The Promises of Frameworks - Do they know your system?

I have been a coach for 5+ years now primarily focusing on enterprise agility. During that time I have worked at many organisations and worked with a number of frameworks including LeSS, Scrum, Kanban etc.

During this time I have worked closely across the organisations and teams on their journey of using these frameworks and I wanted to share my thoughts and pose a few questions

First, I wanted to look at what all of these frameworks fundamentally promise(At a High Level)…

What I have found is that each of them promise this ‘Golden Challis’ of results to anyone who can follow the framework.

Speaking of which it may be a good time to explore the meaning of Framework….

“ A structure for supporting or enclosing something else, especially a skeletal support used as the basis for something being constructed.”

If I look at the words from the statement above what jumps out for me is Skeleton and Support/Supporting as well as the concept of it being in support of something else.

I wanted to cover this point as I am sure some of you are thinking “well that’s the point of these frameworks isn’t it…. We don’t have to follow them to the letter!”

I completely agree that for me I have learnt that these frameworks are simply a collection of practices and principles that someone has decided to bring together with the promise of something at the end. For me personally I believe we should not follow these frameworks to the letter as they were designed against general characteristics and not specifically for your unique system. Is that how these frameworks are represented to us, as things we can partly follow? Or is it we are shown if we put ‘This’ through the framework and follow it we will get ‘This’ as a result? What are your thoughts?

I would also like to explore the words that jumped out for me in a little more detail, so let’s begin with Skeleton. This for me would say that a framework should be light in nature and have a simplicity to it. I completely agree with this as its my experience that people, especially in large organisations, find comfort in complexity and often they believe in it is because they view it as higher quality. For me I like to follow this principle…

I believe that by exploring both the need or problem that we are trying to solve along with the objective view of the system as it currently stands, we can find simple and effective constructs that enable us to be successful. Where as Frameworks that are being offered to organisations seem to be getting more and more complex, don’t get me wrong this is a sliding scale and a quick view of this would be…

What are your thoughts here? Do you believe this is a necessary complexity? Do you think they are complex? Would you prefer simplicity?

That seems to be enough said on that for now, I would now like to look at the words Support/Supporting. I want to explore this specifically in terms of it being in service of somethings else.

The something else for me is the unique system for which I often find myself coaching. I like to look at every organisation and team/area within that organisation as unique, they have a unique set of customers, demands, constraints, people etc. With all of that being said I like to make sure that anything I do is in service of helping that system flourish and often what I have found is by focusing on attempting to implement these frameworks people tend to shift there mindset to conformity with that framework which then becomes the expectation of everyone else.

From what I have seen this then tends to be something that is driven and sold to the teams and organisation. I love to help people deeply understand their unique system and then look at not the frameworks that are being offered to them but to identify the practices, principles and values that they believe will provide them with success moving forward. Then to continuously re-shape and re-invent those practices and principles to meet their current situation, taking learning from each experiment.

I have found that also by removing the constraint that a framework either implicitly or explicitly puts in place can greatly help them create something that means something to their unique system.

What are your thoughts here? Do you think organisations and teams just need help to implement the frameworks or should we be helping them create something of meaning for their unique environment?

Wow, quick confession. This started as a short question to pose on LinkedIn however when I started typing all of the above came up for me, hopefully you can share your thoughts as all viewpoints welcome 😊

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