Copy-pasting frameworks and expecting success is foolish

Scrum Nov 12, 2021

The most dysfunctional Agile transformations I’ve seen happen because companies try to copy-paste an Agile framework or scaling framework. This is especially true for bigger companies.

At the core of Agile and Scrum are self-managing, empowered teams. This usually comes more naturally to start-ups and scale-ups.

More layers, hierarchy, silos, coordination, top-down instructions, checklists, analysis, planning will never result in self-managing and empowered teams.

Copy-pasting the Spotify model or SAFe, and expecting success, is at best wishful thinking. What actually often happens is you are only making things worse. You are burying dysfunctions with more dysfunctions.

The bigger your organisation, the more it’s about removing and changing your organisation to fit with an Agile way of working.

You can’t copy-paste something on top and expect to be Agile. That’s like adding a cherry on top of a pizza so you can call it a cake. It doesn’t work that way.

We are awesome at coming up with things to add to make things better. When you’re big, you should start with removing and trimming organisational fat and changing the command and control mindset.

Doing this is difficult, scary, and challenging. You need to get out of your comfort zone. You need to act yourself in a new way of thinking before you get it. It requires a leap of faith that is difficult to make for many. When you get it, it seems easy and obvious.

Many prefer to not do this (understandable) and as a result it is inevitable that the only thing you can do is preserve the status quo.

But you do have an Agile sauce on top you can use for window-dressing, which is the main function the Spotify model serves for many organizations (looking at you banks).

Scaling doesn’t start with adding, but with removing and changing your way of working.