Breaking Some Myths about the Use of Dual-Track Agile

Bringing both flexibility and transparency, the Dual-Track Agile methodology is increasingly popular. With a growing number of teams that decide to try it out, it is worth taking a look at some widespread misconceptions that could easily reduce efficiency and hinder progress. So, without further ado, let us explore the most common myths about Dual-Track Agile:

Myth 1: “Dual Track Agile will solve all of my problems”

Over the years, I’ve realised that people tend to go for a new framework that they want to apply at any cost. Viewing it as a universal fix for all of their problems, they also assume it can and will fit any situation.

dual-track agile myth 1

Just think of how many companies out there are currently applying the so-called ‘Spotify’ model in an attempt to better structure their product teams in this digital world. To borrow a metaphor from software development, people are looking for a white label that they can just apply and not bother configuring it. And as with any other methodology out there, finding such a solution is a myth.

The same expectations of a single solution to fix it all are constantly applied to Dual-Track as well. It needs to be applied with caution, its fitness for the team and organisation carefully evaluated.

Be intentional when you both consider and articulate the reasons for introducing this framework at your workplace. Make sure to specify the main pain points this can address and have clear measurements of success, so when you trial it, you can actually see if it is making a difference. And finally, feel free to come up with innovative ways to customise parts of the model that you feel are not right for you in its traditional form.

Myth 2: “I can just figure out how to apply it as I go”

A way to see if something will work and if it is worth doing in future is to trial it for a period of time. The same goes for the application of Dual-Track Agile.

dual-track agile myth 2

Start by discussing different implementations with your team and agreeing on the best approach; ‘ways of working’ sessions are highly impactful here. Then settle on the way to track discovery, covering:

  • How you are going to prioritise the items as part of it;
  • What ‘done’ means for your items;
  • How you are going to decide if you should build, kill or keep learning about an item.

Having all of this clarified at the start of your trial will help you avoid some of the main challenges of applying the Dual-Track model, so you will not need to address them on the go.

Finally, it is essential that you agree on what trial period success would constitute beforehand. This is the only way you can then assess efficiency and decide if you should continue using it. Bear in mind that the trial period should be long enough to allow you to gather all the data you need for an assessment (a quarter being a good period).

Myth 3: “All work/ideas must move from discovery to development”

The core essence of having both a discovery and a development track is to make it easier for you to decide if an item is worth investing time and effort to build. Since the discovery track determines what to build and the development track determines how to build it, it is only natural that the former might indicate we should not actually build some of the items.

dual-track agile myth 3

Often, teams and stakeholders feel that by deciding not to move an idea to development, any discovery time put into it has been wasted. However, by proceeding to development, they are effectively wasting even more time on it.

Such mistakes show that at the end of the day you are not making the most of the model’s main benefit, viz. helping you decide what items would have the biggest ROI, so you can focus on building those in the development track.

If you apply the model correctly, you can expect to end up with a number of ideas to bin or park for the time being. So, dare to be selective, and keep in mind that knowing what you should and should not be investing effort in are equally important.

Final thoughts

Dual-Track Agile is designed to improve continuity and flexibility within your team. However, like any other model, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution and it should be applied with your goals and its own specifics in mind.

final mythYou can explore ways to adjust it to your own needs. Just make sure your modifications do not interfere with its core design, so you do not miss out on the main advantages the model provides.

This article is a part of a series dedicated to Dual-Track Agile.

Also head to the Infinite Lambda blog for more insightful content and how-to articles.

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