It wasn't long after I started with agile methods, back in 2007, that me and my peers saw that a method seldom works out of the box. Every practice we use: how to run standup meetings, how to write backlogs, how to prioritize and so on, are dependent on certain factors being present in the environment.
You cannot for instance have a single Product Owner make all the product decisions unless the product is fairly simple. And you cannot empower a small team to make independent decisions if they are heavily dependent on others. You need to either simplify what you have, or accept the complexity and manage it.
The methods will not do this for you. You will need to change the context yourself. Find an appropriate way or method for dealing with what you have, and then adjust the organization to fit.
Look at the Situation
When we want things to be in a certain way, chances are that we forget to look for evidence that goes against our dreams.
- We believe we already understand what's needed, so we avoid considering data that speaks against our beliefs.
- We want new ways of working that can magically fix our underlying blockers to productivity, even when there are no signs of such methods to be found.
- We long for things to be easy when we all can see that they actually are quite hard.
Yes, adapting is hard work that will take time. And adapting the current situation will challenge the status quo, or else nothing would be changed. It will definitely require of you to challenge your own beliefs about the situation.
This is why agile methods for the most part is about making things visible. Where people from different parts of the organization can stand together and see things as they are. So that they can make better decisions, faster.
Modifying the Methods are Dangerous
Your situation is different from other's. It is unlikely that your context will be perfectly suited for a method framework such as Scrum or SAFe. And you shouldn't probably change your context, your organization, to fit any of these cookie-cutter frameworks perfectly either.
Your uniqueness is what makes you valuable. Heavily standardized method frameworks, applied in situations where they don't really fit, can risk your business.
So you will to some extent often have to adapt the frameworks to suit you, and select carefully among their practices. But doing so is dangerous: What if you adapt away the effectiveness of them?
Adapt With Focus
One of the greatest temptations when it comes to implementing agile methods is to tone down the visualization. It feels too painful for the organizaton to see where the actual blockers to creativity, productivity and quality are.
But we have to look at the real situation, if we want to understand how our organization and ways of working need to change.
So when asking the question: "How much should we adapt the method to fit the organization, and how much should we adapt the organization to fit the method?", there is an answer:
Adapt the methods so that they clearly show you what your underlying problems are, and where the problems sit!
And use that knowledge to pick up the most effective agile practices that affects exactly those problems. The pracises that will change the organization where needed, as needed.
I Can Help!
If you want to get some help around understanding how to adapt agile methods so that they fit your organization, just let me know!
Be it through workshops, trainings, self-study material, me being present coaching you, or something else.