Where are you leading people on Agile Frameworks?

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Are you misleading people about agile scrum and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?

This past week (and for years) I have experienced several people and even a fairly well known “agile tool space” vendor passing misinformation around about agile Scrum and the Scaled Agile Framework for the Enterprise (SAFe). The offending parties, in the context of their misrepresentations, are attacking the agile Scrum framework and the SAFe. Labeling them as processes!

To what end?

If you are working in the agile tool space or as a consultant selling agile frameworks, methodologies, and processes you have a professional obligation to the field to maintain integrity. An obligation to honor the principles of the agile manifesto.

Bad Coach

Labeling the frameworks as processes may seem inconsequential. However, after further inspection and understanding of agile principles (of software development or otherwise) and the frameworks (Scrum/SAFe) intent and implementation it is clear neither is a process or a methodology. I will leave it to others (see references below) to explain the differences between frameworks, methodologies, and processes. That discussion has been hashed out for a long time now.

Moving on to the point

Continuing to push misinformation about agile Scrum and the SAFe is damaging to the frameworks. It is clearly unprofessional and does harm to the mission of making the world a better place to work in. To claim them as processes or methodologies destroys the basic foundational value of being a framework, not a process. Or a method. First, and foremost perhaps, because it makes it difficult for organizations to learn, understand and adapt the frameworks as part of an organizational transformation. As a prescription, a defined process, something as tremendous as enterprise wide transformation is impossible if you are selling a wholesale turn-key throw all your stuff away solution.

“All your process are belong to us” philosophy and attitude leads directly to organizational transformation failure.

Let’s say an executive is listening to an agile coach about why they should use agile Scrum or Lean or Kanban or ITIL or SAFe or whatever other agile framework/process/methodology. It is likely that the organization or a person understands the sometimes subtle (not really) differences between frameworks, methodologies, and processes. If Agile Scrum and the SAFe are being sold as processes or as methodologies, then you have a disaster from start. Smart people pick up on the misuse of the words and then begin to question the integrity of everything you say from that point on.

Second, read a damn dictionary. Define the words framework, methodology and process. Then correct yourself. Introspection. Inspect & adapt. This reminds me of the too common misuse of “Quality Assurance” for “Quality Control.” We need to do QA on that code…. sigh.

If agile Scrum or the Scaled Agile Framework for the Enterprise were processes or methodologies they wouldn’t make a lick of sense. The frameworks are massively incomplete if they are processes. Even more incomplete if they are methods. They are both frameworks by design and intent.

In conclusion I would like to point out again that there is a significant difference between a framework, a methodology and a process. Agile Scrum is a framework. The SAFe is a framework. Organizations should be applying the guidelines and principles of the frameworks within the context of existing or new or changed processes and methodologies. Processes and methodologies are built and documented and used on top of and/or all around a framework.


See this article from vsellis to read about the differences between frameworks, methodologies and processes.

Another article on why agile Scrum is a framework.





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