All too often when a company starts to get larger, the problems that are being solved seem to feel larger also. When addressing the key problems to be solved by the Agile teams working on software or solutions for clients, it is important to make sure that we are clear in what we are trying to solve. Many people believe that scaling frameworks with Agile are necessary to address increase complexity, size or quantity of problems to be addressed or any other myriad of concerns that come up within a company. Let’s look at when it makes sense to scale and when simplification is the answer.
Single Agile Team
Perhaps this is one of the simplest forms of Agile when we have a single threaded backlog and a single team working on that backlog. You might ask yourself, why do we even need to talk about this in relation to scaling? It is crucial to draw the distinction between simple and complex as far as what allows a team or a single backlog to help a team be successful. Clarity of roles and responsibilities is important with having a Scrum Master, Product Owner and Team Members that are familiar with and supportive of one another’s roles. This is so important that it is called out in Step #3 of the AgileDad 12 Step Program. A team with a single thread or single product they are developing and supporting makes it easier for the Product Owner to specify when a new feature is being created versus fixing a pre-existing situation with the system that is causing angst for the customer. The goal is always to have a single prioritized backlog regardless of how many products or solutions are being supported so a team knows what they are focusing on for a given timeframe or sprint. In this example, no particular scaling is necessary as the Product Owner, Scrum Master and Team Members all exist within the single Agile Team to produce real working solutions on a regular basis. A key narrative I like to point out here is that the Scrum Master plays a key role in helping this type of a team improve incrementally. Pointed out in a previous podcast episode entitled “Are ALL ScrumMasters The Same? – CSM – PSM – SAFe SM – DASM”, regardless of the type of certification obtained, the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner take ownership of the product backlog to deliver the right product while helping the team take ownership of building the product right. The Scrum Master in turn takes ownership of the speed of delivery by making sure it is sustainable.