The Need For Hybrid Agile: An Ambidextrous Organization
It is clear that the adaptability nature of agile practices has changed the face of project management today. The adoption of agile systems development has been increasing lately in the industry due to reported benefits from increased productivity, learning, and business satisfaction, and due to the need for flexibility and innovation in responding to change (Fernandez and Fernandez 2008). However, some adopters have posited that agile might not be adequate for all types of projects and should only be applied to those where it would add value, which means that other traditional non-agile methodologies are still in need for coexistence. This creates the necessity to properly match the project management approach to the project in hand to achieve success (Fernandez and Fernandez 2008).
In addition, contrary to agile purists’ beliefs, applying agile does not mean following roughly all its principles. Organizations transitioning to agile should gradually incorporate the principles that best fit with their cultural needs and commitments. This has introduced the concept of what we call today “hybrid agile”, which is an adaptive approach that mingles agile with other methods tailored to the situational and business needs. Based on statistics from 2011 Agile ALM and Testing Survey, 28 percent of 450 software professionals said they use a hybrid approach. Another study conducted by Analysis.net and VersionOne has shown that out of 4770 respondents from 91 countries, 35 percent mix Agile with Waterfall and 39 percent mix Agile with Scrum (Gale 2012).
The pragmatic need for realizing the stability-adaptability duality balance and for gradually improving for a better agile environment posits challenges on the organization to adjust its people, culture, management, and process to be capable of executing projects using agile and/or non-agile methodologies. Since preparing an organizational culture to accept and implement agile practices might take several years, organizations need to manipulate their structures in a way to gain the welfares of the heterogeneous cultures resulting from the application of agile and non-agile methodologies (Vinekar, Slinkman et al. 2006).
Vinekar and Slinkman (2006) have proposed an ambidextrous organizational form that helps in surmounting these challenges. This organization has two types of subunits, an agile subunit and a traditional subunit. Each subunit, which addresses agile or traditional methodologies based on its type, is separated from the other, but is integrated together through the strategic goals and objectives. The ambidextrous organization opts for the subunit that is most aligned with the client’s cultural characteristics, which for instance define the ability in prioritizing features, providing feedback, specifying requirements upfront, and collaborating actively and tacitly. So if the client favors formal and detailed specifications upfront with the least feedback possible throughout the course of the project, than the traditional subunit would be a noble choice.