The first thing Craig Larman says in his LESS workshop is don’t scale Agile to you absolutely have to. How’s that for a Sales Pitch!
So, not to be cliche, but every organization needs to start with “Why”. Why do you want to scale agile? What will it allow you to accomplish? Typical answers are:
- We want to improve time to market?
- We want to bring more value to our customers
- We want to protect ourselves from disruption
Will scaling Agile really solve these issues? Perhaps eventually, but your talking about turning a complex adaptive system, that is the organization and its culture, on its head. A very daunting task.
What if we compliment the “why” question with “when?” “Mr CEO, when would you like to realize the benefits of Agile?” We all know the answers is always “yesterday.” Is adopting one of the numerous scaling methodologies going to allow you to achieve that? Most likely not.
Which brings me to my sort of “radical” view on scaling. I don’t believe changing your existing organization will allow you to realize the benefits of agile early in the adoption. Instead, start fresh, and form a new agile organization within the walls of your enterprise. Run experiments with different practices from all frameworks to see what works for given your unique objectives and culture. Dealing with the pain points at a smaller scale is much easier.
As we learn, and new objectives surface, on-board new teams into the new organization. If your lucky, the new agile organization will evolve and replace the existing one! Perhaps the scaling issue will surface again, but you will be in a much better position to succeed at this point. This approach is inspired by Ken Schwaber’s Scrum studio concept.