and broader perspectives. @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 3737
  38. 38. About Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Institute (PMI) is the world's leading association for those who consider project, program or portfolio management their profession. Founded in 1969, PMI delivers value for more than three million professionals working in nearly every country in the world through global advocacy, collaboration, education and research. We advance careers, improve organizational success and further mature the project management profession through globally-recognized standards, certifications, communities, resources, tools, academic research, publications, professional development courses and networking opportunities. As part of the PMI family, ProjectManagement.com creates online global communities that deliver more resources, better tools, larger networks and broader perspectives. @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 3838

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