Scaling, Deepening and Broadening Agile

1 Jun 2015 | Product Management

Last week I was on the scaling agile workshop at the amazing XPConf 2015 at Helsinki.

scaling-agile-xpconf2015

Jutta Eckstein, the workshop presenter, the great Charlie Poole along with all workshop participants had a quick and great conversation about the term: scaling agile. Are we talking about the same thing? Is scaling the right word for it?

 

All workshop participants shared a little about their experiences and expectations on scaling agile. It was clear to me that many of us mean different things when we say scaling agile.

 

Charlie suggested a better term would be: Broadening Agile.

 

Broadening Agile. I loved it! I related to the term right away. It is exactly what I am doing on a client at the moment: I am getting lean and agile principles and practices from the IT department and broadening it towards the whole (large) organization.

 

Today, one day after the workshop, I stopped to reflect about the terms again. It means different things for different people. Perhaps thinking about myself over the past ten years, and the different (large) organizations I was either sharing or applying agile and lean concepts and practices.

 

What were we (these agile folks–including myself) doing? Scaling Agile? Broadening Agile?

 

After reflecting on my present and past engagements, and rethinking the terms, I suggest the following terms: (1) deepening agile, (2) scaling agile, and (3) broadening agile.

 

These three terms describe different aspects on applying agile on large organizations. Below, I will give one example for each of these terms.

 

deepening agile

deepening agile

In 2006 I was working on a small agile team in a large organization. As a developer / agile coach I was helping that team with TDD, mock objects and script automation. The team was deepening their knowledge on XP agile practices.

 

scaling agile

scaling agile

In 2009 I was working on a organization as a team manager (one out of ten team managers) on a programme of 200 engineers, 10 teams, all working on the same code base, on a coordinated, orchestrated and synchronized release cycle. It is important to say that the programme of work started in 2007 with one Scrum team of ten people following XP practices such as TDD and Continuous Integration. The team (s) grew over time along with its growing challenges. On those years we were getting what worked for agile teams and tried scaling it, making it work for to the whole programme of work.

 

broadening agile

broadening agile

Currently (2014-2015), I have been working on a large organization (200 projects, involving 4000 people from several departments and third party companies) on a organizational transformation strategic project. On this project an experienced group of people are looking at improving the time to market for the organization portfolio. For doing so we did some work on the IT department related to software delivery, and a lot of work with the other departments, such as PMO, legal, procurement, finance, HR and recruiting. We have also been working with the third party companies. The team is getting lean and agile principles and practices from the IT department and broadening it towards the whole organization, and its partners.

Paulo Caroli

Paulo Caroli is the author of the best-selling book “Lean Inception: How to Align People and Build the Right Product” (the first on a series of books about Lean Strategy and Delivery). He's also the creator of FunRetrospectives.com , a site and book about retrospectives, futurospectives and team building activities. Caroli writes on this blog frequently. Receive the next post in your email. Sign up here .
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