Starting with Scaling

This content is syndicated from LeanAgileTraining by Joe Little. To view the original post in full, click here.

I have gotten a few questions lately that go about like this:

We are starting Scrum. We have the kind of projects that require scaling. But how do we start with Scrum and have some scaling?

The first thing to say is: The basic framework of Scrum does not attempt to answer this question.  It assumes you will use lean-agile-scrum principles and values, and devise your own, specific solution to this problem.

Still, the Scrum community has dealt with this problem many times.  So, here is what Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber and lots of others think are some good ideas to start with.

Let’s assume you are talking about putting 3 teams together to work on one project.  To release roughly every 4 months. Let’s assume each team is about 7 people, including the PO and the SM.

Let’s also assume that we continue to focus on Team success.  Meaning: We realize that the core of activity is inside the Team.  If each Team is not ‘working’, then no amount of scaling is going to help.  So, the Team’s are real teams. Each person is 100% dedicated to one Team.

1. Chief Product Owner.  Each team has a product owner, and, in addition, there is a Chief Product Owner — who manages the Master Product Backlog for all 3 teams.  So, the CPO is not dedicated to one Team, but to all 3 teams.

2. Product Owner group. The CPO and the 3 POs all work together.  They meet daily, in a separate ‘daily stand-up’ (brief, 15-minutes) meeting. To be sure things are coordinated from the business side across all 3 teams.

3. Scrum of Scrums.  SoS.  This means a Daily Scrum across all 3 teams. Specifically, each Team does the usual Daily Scrum.  Then, at least one person from each of the 3 teams comes to the Daily ‘Scrum of Scrums’.  The questions are: (a) what did your teams get done yesterday, (b) what will your team get done today, and (c) what is your team’s biggest impediment.  A Scrum of Scrums Master facilitates this meeting.  And addresses the impediments.

4. Scrum of Scrums Master.  There are few rules as to who this should be.  It could be a manager who is not on any Team. It could be one of the ScrumMasters on one of the Teams. Etc.  But this person becomes the ‘impediment-remover-in-chief’ for the impediments identified in the SoS.

5. Technical Issues. The main work of the SoS is to remove technical impediments. If a business side impediment is high, that probably would be given to the Product Owner group to address.

6. Continuous Integration. To have scaling across 3 teams, it quickly becomes very important to have much better CI (continuous integration).  This is true with just Scrum for one team. But becomes extremely urgent with scaling with 3 teams. Because they are all playing in the same code base.

7. Attendees at the SoS.  The initial idea is that the SMs from each team would form the SoS. This works fine some times.  Other times, the SoS works much better if the best technical person from a team attends.  Use common sense (which is uncommon).

8. Focus on the Teams. It is apparent that, as soon as you have a ‘superstructure’, people lose sight of the Teams and focus on the superstructure. Do not fall for that temptation. Of course, this is quite easy to say, and far harder to do.  Again, everyone should focus mainly within the Teams, and on what each Team produces. As much as they possibly can.

Those few ideas should get you started.  More later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 − 1 =

There are 101 ways to do anything.
To find the best way, sometimes you need expert help

What People Say

“Kelly was engaged as a Program Director on a complex business and technology transformation program for Suncorp Commercial Insurance. Kelly drew on his key capabilities and depth of experience to bring together disparate parties in a harmonised way, ensuring the initiate and concept phases of the program were understood and well formulated. Excellent outcome in a very short time frame. ”


“I worked with Kelly on many projects at IPC and I was always impressed with his approach to all of them, always ensuring the most commercially viable route was taken. He is great at managing relationships and it was always a pleasure working with him.”


“Kelly is an extremely talented and visionary leader. As such he manages to inspire all around him to achieve their best. He is passionate about agile and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear in this area. If you're 'lucky' he might even tell you all about his agile blog. Above all this, Kelly is great fun to work with. He is always relaxed and never gets stressed - and trust me, he had plenty of opportunity here! If you get the chance to work with Kelly, don't pass it up.”


“Kelly was a great colleague to work with - highly competent, trustworthy and generally a nice bloke.”


“Kelly was a brilliant CTO and a great support to me in the time we worked together. I owe Kelly a great deal in terms of direction and how to get things done under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thanks Kelly.”


“Kelly revolutionised the way our digital department operated. A true advocate of agile principles, he quickly improved internal communication within our teams and our internal clients by aligning our business and creating a much enhanced sense of transparency in the decisions the business was making. Kelly also introduced a higher sense of empowerment to the development teams...”


“I worked with Kelly whilst at Thoughtworks and found him to be a most inspiring individual, his common-sense approach coupled with a deep understanding of Agile and business makes him an invaluable asset to any organisation. I can't recommend Kelly enough.”


“Kelly’s a leading program director with the ability to take charge from day one and keep strong momentum at both a program and project level driving prioritisation, resourcing and budgeting agendas. Kelly operates with an easy-going style and possesses a strong facilitation skill set. From my 5 months experience working with Kelly, I would recommend Kelly to program manage large scale, complex, cross company change programs both from a business and IT perspective.”


“Kelly and I worked together on a very large project trying to secure a new Insurer client. Kelly had fantastic commercial awareness as well as his technical expertise. Without him I would never had secured this client so I owe a lot to him. He is also a really great guy!”


“Kelly came to the department and has really made a huge impact on how the department communicates, collaborates and generally gets things done. We were already developing in an agile way, but Kelly has brought us even more into alignment with agile and scrum best practices, being eager to share information and willing to work with us to change our processes rather than dictate how things must be done. He is highly knowledgable about agile development (as his active blog proves) but his blog won't show what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he is. I highly recommend Kelly to anyone looking for a CTO or a seminar on agile/scrum practices - you won't be disappointed!”


“Kelly is an Agile heavy-weight. He came in to assess my multi-million $ Agile development program which wasn’t delivering the right throughput. He interviewed most of the team and made some key recommendations that, when implemented, showed immediate results. I couldn’t ask for more than that except he’s a really nice guy as well.”



To explore how we can help you, please get in touch