Musings about “Hard-coded” Frameworks

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A recent discussion on the Scrum Alliance Linkedin group was around Mike Beedle’s claim that “Hard-coded Frameworks are neither Agile or Frameworks” which is clearly aimed primarily at SAFe.  

I admit to thinking something similar before really getting to know SAFe in depth. Over time I realized SAFe isn’t one size fits all. Far from it. 

It has many configurations and options. Do we need the Value Stream level? a System Team? at which level? How many ARTs? Component teams or Feature teams? Which metrics? Which ART to start with? Even if you don’t follow my Invitation-based SAFe implementation approach that is now a formal SAFe guidance article, you still have a lot of options at all levels and it is hardly a hard-coded methodology. Yes, not all practitioners understand this. But that’s a familiar problem from the Scrum space isn’t it. “Though shall do tasks”. “Though shall estimate in story points using planning poker”. “Though shall stand up in the Daily Scrum”.

Scrum was and is a powerful tool. SAFe, Enterprise Scrum, Nexus, LeSS, Kanban and others are powerful tools as well. A powerful tool is typically also dangerous at the wrong hands or the unexperienced hands without good guidance.

Besides – it IS funny to hear about the danger of force-fitting a hard-coded framework from leaders in the scrum community that have been telling us about SHU and following practices and the danger of scrum-but all along. And rightly so! Sometimes you do need to insist on a practice/change even if it feels hard! Agile IS about challenging your comfort zone.

Can we all agree that the real art/expertise is to figure out the right set of practices that is the goldilock between too much force-fitting and too-easy “common sense that is somehow too close to the status quo”?

(Updated) Oh – and also can we also agree there’s a huge difference between force- fitting practices to challenge your comfort zone (which is healthy change management done right) and forcing people to do something vs inviting them to consider trying it? 
 

Author: Yuval Yeret

Kanban/Agile Consultant at Agilesparks

4 thoughts on “Musings about “Hard-coded” Frameworks”

  1. Mike Beedle is the one and only Agile Manifesto signatory since Martin Fowler in 2006 to state very clearly in public statements that forcing practices on teams is a “very red flag” and 100% opposed to Agile principles. If this position is the correct side of history, then perhaps some of his other ideas also have value.

    1. Oh Mike’s idea definitely has value. At the minimum it is driving an important discussion and gave us opportunity to try to explain a point about SAFe 🙂 If we got to even a few SAFe current/future practitioners and got them thinking about “are we using SAFe as a hard coded one size fits all methodology that we force onto people?” Then i thank mike even more for triggering this discussion

    2. A different take on it – I agree 100% with Mike Beedle that hard-coded frameworks that are force fitted onto all contexts are not agile (which is about uncovering better ways.. inspecting & adapting… embracing variability and the fact each org is different… etc.). I’m just challenging the understandable misconception that SAFe is an example of that… btw my Agile 2016 talk tackled this misconception as well http://yuvalyeret.com/agile-2016/.

  2. Yuval,

    This misconception about SAFe has two main sources:
    1.- Actual confusion about how SAFe is applied, and the fact that it is a framework, not a mold organizations must fully compy with
    2.- And some actual competion from other scale frameworks, which seem to see it as advantegous to discredit SAFe.

    To those on the second group, we can’t do much about, except proof them wrong via actual success, and customers telling the market SAFe works, and it does adapt to any large organization.

    However to the first group, your article, and others like it are very valuable. Agile professionals somehow get concerned when they see the Big Picture Diagram, and some think is an all or nothing approach. And nothing could be further from the truth as the Essential SAFe diagram shows.

    Great article! I am planning to write another one on the same subject, and yours gave me some good ideas to move forward.

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