Sunday, December 20, 2015

Agile: the Hybrid Operating Principle


What's the hybrid thing?
It's agile coexisting in the same project with a traditional methodology, presumably for the swim lanes that are not software.
Some call hybrid agile as: agile in the waterfall

Are hybrids practical? After all, the traditional is top down planned, most requirements up front, much system testing at the end, etc. Agile is the not-traditional. Can you fashion a hybrid out of these two?

Actually, hybrids are very practical, if one internalizes the "hybrid operating principle"

Hybrid Operating principle
Agile projects are simultaneously strategically stationary and tactically iterative and emergent

I mean by “strategically stationary” that:
  • Whenever and wherever you look, the project has the same strategic intent and predictable business outlook.
  • Strategically stationary is not unique to agile, of course -- traditional methods actually impose stationariness, and business planners do also.  
Strategic intent is what is expressed by the business for the opportunity and vision of the project.
Strategically predictable business outlook
is the outcome that is expected of the project, typically expressed as the mission, but also found on the business scorecard.

I mean by tactically iterative and emergent that:
  • Flexibility is delegated to development teams to solve issues locally;
  • Teams are empowered to respond to the fine details of customer demand while respecting strategic intent in all respects; and
  • Teams are expected to evolve processes in order to be lean, efficient, and frictionless in development.
And this all leads where?
The overlay of strategy with tactics

The upshot of a tactically emergent and iterative risk response is that we may find that actions in the moment are a seeming variance to the strategy—that is, the project plan. But, over time, we may take other actions that converge on the strategy. In effect, we overlay the strategy with tactical expediency at the moment.

What are these actions?

For the Agile work stream, the most common tactical move is adjustment of the iteration backlog, the repository of “stories” or use cases that are the gist of requirements in the Agile methodology. 

Another form of tactical maneuvering is the result of technical or functional debt: those small items which have been left behind on a “punch list” to be completed before the project ends.

And why are these actions taken?

Most commonly, because the customer/user sees a better way to achieve a functionality; sees an unnecessary story that can be dropped; or has been given information about a requirement, heretofore unidentified, that should be added to the backlog.

These debt may cause small changes which may seem to lead off the strategy, but more often they help to converge to the strategic intent.

 



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