Kill the hybrid


Picture by Sarah Derememer

Often I venture into companies that already started to use some sort of Agile way of working like with Scrum or Kanban. When it concerns a large company, frameworks like Scrum or Kanban most of the time aren’t enough. So scaling methodologies are available like  LeSS (Large Scale Scrum), SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) or Nexus. But often I don’t see this happen. In most cases a hybrid form is incorporated into the company. The Spotify methode, I didn’t even know there was one, is used like a very popular way of making things bigger. Always spiked with SAFe, LeSS and Scrum parts. Unfortunately only the easy parts and that is where it goes wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, even though as a coach i’m quite a fan of using a good framework or methodology, i’m not a Agile fanatic. I don’t go running around yelling at people when they do it wrong. If it works it works. But when you want to change a large environment you need to take into account all the variables. It is not just adopting a nice model from a music publisher and throw in a weekly retrospective, some stand ups and a half designed Kanban board. Every scaling model has it’s own unique way of working. In every model there are great things that can work immediately but also, and often more things, that don’t seem to work as easy or as fast as one would like. And by throwing those out and just use what seems nice is not the way to go. When designing a hybrid you need to know what you are doing and just copying that what the competitor does is very dangerous. Even copying a model that was presented by a music publisher two years ago. Sure, the Spotify way of working is great. It has cool names and the way of working seems to work. But it works for spotify. And you are not Spotify, even if you publish music. I bet that your company DNA, people, culture, product and so on is different. Be careful what you take on as your perfect way of working. Don’t become someone else’s untamable hybrid even when it looks so cool on Youtube.

Agile has to do with change. And change has to do with pain. If you don’t feel pain then you are not changing. Most of the time when I introduce a framework I get to hear that what I show will not work. “That will never work at our company, it is way too different from what we are used here” but that is exactly the point. In order to change you need to do something that is not what you already do, otherwise why would it be called change? Also when you want to move with your company into a different direction, you need to move with the entire company. Not just the development departments but also with management, board, customers and so on. It is movement and you can only move fast and easy if everyone moves in the same directions (I know it’s obvious but that’s what i’m here for).

A hybrid develops over time. It is not something you engineer before you start. A hybrid forms due to small changes to a basic model. Start with Scrum, SAFe or LeSS or whatever model you prefer and fits best. And over time adapt it, tweak it and shape it so it works. But even better. Don’t! If you really want to do it the right way start with adapting, tweaking and shaping your company. Then you actually are changing. When you keep the model that you incorporate in tact and change the way you work so it starts to work, then you are actually doing the right thing. Don’t design a hybrid but try to kill the hybrid. Don’t become a next Spotify adaptor but become your own original. This means you have to go through the changes the hard way. There are no shortcuts. Change takes time and dedication. But let’s face it. What is more fun and something to be proud of?. To become another company who copied something from the others or one who stayed true to itself with the help of a well designed framework. I know what I would choose.