Chapter 2. Finding Your North Star

Escaping the Frameworks Trap

This is how we’re doing things, so get out.

This was the message given to an experienced Agile coach tasked with transforming a transportation company in the United Kingdom. His crime? Asking why.

This company, like many companies, had picked out an Agile framework that it was convinced would deliver the speed and flexibility it desired. The framework this company chose came with new, fancy vocabulary. It came with a set of easy-to-follow rituals. It came with the promise that if these rituals were observed to the letter, this company would be able to work faster and more efficiently than ever before.

But this Agile coach, having been through this kind of thing before, was not interested in following the letter of the law without having a candid conversation about the intent of the law. “Why did we choose this particular framework?” “What are the principles we are following in our implementation?” “How will this be different from the way we are currently working?” These were the exact questions that members of this team did not want to ask, and they made this known in no uncertain terms.

Six months later, another Agile coach working with the same company returned to check on its progress. This Agile coach described the situation to me as follows:

They had become “experts” in the methodology they chose—but they were basically doing everything the same way that they had before, just with different jargon. “Instead ...

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