Addressing Agile

Let’s see how Agile fits into technical program management.

But what about Agile?

This course doesn't dive into specific Agile methodologies or frameworks.

It's important to recognize that the modern usage of the word "Agile" often refers to utilizing a specific off-the-shelf framework. These frameworks may not be the right choice for every program and, therefore, wouldn't achieve the goal of agility. Many Agile frameworks, like Scrum, focus on one team. That framework does not account for the complexity of multiorganizational complexity.

Other frameworks come close to addressing large, complex program needs: SAFe, Scrum@Scale, Large Scrum Scale (LeSS), Nexus, or Disciplined Agile (DA). Although these frameworks exist, they aren't always easy solutions to running effective programs. Learning about these frameworks and their underlying principles is helpful, but be cautious when attempting to force any off-the-shelf framework into an organization.

The best agility frameworks add value for all teams: engineering, product, operations, management, leadership, and so on. It's hard to find an off-the-shelf framework that can do that.

Finding a balance

The lifecycle of a program shares the qualities of being both linear (waterfall) and iterative (agile).

This is a truth, agnostic to any framework in existence. Some portions of a program will be a waterfall experience. You must do A before you do B. Other times, it makes sense to iterate quickly. Which one you lean toward depends on the type of program you're running.

If your program has rigid compliance or legal requirements, a minimal iteration might be possible. It might have more waterfall properties.

If your program is launching a new product, but you know the program will be iterating to discover a good product market fit, you'll practically be forced to take a more iterative approach.

In either case, be aware of what might be best for your program. Be cautious of off-the-shelf frameworks that promise only benefits and no drawbacks. The best framework for your program is the one that drives meaningful outcomes for the program. Take what works from other frameworks, adapt, and find the best solution for your program.

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