Agile frameworks are not enough

The trend is strong. It’s a ground swell. Gradually, all areas of activity are adopting so-called agile frameworks for their project management and business organization.

Inducted into IT development in the early 2000s, agility is now becoming more democratic in all sectors of the globalized economy.

Menaps has understood this well and that is why we support our customers in the implementation of these frameworks and a reasoned application of agility.

There are many ways to implement agility within a company across a multitude of frameworks. The following infographic shows the coverage of these frameworks, ranging from the initial phase of a project to its release phase, passing through the discovery and delivery phases.

The term Agile was born with the manifesto of the same name. Theorized in February 2001, it derives its legitimacy from the success and diversity of the companies and projects from which its 17 signatories originated (for example IBM, Daimlerchrysler, Microsoft).

Moreover, it is essential to keep in mind that this manifesto is not a method or a framework but sets out 4 values and 12 principles to follow for the success of an IT development project. As in most methods and frameworks that rely on this manifesto, the turn of the statement is important:
These experiences have led us to value:[valeurs du manifeste] . We recognize the value of the second elements, but favor the first.

Agility through its manifesto is based on experiences and the validation by practice of the values stated without devaluing other important values but by prioritizing them.

Behind this manifesto therefore hides a state of mind to be implemented.

Implementation of agility

In order to guide people and entities in their implementation of agility, a large number of methods and frameworks have been described, documented and implemented.

It is important to emphasize that these are tools, means of achieving the level of performance desired by organizations. They must therefore be used to achieve a vision. From this vision flow the objectives and goals to be achieved.

In addition, agility promises to bring customers and users of “products” closer to the designers and developers of these “products” in order to best meet their needs and expectations.

Within Menaps, it is therefore quite naturally the vision of agility that we are pursuing.

We specialize in the implementation of the most known and applied frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban and SAFe.

Where Scrum goes deeper into the long-term aspect of a team’s productivity and the relationship that team should have with its environment, Kanban focuses on optimizing workflow. The SAFe framework, on the other hand, focuses on scaling the two previous frameworks while emphasizing the business side of activities.

The tools of these frameworks are based, for example, on the work of anthropologist Robin Dunbar to define the limits of teams and work entities.

The objective is to organize the teams in order to have the minimum level of confidence within each entity allowing the performance of the teams in the achievement of their goals.

Behind common sense principles, the previous example shows the depth of knowledge needed in terms of work organization, sociology and technology that is hidden behind these tools. However, it is not necessary to know them to apply them. Nevertheless, it is essential to be accompanied by experts who know the ins and outs.

These people are called scrum master (for the scrum framework), agile coach, or more generally accompanying or agile trainers. Their role is to understand customer needs and guide companies and people towards adopting the Agile mindset through the application of best practices to meet these expectations.

As a support within the Menaps teams, we are constantly seeking to develop our Agile state of mind in contact with the customers we support in the field.

Our role is therefore to help our customers to cultivate the Agile mindset and to guide them towards a more efficient, more human and more sustainable operation.

The Agile mindset

Immersing yourself in the state of mind in order to respond more effectively to the expectations of its customers requires going beyond the standard application of agile frameworks.

How many times have I arrived in an organization telling me to apply an agile method? Almost always.

How many times is this done without understanding what is behind the values in the manifesto? Almost as much.

When I was a developer, I learned that the tests I did on my code had to make sense. They don’t have to be there to test every function, every line of code because that process is very expensive. The end result is not satisfactory. In the same way, setting up an agile framework without asking questions about the desired goal is going to be very expensive and will not give the desired results. It is therefore necessary to ask yourself and take the time to define the goals to be achieved and the way to achieve them. One of the objectives of the Agile mindset is to unite people around common goals to achieve and exceed them as quickly as possible.

The questions to ask yourself before setting up an agile framework are therefore:

  • What are the results we want to achieve? (and how long?)
  • What means do we have?

The answers to these questions and the development of the Agile mindset should make it possible to choose the first initiatives to put in place in order to obtain the best results.

In summary, agile frameworks are “simple” frameworks to understand but behind which hide a large number of complex notions. It is therefore important not to lose sight of the objectives that we want to achieve when setting up such an operation. The Agile mindset goes in this direction in order to implement an environment that allows each person in the organization to bring their stone to the building. This must be the case everywhere, whether at the top of the organization or at the level of the people who actually produce the value.

I will end with an African proverb that I find very agile:
Alone, we go faster. Together, we go further.

Theo Antoine – Scrum Master & Product Owner