Once you start Scrumming, get ready to Scale!

“If you can’t Scrum, you can’t Scale”. Most of us have heard this before. We would all have a resounding “How true!!” upon hearing that statement. Based on my experiences, I would add; you need to be ready to Scale once you start to Scrum!

As a Scrum coach, it is not uncommon to observe departments and organizations needing to start conversations on how to scale Scrum earlier vs. later.

This need to be ready to scale early in the journey has become so common I now begin coaching engagements with conversations that include what scaling can look like and how they may want to consider how to structure leadership now, so they will be better prepared for the inevitability of scaling. The caution here is to not assume a big bang approach – the company ‘going Agile’.  These warnings are described in HBR, Agile at Scale by Darrell K. Rigby, Jeff Sutherland and Andy Noble.  A big bang approach may be difficult and painful. Suggested instead is to create a Reference Model for a small set of teams that implement Scrum well.

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I experienced  the value of this approach this summer co-coaching with an annuity company. We were originally asked to train, coach and support two pilot Scrum teams. The experiment was to test out this different way of working (i.e standing up Scrum as intented) and then evaluate the new process. As we were conducting the boot camp for the pilot teams, the folks not a part of a the pilot were ‘going rouge’ and setting into motion additional Scrum teams! This company was faced with reality fairly quickly - Scrum works and those on the peripheral cannot help to see and want to join in rather than wait. With this company, after 3 Sprints, the Business and Information Technology department leaders met and began discussions on moving the rest of their folks to Scrum teams.

Fortunately, leadership at this company was positioned for this eventuality! Leadership began their Agile journey by forming their own Scrum team. They used Scrum to implement Scrum! They quickly saw their value as an Executive Action Team (EAT)!

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This example cemented a leadership conversation is key to defining the Executive Action Team (EAT). Even if a department or organization does not choose to scale Scrum, the EAT can be an effective mechanism for Scrum teams to assist in removing impediments outside the Scrum teams ability to remove. Including the impediment of not having a shared understanding and alignment of teams working differently and how communication and collaboration will be changed and supported through the department and organization.

Scrum has proven to be THE framework for high performing teams working on complex, innovative work. Whether work is software, hardware, marketing, services, etc.when companies see the value of a high performing team, they act quickly to keep the successes going and building out more high performing teams. According to the Scrum@Scale guide, Scrum@Scale is a framework within which networks of Scrum teams can continue to address complex adaptive problems while creatively delivering products of the highest value. Sound familiar? So…… when you can Scrum, you can Scale!

To find out more on how to do this within your department, organization or company join me at a certified Scrum@Scale class. Click here for more information.

Dee Rhoda is an Agile Coach and Trainer with Collaborative Leadership Team.  Her credentials include, CSP®, ICP-ACC®, CLP, Scrum at Scale Trainer®.  She is the second Midwest trainer approved to train Dr. Jeff Sutherland's Scrum at Scale class.  

Dee lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is married with two sons. Dee is an avid golfer, constantly seeking the elusive lower handicap (and little white ball). When she is not on the golf course, she enjoys spending time with family and friends over a game of cards.