The Dangers of Hybridized Agile

A few weeks ago, an ad caught our 3Back eye. The ad, promoting an upcoming webinar, made a claim that the best approach to solving all of your Organization’s Agile process needs is to pick and choose from a multitude of scaling frameworks, put them all together, and design your own Agile framework potpourri. This “Kitchen Sink” approach to Agile (take a little Nexus™, mix in some SAFe®, etc.) is what we call Hybridized Agile.[1]

And it’s dangerous. Very dangerous.

Jack-Of-All-Trades. Master Of None.

Jack of All Trades - The Dangers of Hybridized Agile - 3BackLet’s start by stating the obvious. Implementing Scrum is not easy. In fact, it can be downright uncomfortable. Adding to this difficult implementation is an Organization’s culture, behavior, and process which are intricately linked and self-reinforcing. Meaning, when an Organization is faced with the uncomfortable actions that come with making real change, such as implementing Scrum, it may seek to avoid any discomfort and unwittingly create Agile approaches that re-establish and anchor the status quo. And, as a result, no real change within the Organization occurs.

Hybridized Agile feeds upon an Organization’s vulnerability to change. This approach purports to create a better breed of Agile by combining various Agile and existing processes. Unfortunately, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. As the saying goes, by becoming an Agile “Jack-of-all-trades,” an Organization actually becomes a master of none.

Paradigm Induced Blindness vs. Real Change

Paradigm Induced Blindness - The Dangers of Hybridized Agile - 3Back Organizations who follow Hybridized Agile’s dizzying mix of numerous scaling frameworks inevitably fall prey to Paradigm Induced Blindness [2]. Paradigm Induced Blindness occurs when a person follows a process ‘blindly’ because the process itself is so convoluted it just overloads a person’s head. When a Team, Organization, or person is suffering from Paradigm Induced Blindness, all they can see is their preexisting assumptions or model, not the situation at hand. Teams, Organizations, and people stop paying attention and just follow the process rules with minimal inspection and adaptation. The result? Hybridized Agile equates to no real change at all.

Real change in Organizations is driven by helping people own the change, not merely renting the idea from a process paradigm. More specifically in Scrum, the change is owned by the Team as a path to their maturity. As a Team matures, it develops broad skills among the members so that they can be responsive to the demand for Results. Teams with broader skill profiles adapt to, and exploit opportunities faster and thus exhibit appropriate Agility. These Well-Formed Teams™ [3]lead with vision. This vision becomes a living force owned by the Team when they genuinely believe in shaping their future.

Hybridized Agile is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to steal ownership of vision away from the Team.

Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor - The Dangers of Hybridized Agile - 3BackAdaptive and truly Agile Organizations favor decentralized and informal coordination, with Well-Formed Teams, not a myriad of scaling frameworks, serving as the enables of Organizational Agility.

So, with this in mind, heed our warning. If your Organization is succumbing to a hybridized Agile framework that includes:

  • Hyphenated patterns like Lean-Agile-Kanban-Scrum-etc.
  • Scaled Agile Frameworks with six different views and Process Consultants that tailor it for your Team
  • Pulling best practices from all the popular Agile methodologies.

Then, you might have a dangerous problem on your hands.

Need more skills to fend off the dangers of Hybridized Agile?
We’ve got a Scrum Handbook white paper and a
Scrum Guide Conference for that.

As Always. Stay Agile.

Notes and Sources

1-3 “Hybridized Agile,” “Paradigm Induced Blindness,” “Well-Formed Team.” Accessed November 28, 2017.