Why Your Company Should Create Its Own Agile Process

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I was on a phone conversation with a client, and he was relaying a common refrain, “We’re doing everything by the book.  We’re seeing some good results but good golly its painful!”  This client in particular was 3 years into their agile journey, with a well enough established process to understand where the hard edges were for their company, their product, and their culture.

While companies new to agile should follow “by the book” frameworks as closely as possible, companies that are some years into the journey MUST create their own agile process in order to continue to see improvement.

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Best practices are only the first step

Most companies seek the advice of experts such as Agile coaches, consultants, and trainers in order to find out what everyone else is doing.  The stuff that works is called a best practice, and consultants are more than welcome to give you those as a blueprint.  What you have to keep in mind is that a best practice is something that has worked well for someone else, and it may or may not work well for you.  To take your adoption to the next level, you have to stop consuming best practices and start producing best practices.  Relentlessly experiment with practices and results.  Based on results, make tweaks to the process to make it work better for your company, creating a new “best practice” for others in your industry.

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Your business is unique, your process should be too

There is much value in understanding and incorporating standardized frameworks into how your company operates.  There is more value in deeply p understanding those frameworks and why they work well, then using that to create custom frameworks built for your business.  This creates a competitive advantage for your company because what you create wont be found in any book.  Look to examples from companies like SalesForce and Spotify for examples of how they took basic Agile frameworks, augmented them, and used it to become leaders in their respective industries.

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Off the shelf Agile frameworks are purposefully incomplete

When you envision everything that needs to happen for your company to take an idea from concept to cash, then compare that to what the off the shelf frameworks have to offer, you will see gaps.  This is because most Agile frameworks are built to be “purposefully incomplete” in that they couldn’t possibly account for everything that needs to happen for every business type.  The frameworks that attempt to be more comprehensive can come across as bloated and prescriptive.  Start with a lightweight framework such as Scrum, then progressively bolster gaps with customized add ons that fit into the core process.

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Beware of pitfalls

While there are upsides to creating your own Agile process, there are also some downsides.

  • Companies try to rush and create a process before they understand the problem to be solved.
  • The often attempt to modify a core framework they don’t yet understand.
  • They attempt to design a perfect process up front.
To avoid some of the same mistakes other companies make when creating an agile process, get my FREE “Custom Agile Processes, Avoiding Mistakes” email mini course.

Tirrell Payton is the principal at Payton Consulting, a San Diego-based boutique consulting firm that helps companies improve their technology capability to match their business ambitions.

Until Next Time,

Stay Agile,  My Friends

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