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The applicability of Agile and Scrum

Looking at the success of companies whom belong to the early adaptors of the Agile way of working using the Scrum framework, more and more executives realize that the Agile way of working provides a competitive advantage. The larger the company the larger the challenges in the areas of company dynamics, uncertainties, internal/external regulations, competition and customer diversity.

The Stacey Model
But how do you know the Agile way of working combined with the Scrum framework is the right choice for your organization? In discussions with respect to the applicability of Agile and Scrum I always talk about the Stacey Model. The Stacey model is widely used and accepted and because it is so visual it is easy to explain why the Agile way of working provides a competitive advantage.

Ralph Stacey developed his model, to help leaders and managers to understand which distinctive decision-making and management approaches to use in different situations.

The model is based on the degree of certainty on how to build it, and the level of agreement in what to build.

Stacey modelStacey model

Depending on the part of the model, different choices can/should be made with respect to which framework best fits your organization.

In the ‘Chaos’ part of the model something peculiar is going on. The existing frameworks do not work here. There is no agreement whatsoever and uncertainty is very high. In this kind of situations there is a serious risk that organizations act as if there is no problem. One looks to the other side and/or confrontation is avoided. The idea apparently is that if we ignore the problem long enough it probably resolves itself. If an organization stays long enough in the ‘Chaos’ part of the model the continuity seriously is at risk. I believe we all, to a greater or lesser extent, recognize this situation.

A proven way to move out of the chaos part into the complex part is drawing up a joined agenda. By following a joined agenda it is possible to move into the complex part of the model again.

Disruptors like Blockchain and Bitcoin are examples of the ‘Chaos’ part of the model. Organizations and governments alike have looked away for years. After drawing up a common agenda the direction is moving/moved into the Complex part.

In the ‘Complex’ part of the model, scope changes are more the rule than the exception. For projects which reside in this part of the model, politics and/or which way should be followed, play an important role. Discussions are ongoing, discussions take time and lead to new insights. Because of this scope changes occur regularly. The framework that is particularly suited for this part of the model is Scrum. Through the feedback loops that are embedded in the Scrum framework advancing or new insights will be translated into a changed scope which in return is offered to a scrum team to process.

In the ‘Complicated’ part of the model projects do have their challenge.

A framework that could fit here is Waterfall. However the Scrum framework gives an equal/better fit. Better because of the sprints and the feedback loops that are part of the Scrum framework.  Using the Waterfall framework makes it harder to react quickly on scope changes.

In the ‘Simple’ part of the model reside projects whom are very predictable. There is close agreement on what has to be build and there is a high degree of certainty on how to realize it. Because of this the scope will only change minimally and control aspects like time, money and quality will act accordingly.  Checklists, Waterfall and/or Step-by-Step plans are used here.  For example runbooks and periodical financial reports are situated in this part of the model.

Cor Laan is an experienced agile coach and program/change manager who regularly writes about work field related topics. His experience includes digital transformation in financial services organizations and semi-governmental organizations. 

If you have questions or are looking for advice with respect to Scrum and/or Agile topics like Kanban or Devops just get in touch: cor.laan@cegeka.com or +31 6 300 22 746.