Beyond methodologies

Steve Angelo-Eadie, VP of VFQ Services at Emergn, offers a fascinating insight into the proliferation of Agile methodologies; why they’re often misunderstood and how to make them work better.

Methodologies are about driving valuable ideas to market in a more predictable way, and yet in a revealing spot poll during the Webinar, most respondents were merely ‘comfortable’ with methodologies, rather than completely sold on them. Why is that?

As the Webinar points out, people can be confused by the proliferation and complexity of methodologies. It also doesn’t help that whilst methodologies such as Scrum, SAFe, Design Thinking and Kanban have been around a long time, they are often portrayed as being new.

In the Agile Manifesto, values can get translated and misinterpreted, and there are, perhaps, too many principles to absorb and follow. On a personal level, questions arise such as: “which methodology do I choose?” or “am I doing it right?” Added to which, different people and departments use methodologies differently. So, instead of being a clear guide to consistent output, the methodology seems to fail.

The webinar shows that the confusion is not with the method, or the user. A significant challenge is that methodologies are not 100% written for the work you are doing – they never quite fit your ‘work-context’. They also take time to learn and evolve, so instead of simplifying work, they can become difficult and complex.

A telling phrase in the webinar explains to us that: ‘the more complex the rules and processes we are to follow, the more stupid our behavior becomes – whilst clearer and more simplified rules and principles give rise to intelligent behavior leading to more creative solutions and outcomes’.

The overriding theme of the Beyond Methodologies is to explain that organizations can often struggle to adopt Agile methodologies successfully because of following them obsessively, rather than letting the underlying mindset take hold.

Steve looked at how VFQ’s (Value, Flow, Quality) Guiding Principles and Essential Practices allow individuals, teams and organizations become truly Agile and avoid the trap of becoming dominated by a methodology’s processes and structures. Agile Practitioners need to focus in on simplicity and agility as conferred by VFQ’s three guiding principles:

1. Deliver value early and often. What is early and often is not dictated, but only relevant to the user, but the idea is you don’t get bogged down in mechanical delivery times or products that aren’t delivering value.

2. Optimize the flow of work end to end. Get value into the hands of the end user faster by looking at workflow from end to end – not just what a team can do in a given time – and asking how can you get the product to the user most efficiently?

3. Discover quality with fast feedback. Getting fast feedback, helps prevent you from building the wrong products, or spending too much time on a long project only to find it isn’t what your consumer wants – or needs.

VFQ is all about simplifying Agile methodologies and making them work better by adopting a certain mindset, rather than obsessing about the nuts and bolts of any particular methodology you are using. It is about using techniques that you apply to any methodology, making it relevant to the work you are doing.

VFQ asks: ‘How are we delivering Value to our customers?’ ‘Is our Flow optimized to the outcomes we want to achieve’ and, ‘Are we building the right things for our customers/users, and building it right?’ (Quality).

This fascinating webinar shows how by experimentation, understanding customers and visualization we can stay on track with the work we are doing and the methodology we are using. Beyond Methodologies is a webinar every Agile Practitioner and Product Manager can, and should, relate to.

Watch the webinar here.

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