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Adopting an Enterprise Agile Framework – Culture Not Included

by David Norton  |  January 26, 2017  |  Comments Off on Adopting an Enterprise Agile Framework – Culture Not Included

Enterprise agile frameworks come in all shapes and sizes. Some focus on scaling for multiple teams, other focus on teams and the challenges of program and portfolio governance.  The most popular include, but are not limited too; SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, Disciplined Agile 2 (Formally DaD), and Spotify (not a framework per se, more a squad based org model) the list goes on and on and that’s without the frameworks promoted by SI.

Each framework has its pros and cons but all are based on agile principles with various mixes of Scrum, Lean and system thinking.  Frameworks have value to the business if selected and implemented correctly – therein lies the rub.  To paraphrase Andrew Lang many organizations use agile frameworks in the same way that a drunk uses lampposts—for support rather than illumination.

No framework, no matter how well thought out, no matter how good the training, no matter who your consultants are – will change your culture.  That might sound counter intuitive, surely a framework is all about change?  But expecting a framework to change your culture by itself is like me hoping I will lose weight because I bought a diet book and gym membership – which I have, and not lost a single pound.

The framework can help but cultural change needs a fundamental shift in organizational values, leadership style and most importantly behaviour – and that takes a focused and concerted effort at both the individual and the organizational level.  If you want people to invest that time and effort there needs to be a very clear and real business reason to adopt the framework in the first place, only then will they commit to it.

Leaders need to go beyond the framework roles, practices and process and really empathise with the individuals who will be impacted by the implementation. To understand their fears and aspirations.  They need to foster the right sort of environment within IT and the business to allow people to be successful with the framework.

And a final thought, one of the most valuable lessons I learnt as a system engineer was “Try to scale the problem down, before you scale the process up”  so do not rush to implement a framework until you are sure you need to.

For more on this, shameless plug, have a look at Best Practices for Adopting an Enterprise Agile Framework  ID: G00278351

Category: agile  application-development  

David Norton
Research Director
7 years at Gartner
25 years IT industry

In his role as research director with Gartner's application development and architecture team, David Norton supports clients by developing and delivering quality and timely research. Read Full Bio

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