Scaling Agile requires the coordination and collaboration of hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of smart independently minded individuals. To scale Agile, a small set of simple goals are needed that individuals and teams in the organisation can focus on, aware that if they achieve the goal, they are part of something much bigger. They can then use the most appropriate practice to achieve that goal.
One of the key learnings from our experience at Skype was that we had to keep the process so simple that people did not have an excuse for not following it. If people did not follow the process, it was because they did not want to follow it rather than the process was too complicated and they made a mistake.
To get your head around scaled agile, we need to consider the different “levels” or “concerns” in the organisation:
So what are those things? What are the goals are each level?
There is one goal at the executive level:
- Ensure that the executives have transparency into the system to ensure that the goals are being met.
There are two goals at the portfolio level:
- Ensure that the backlog of Epics (single team and cross team) is strictly ordered (i.e. no joint 3rd priority) based on the constraints in the organisation. One of the key constraints at the organisation level is the capacity of individual teams.
- Manage capacity by moving capacity to the constraints, and planning capacity for the future. This involves ensuring that there is capacity in the system to meet any commitments that have been made to external parties.
Team of Teams
The goals at the team of team level:
- Deliver Value.
- Reduce Lead time for the delivery of value.
- Reduce Lead time for fixing production incidents.
- Reduce the number of production incidents.
The team of teams level is fundamentally about delivering value.
The goal at the team level:
- Ensure that delivery is value focused. That means that each Epics (single team and cross team) should deliver value rather than be bucket for stories.
- Ensure that team level delivery is predictable and consistent. Consistent in terms of quality. Consistent in terms of size. Predictable in terms of quantity.
The three steps to Scaled Agile
Here are the three steps to scaled agile:
- Get teams to deliver value in a predictable, and focus team of teams on reducing lead time.
- Create a system of transparency so that you can see how everyone is progressing to achieve their goals.
- Bring business decision makers to come together to prioritise the backlog of Epics (single team and team of team).
These simple rules allow the organisation to coordinate and collaborate without having to understand the entire system. From these simple rules, the organisation can generate complex and speedy responses.
The following practices, tools and thinking tools will help you achieve the goals:
So what have I missed? Which goals do the organisation need to achieve in order to scale agile? Comments please.