Why Hybrid Agile is Neither Hybrid, Nor Agile

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

In another article this month, I’ve argued that hybrid isn’t a methodology. However, there are a few groups that make an argument that there is a very specific hybrid approach that is referred to as “hybrid agile” (or a similar term depending on the organization involved). You can even find something called a “hybrid project management manifesto” if you look, and that truly is trying to ride the coattails of agile!

I’m generally a believer in letting organizations use whichever project management approach works for them, but this time I’m going to take a little bit more of a stand. I don’t like this particular version of hybrid, and I want to explain why.

What is hybrid agile?
While there are a few slightly different versions, hybrid agile approaches generally insert a work breakdown structure (WBS) ahead of the product backlog in an otherwise agile approach. The idea is that the full set of product requirements are developed up front, and these allow for the creation of a high-level plan to be developed in full before work starts. This then provides more visibility into the work that is scheduled to take place.

However, only the first sprint is planned out in detail and then handed off to the scrum master to execute. When feedback from the customer is received, it doesn’t directly feed the next sprint, but …

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Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

- Jerry Seinfeld