On Friday, September 30, I will be presenting a session on Beyond Agile at the HTEC Project Management Virtual Conference. The session is free to attend and is part of a program that also features Scott Ambler, Sanjiv Augustine, Nader Rad, and Frank Turley. You can register here.
“Yes, And, And”
A colleague recently described Beyond Agile as a “Yes, And, And” toolkit, and I thought it was a great way to summarize the two elements of combining hybrid agile with the Theory of Constraints, and value stream view.
“Yes, And” is a term from improv comedy that refers to the idea of not undermining what has come before and adding valuable new elements. For example, we can say, “Yes, Scrum has been tremendously popular partly because of its initial simplicity, And when we add ideas from emotional intelligence, it can be even more effective.” We acknowledge the strengths of Scrum And add valuable extras.
The First “Yes, And” – Welcome Hybrid
Beyond Agile takes a “Yes, And” approach to hybrid agile. It acknowledges that agile approaches are a great place to start for knowledge work projects, And adds that sometimes, traditional approaches can bring useful elements for risk management, dependency analysis, etc.
Of course, Beyond Agile does not just add traditional approach elements to agile. It also adds ideas from leadership and emotional intelligence, along with recognizing the need for industry knowledge. These elements form the 4 overlapping circles of ideas in the Beyond Agile Model.
The Second “And”
The second And in “Yes, And, And” is the removal of insufficiently performing process. So, Yes, we use a hybrid of approaches And relentlessly remove processes that no longer justify their expenditure. This is the elastic property of the Beyond Agile Model Recommendations lens. It is always trying to contract and asking us to see what we can do without, so we focus more time and effort on value delivery.
The Beyond Agile Model defaults to a small set of recommended practices. We must manipulate the project characteristic sliders to open the recommendations lens to suggest more processes. Then we are always asking:
- What can we drop?
- What is no longer worth the effort?
- Can we try without X for a week and see what happens?
For most teams, this takes conscious effort. We get used to activities and events, so asking if we need them or if they are worth it seems unnatural. However, we carry the time and concentration burden of all processes, so asking if they deserve space in our ways-of-working backpack is valid.
Techniques such as visualizing our work time help us see the weight of our processes. It is an application of the Lean concept of removing waste. Any process that costs more than it delivers is wasteful, and the team should ask if they can get the same or similar benefits for less expenditure.
Ultimately we should expand our toolbox with as many valuable techniques as we can since knowledge is weightless. We can hone our skills through training and progressively larger-scale practice. Then become agnostic; it should not matter what camp the tools and techniques come from if they are valuable. Finally, we focus on value delivery, which means relentlessly removing excess process (agile or otherwise.)
“Yes And, And” captures the hybrid and value delivery focus nature of Beyond Agile. I look forward to explaining the concepts further on Friday and discussing case studies from teams that have used them. Please join us if you can, or sign up for the event so you can view the recording later.