Agile ME Meetup: Agile Frameworks

In a series of meetups, we will try to cover highlights of what to focus on if you are in the beginning of an Agile transformation. In the second meetup we discussed different Agile frameworks.

In case you missed this or previous sessions do not worry. Talking points and the presentation for this session is available below, and the previous session can be found here.

Scrum

scrum.org

You can’t talk about Agile and Agile frameworks without talking about Scrum. Scrum is by far the most implemented Agile frameworks – unfortunately also the most “mis-used” framework.

Scrum is in itself fairly simple. Everyone can understand and follow the process: You have a backlog of items you would like to deliver. Together with the team you have a planning session where you decide the goal and what items to work on in the following iteration – called a sprint – and move those items to the sprint backlog. During the sprint the team work on delivering the goal by finishing the items in the sprint backlog. In order to continuously align and support each other the team has a short “Daily Scrum” meeting every day . At the end of the sprint the team present the outcome – a potentially shippable increment – to the stakeholders at a Sprint Review. Finally the team has a Retrospective where they can focus on continuous improvement.

Sadly it isn’t that simple though – all of these ceremonies and artifacts only work if everyone fully understand the value of them, and the full value of Scrum is only achieved if the implementation of Scrum includes implementing the Scrum Values!

You can read a lot more about Scrum here: https://www.scrum.org/resources/what-is-scrum

Kanban

When people mention Lean, they usually think of Kanban as well – but also in an Agile world Kanban is a very useful framework, supporting an Agile mindset. Kanban is more “light” than Scrum, and focusses more on the flow of work and less on the team.

A good implementation of Kanban can in many teams be an excellent approach – unfortunately yet again often I see that Kanban is implemented wrongfully. Having a board where items are being moved from “To do” to “In Progress” and finally to “Done” is easy – but maintaining and measuring the flow and remembering to keep a “Work In Progress Limit” (WIP) is often not prioritized. Again I see teams and organizations taking the shortcut – they forget about the values and culture change that is required as well.

If you are interested in getting started with Kanban I can recommend this article: https://kanbanize.com/kanban-resources/getting-started/what-is-kanban/

Scrum vs. Kanban

So with one is better? – It depends!

Both Scrum and Kanban has pro and cons.

Scrum is more process heavy, but it creates accountability in the team. Planning bigger initiatives is easier with Scrum, but it can also led to scope creep.

Kanban focusses heavy on continuous delivery but it is easy to misuse the process. Kanban is great for teams with many (different) requirements but it can be difficult to manage different priorities.

The lesson I hope the attendees at our meetup learned is that it is important to choose the right framework for themselves. Figure out what problem you want to solve in your team or organization, and then choose the framework is essential for success.

Scaling Frameworks

At some point your success will “force” you to start thinking of scaling – in the sense that you need to have more than one team working on the same product at the same time. Scaling isn’t easy! – so only do so when you really need to – and when you do, consider your approach wisely.

Also when we talk about scaling there are many frameworks to consider. At the meetup we quickly talked about two in particular. LeSS – Large Scale Scrum and SaFE – Scaled Agile Framework, and I choose these because they couldn’t be more different.

LeSS

The creators of LeSS had a vision of a very light-weight process only covering the bare minimum. It is based upon Scrum, so if you are already doing Scrum implementing LeSS is fairly easy and only a few ceremonies are being added. The idea is that start with a bare minimum and only if and when required you can add on top of this.

You can read more about LeSS here: https://less.works/

SaFE

The approach with SaFE is very different. SaFE does come in various versions, but the intend with SaFE is to include the entire organization. This is great if your entire company is doing an Agile Transformation, but at the same time this is also very complex and process heavy. SaFE isn’t something implemented over night and I do believe it requires professional help to succeed.

You can read more about SaFE here: https://www.scaledagileframework.com/

Pick and Choose

There are many tools, frameworks and processes that all, if used the right way, can contribute to your Agile transformation. The challenge is to choose the right ones for you, your team and your organization. Therefore it must start with you needs and current challenges, not the other way around.

Agile Alliance recently created a metro map of Agile practises that I believe gives a great overview of all the Agile “tribes” and their areas of concern.

agilealliance.org

So how to get started?

My three best advices on how to get started would be:

  • Get some help from someone who have tried a similar adaption. Trying to figure it out by yourself won’t be easy
  • Understand what problem you are trying to solve. Often Agile implementations start without fully understanding what problem you would like to solve or what value you would like to achieve. If this isn’t clear to everyone the chances of success are slim
  • Start simple! – It’s easier to add more “process” or tools when a need presents itself rather than removing

The Presentation

The presentation form the meetup is available on Slideshare:

Next Session

In the third session, planned for December 16th, the focus will be the different roles in an organization and teams after an Agile transformation. Is a project manager the same as a product owner, and what does servant leadership mean? – Hope to see you there!

You can read more about our Meetups on our Meetup page: https://www.meetup.com/AgileME-Dubai/

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