Part of the key to Scrum's success is that it allows for context-driven solutions and processes – which is why no two Scrum implementations are identical. So why does the conversation about scaling Scrum focus on finding a prescriptive, one-size fits all solution? The conversation should instead be about how to scale the underlying principles of the Scrum framework that have enabled it to be so adaptable.
The Scrum at Scale framework™ is our first move in that direction. It is a minimal extension of the core Scrum framework that keeps the modular structure at the core of the Scrum framework, and allows you to scale a Scrum implementation tailored to the unique needs of your company.
In the video below Scrum Inc. Chief Product Owner Alex Brown talks about the Scrum at Scale™ framework and the rationale behind a modular approach.
There are four major reasons why we think modularity is important:
- Modularity allows versatility. Scrum has been successful in a wide variety of product and project contexts. It’s been used for everything from traditional software development to designing a new granola bar or designing complex integrated defense systems. No single prescriptive approach could work in all of those different contexts. You need something that is modular to adapt to the specific strategic context of your company.
- Scrum is modular. At its roots, Scrum is inherently modular. For example the Retrospective ceremony within scrum doesn’t tell you exactly how you have to implement the retro, it just says that at the end of it, you need to have a plan for improving the team process, puts some bounds around how long that meeting should take, and gives guidance on who should attend that meeting. It leaves the actual practices for how to do that to the team that is actually conducting the retrospective. And as a result, we’ve seen a proliferation of different practices that are successful in lots of different contexts.
- Deploying incrementally is easier. If you have a modular context and you define all of the interconnections between modules ahead of time (namely what the goal of the module is, what the input to the module is, and what the output of the module is) then it doesn’t matter what happens inside that black box as long as it meets those constraints it still satisfies the goal of the module. That means you don’t need to have an entire solution delivered in one “big bang” at the very beginning of your scaling. It frees you to iteratively use Scrum to incrementally develop the modules that are most important to you and after several iterations have a fully-fledged scaled Scrum.
- Modularity supports a pattern library. A library of what people have tried in the past, and in what context, is a great way to accelerate the speed with which you can try new scaling experiments. As an agile community, we can quickly build, distil, and capture knowledge so that we can improve the state of the art by borrowing patterns and practices that have been used by other companies in a similar context to ours, and then contribute incremental learnings back to that library. It’s a powerful concept that allows us to crowdsource the development of scaling Scrum.
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