The existence of hybrid approach in Agile
All Agile frameworks (Scrum, Lean, XP …) propose roles, artefacts, concepts and principles that have been thought as well-oiled pieces of machinery. There is a well-balanced harmony between all these pieces that are dependent on each other to fulfil their purpose, such as a PO who is in charge of maintaining the items of the product backlog – in permanent collaboration – the Dev team will deliver them, for instance.
However, it rarely applies as such in the field. Due to the complexity of their environment, many organisations may claim that they are working in an Agile environment but prefer to implement Hybrid approaches. In this case, do not be surprised to be assigned a role and/or tasks that will deviate from the pure, theoretical Agile way of working that you have learned in training materials.
The Agile transformation of an organisation does not mean that every practice from the past should be thrown away. Hybrid approaches are models that combine key elements of the Agile approach with non-Agile methodologies, such as what is often called the Water-Scrum-Fall :
Value-based approach around products, with shorter iterations for regular delivery of increments.
Schedule-based methodology with plan and costs clearly estimated in advance of projects.
There is no single, specific definition of the Agile/non-Agile Hybrid model as it can take many different shapes depending on the goals and needs of the organisation. Nevertheless, here are two examples that we experienced on-site so you can have a better idea of what it can be to work in such Hybrid environment:
- Within an organisation active in the sector of Financial Services, the management team still requires systematically – as a mandatory step – a full scope baselining for IT projects in order to keep better control of budget while the delivery is done incrementally.
- A team being part of a certain department is exceptionally working in Waterfall – even though all the other teams are working in Agile – as their scalability is impacted given that the team is in charge of a web application with a monolithic architecture (i.e., built as an indivisible unit, unlike more modern software based on modular architectures like microservices). This kind of organisation can make cross-team delivery more difficult to manage.
In this kind of environment, it is important – especially if you are a new Agile practitioner – to remain flexible in your role and take the time to understand what your client is really expecting from you and your interactions with your colleagues. Of course, your client may have very good reasons to maintain Agile and non-Agile elements in the same Hybrid environment but it doesn’t prevent you from making suggestions for improvement when you identify a gap in terms of efficiency.