Digital Mindset GmbH


#digidingens: The Stacey Matrix 

Or rather, the agile Stacey Matrix. 

Combining the original Stacey Matrix with the Cynefin Framework (yes, more buzzwords) is a valuable tool for agile working. You can read the original theories here and here - otherwise it would go too far at this point. 

The structure of the Stacey Matrix

The Stacey Matrix and the resulting environments simple, complicated, complex and chaotic result from the tension between the two dimensions requirement (WHAT) and procedure (HOW): 

  1. WHAT = requirement: What problem is to be solved, what requirement are we dealing with, or what is the task?  Requirements are either clear and unambiguous or, at the other extreme, unclear and ambiguous. 
  1. HOW = Procedure: With which methods, which approach, which technologies can we best implement these requirements or solve the occurring problem? The solution can either be clear and known or, at the other extreme, unknown and completely new.

The Stacey Matrix

This results in the dimensions simple, complicated, complex, chaotic. You can now assess the use of agile methods in a meaningful way. 

And what do you conclude from the results?

Simple - No agile methods

In simple environments, the problem and solution are known and can be solved with a high degree of certainty and predictability. You work with standards, best practices and do what you have always done. You can easily scale and distribute work based on predefined checklists. The use of agile methods is unnecessary and creates more effort than necessary or may even cause a disruption. 

Complicated - Organize work with Kanban

Complicated environments are characterized by a high number of variables that nevertheless follow a linear causality. However, since there are too many variables to easily keep track of, you need time and possibly experts for extensive analyses and the development of plans. Agile methods like Kanban can help you organize your work and workflow with the involvement of many people. 

Complex - Scrum, OKR, Spotify model

Complex environments are characterized by many variables that interact with each other. No matter how much you invest initially, you can’t possibly predict what exactly will happen. That means you can only make assumptions, learn through constant trial and error, and recognize patterns. In such environments, the use of agile methods is mandatory. For example, you can use the Spotify model to align your organization, OKR to synchronize the work of individual teams with business goals, and Scrum to organize the work of one or more teams. 

Chaos - Lean Startup and Design Thinking

Chaos is not to be avoided per se, then innovation takes place at the border to chaos. This means that the closer you get to chaos, the more you have to rely on very short iteration cycles. Here, procedural agile methods like Scrum almost get in your way more than they help. Here you are dependent on fast action, many experiments and direct feedback. The more uncertain your project, the more important it is to build and test simple prototypes quickly in a design thinking process. As soon as your project is a bit more mature, you can continue working with a Minimum Viable Product and the Lean Startup method.   

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