Sept. 17, 2015

Q&A with Learning Consortium on Scaling Agile

Members of the Scrum Alliance Learning Consortium were guests at our annual Coach Camp and took part in a Q&A on Scaling Agile for the Enterprise

It's been a great pleasure to meet with members of the Scrum Alliance Learning Consortium and to have them as guests during our company-wide Coach Camp in Ann Arbor, Michigan last August. The rationale for their presence has been explained by Andrea Acheson, Managing Director of agile42 in North America: "visiting the other Learning Consortium sites I had a big question about how to explain agile42 company culture to other members of SALC and we thought the best way was to invite them to our annual company coach camp". The same feeling by agile42 CEO Marion Eickmann: "At the beginning I was sceptical because this occasion is very important for us but I think we found a really nice format to show how agile42 works and at the same time involve our guests."

Learning Consortium

Not merely "watchers", they took part in some of our usual activities and especially in the "Enterprise" track of discussion slots during the Camp. This is not a surprise since growing Agile beyond the one team (or "scaling Agile") is an area of interest for Scrum Alliance and Consortium members and also one of agile42 areas of expertise, as seen from our Enterprise Transition Framework™ and our Agile at Scale training initiative.

At the end of our Coach Camp track we shared opinions, with Steve Denning commenting that workplaces (even software giants like Microsoft) are very different from what they were at the end of the 20th century: "they are all on a journey, it's now impossible to go back." Echoed by Eickmann: "They thought Agile was a passing thing, but in the end it's all about people and people cannot be satisfied with just the money they earn, they also need quality in their work life."

Again Denning set the tone of the debate: "These 5-year old general discussions about Agile are virtually over, now the question is how we scale Agile and in doing so we are actually talking about company strategy and then vision beyond Agile" while Atresh Krishnappa, director at Brillio, added that companies need to focus on the long term picture, and Richard Sheridan, founder of Menlo Innovations and author of the book Joy, Inc., stressed that "it's time that the business community takes advantage of what we've been building for the last 10-15 years." Or, as said by Denning: "We are inventing the future and the challenge is communicating properly the results we got".

Panel with SALC15 members during agile42 Coach Camp in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Andrea Tomasini of agile42 explained the company approach: "we believe that Agile is more than practices and tools, we don't market ourselves as business consultants but we have tools like the Agile Strategy Map™ and the ETF that support a company strategy and help validate experiments to identify critical success factors. The hard part of scaling Agile is scaling the culture, to create transformations that are long-lasting."

Most of the discussion revolved around the hot topic in the Agile community, scaling Agile. However as Eickmann said: "Scaling is the wrong word, I prefer growing instead.” There is consensus that the community needs to talk more about growing rather than scaling, the biggest challenge is witnessing success in a team then the same recipe is copied blindly in another team or department with predictable poor results. Hence the cries that Agile doesn’t work or (more recently) that Agile doesn’t scale. The mindset adopted by big organizations often is not apt for Agile, and more deep changes will be needed, “maybe we need another generation”. Sheridan added that "when they come and see at Menlo, they say 'this cannot scale in my big org' and I reply 'how do your processes scale?'".

As Tomasini put it: "The moment you standardize it, you kill it, you kill the emergent nature and adaptations that make Agile what it is. We have actively guided and supported very large Agile transformations and the most difficult issue we met is that in the two years needed for the transformation, many companies changed up to three different CEOs that didn't know the existing situation and wanted to implement their own specific vision." Eickmann also explained that when agile42 approaches a company, first their environment is put under heavy scrutiny in order to understand the better approach to change which is supportive of the existing culture, without bringing a ready-made blueprint good for everyone. “If you go in and change role names only you change nothing." Summarised by Michael Pacanowsky from Westminster College: “It's somehow wrong that 'culture eats strategy for lunch' because they need to work together, and culture provides the context.”

Image of davesharrock

Dave Sharrock

Agile coach passionate about getting things done; helping teams exceed expectations, delivering organizational excellence, and all while having fun doing what they do.
Image of marion

Marion Eickmann

I am one of the founders and the executive director at agile42. I have supported strategic product development and leadership development for longer than 15 years. Since 2007 I have been realizing local and global agile projects with agile42's international team successfully. You like to talk about: ORGANIC agility, complexity, resilience, organizational culture & Agile? Just send an email :-)
blog comments powered by Disqus
Image of davesharrock

Dave Sharrock

Agile coach passionate about getting things done; helping teams exceed expectations, delivering organizational excellence, and all while having fun doing what they do.
Image of marion

Marion Eickmann

I am one of the founders and the executive director at agile42. I have supported strategic product development and leadership development for longer than 15 years. Since 2007 I have been realizing local and global agile projects with agile42's international team successfully. You like to talk about: ORGANIC agility, complexity, resilience, organizational culture & Agile? Just send an email :-)

Latest Posts

Advanced Agile Team Coaching Course in Berlin and Helsinki

Join agile42 coaches to learn a more structured approach to coaching teams
Image of pascal

Pascal Papathemelis

Pascal has worked as an agile project manager/scrum master/facilitator of various developments in size and type for almost two decades. His focus is on people and practical approaches in order to deliver value. Currently Pascal is working at agile42 as an agile coach on a journey to help organisations and individuals grow, improve and become more efficient in a sustainable way.
Image of javierperez

Javier Pérez

Javier invested his first years of career working as developer and business analyst in Madrid. When Javier moved to Berlin, he discovered his passion: to help teams and organizations in their cultural transformation towards agility working first as Scrum Master and later as Team Coach.
Image of simsab

Simon Sablowski

Simon has spent several years working as a software developer, ScrumMaster and CTO. He is dedicated to shortening feedback loops to accelerate learning and strengthening team collaboration to maximise synergies. At agile42, Simon enjoys coaching and training teams and organisations that desire to attain higher productivity, continuous innovation and extraordinary performance.

Cynefin, Wardley Maps and ORGANIC agility in Stockholm

Workshop by Dave Snowden and Simon Wardley “Navigate uncertainty: Strategy and innovation with Cynefin™ & Wardley Maps” is coming to Stockholm

Image of sofia.svanback

Sofia Svanbäck

I am the Business Relationship Manager of agile42 in Finland and Sweden. I started working at agile42 in May 2018 and haven’t done anything so interesting before. The decision to join agile42 is a decision I am proud of today. My days are filled with customer related things, like negotiations, offers, and training / coaching bookings to mention a few.

Invitation and Call for Paper: Manage Agile 2019

Call for Paper for Manage Agile 2019 conference, to be held in Berlin in November 2019, is open until June 30

Image of abragad

Alessio Bragadini

Web community manager of agile42, trying to post relevant, informational, fun bits of content on the blog and social networks

Peter Hundermark One on One with Klaus Leopold

Watch Peter Hundermark on Klaus Leopold's Lean Business Agility channel

Image of abragad

Alessio Bragadini

Web community manager of agile42, trying to post relevant, informational, fun bits of content on the blog and social networks

Scrumtisch July 2019

The Berlin Scrum User Group meets on July 4th at agile42, Gruenberger Str. 54, 10245 Berlin.

Image of aballer

Alexandra Baller

agile42 Team Assistant