Agile Method Vs Framework

Agile 07 May 2021
Ramesh Nori

Being a SAFe SPCT coupled with Teaching, Training, Coaching and Advisory experience in Enterprise Transformations, often behoves me into guiding my clients towards fundamental concepts. These are those foundational elements and/or concepts that each Individual must have clarity on prior to embarking on an often tedious and unspirited journey of Agile Transformations.

One such item that I want to bring clarity on is the concept of "Framework Vs Agile" and what is the primary difference.

Note - I am not here to start Agile evangelical wars in the world of Frameworks dominating the current landscape. But this is my humble attempt for an Info share and take it in for what it is worth to you. :)

In my past experience with Transformation Clients and/or Students from my numerous Agile and SAFe classes that I helped with - there were many misconstrued concepts. One such understanding is that they believed that a Framework itself was Agile. Well - let's clarify that and help bring about the difference between the two.

Agile is a mindset that helps you to deliver work incrementally. Fundamental objective if being Agile is to help with Mitigating Risk associated with the uncertainty of the world that the product is being developed in.

A Framework is a proven set of (a collection of) practices and principles that help to guide an organization in a systematic way. Having a rule book, it helps immensely with understanding our strengths and weaknesses, with What we know and What we don't know. It helps to have a starting point with elemental activities that help to scale up and become consistent and predictable in product development initiatives.

To make this easier to understand - imagine a bottle of water. If the bottle is comparable to a rigid structure with some dimensional attributes - such as shape, size, markings etc, the water inside is comparable to the Agile way of Product thinking. 

Depending on the shape of the bottle, the water inside will take its shape - hence it is being Agile.

Agile Example

In the same way, we tend to choose the appropriate shape and size of the bottle, the Framework should be chosen too. Also for water to maintain its natural state of flow, the Teams must be coached and trained in an appropriate Agile way of thinking. Hence the heavy emphasis on Flow-based Product management is being given.

Coupling this together - Agile Thinking with an appropriate Framework will then become the first step towards a successful Transformation that focuses on Value.