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#NoFrameworks: 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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  • Secrets To Making Up These secrets will help you get back together with your ex. ★★★ http://ow.ly/mOLD301xGxr
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  • Nice deck Scott, but strong & timely argument more importantly. As we try to break out of method prison or we also need to break free of framework prison. An if so, what replaces it, because we cannot expect people to function effectively by working everything out themselves from first principles. My thought on this question is that we need to get much better at developing mindset, not just talking about it's importance. Turning to the psychologists and particular constructionist developmentalists like Bob Kegan and Bill Torbet.
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#NoFrameworks: How We Can Take Agile Back

  1. 1. #NoFrameworks How We Can Take Agile Back Scott Ambler @scottwambler @disc_agile scott [at] disciplined-agile.com Copyright 2019 Disciplined Agile Inc.
  2. 2. Agenda • Mea culpa • What is a framework? • What is the problem with frameworks? • Why are frameworks so popular? • How effective are frameworks in practice? • What actually works? • How can we taking agile back? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  3. 3. Mea Culpa…. … is latin for “my bad” @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  4. 4. Prescriptive Flexible Method Framework Mea Culpa“Method Prison” @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  5. 5. What is a Framework? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  6. 6. Definition: Framework • A system of veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or concept • A relatively small group of people having beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister • A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular concept or thing @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  7. 7. Definition: Cult • A system of veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or concept • A relatively small group of people having beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister • A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular concept or thing Mea Culpa! @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. The Problem With Frameworks @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  10. 10. Frameworks Define Principles, Rules and Beliefs But what if the rules aren’t applicable? What happens when your situation changes? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. Frameworks Aren’t Silver Bullets What if your leadership isn’t ready? What if your staff aren’t sufficiently skilled? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  16. 16. Why Are Frameworks So Popular? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  17. 17. Executive Leadership SAFe • Great poster and web site • “Quick and easy” answer to their software process problems • Their traditional competitors are often doing it • Large consulting companies can provide armies of SAFe-certified people • Desire to reduce “process variance” and increase predictability @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  18. 18. Consultants @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Cha-Ching!
  19. 19. Developers Scrum • Its 18-page body of knowledge is easy to consume • Simple answer to a complex problem • Confirms that traditional management is bad, mostly by glossing over spectacularly important concepts @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  20. 20. Tool Vendors @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Cha-Ching!
  21. 21. How Effective Are Frameworks in Practice?@scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  22. 22. Agile Frameworks/Methods Can Help @scottwambler #NoFrameworks 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
  23. 23. What Actually Works? @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  24. 24. We Should Look at Apex-Level Competitors @scottwambler #NoFrameworks X X
  25. 25. The DevOps Case Study Pattern 1. At some point in the distant past: • We’re in trouble! • We need to improve! Now! • Let’s start an improvement project! 2. Realization: Improvement is a journey, not a project! Who knew? 3. New strategy: Adopt an “improve through experiments” approach 4. Today: Look at us, we’re awesome and not afraid to share our “secret” @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  26. 26. 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
  27. 27. Continuous Improvement via Kaizen Loops @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Effectiveness Time
  28. 28. 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.
  29. 29. Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI) @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Effectiveness Time Continuous Improvement Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI)
  30. 30. Taking Agile Back @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  31. 31. Respect Yourself @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  32. 32. 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 @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  33. 33. Be Humble @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  34. 34. Be Agnostic Hint: If you use terms like Sprint or Scrum Master you’re not agnostic @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  35. 35. #NoBestPractices Wait…. that’s another keynote @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  36. 36. Start Where You Are @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Effectiveness Time Your current WoW Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI)
  37. 37. @scottwambler #NoFrameworks Observe (deeply) Think (critically) Experiment (to learn)
  38. 38. Optimize the Whole @scottwambler #NoFrameworks
  39. 39. 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
  40. 40. Thank You Scott Ambler scott@disciplined-agile.com LinkedIn.com/in/sambler/ Twitter: @scottwambler

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