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What Are The Difficulties When Scaling Scrum?

What are the Difficulties When Scaling Scrum – LeSS Matters Podcast

Scrum emerged from brilliant people doing brilliant work, their light bulb moment? Traditional waterfall-style project management could no longer serve the complex and ambiguous environments they worked in.

Since 1995, it has become the most popular Agile framework for producing products and services that truly delight customers. Often, companies need to make a significant shift in their organisational mindset to accommodate the lightweight framework.

In this LeSS Bite I walk you through some of the common difficulties when scaling Scrum.

What are the difficulties when scaling Scrum?

What are the common pitfalls and difficulties faced by organisations, teams, managers, leaders, etc. when they try to scale scrum?

Regardless of size, culture, or geographic region, one of the major problems that I often see with different organisations is that people like the idea of ‘copy and paste’ Scrum.

The Scrum Guide defines a Scrum team as a Scrum Master, a Product Owner, and a development team. Organisations create these Scrum Team units and simply ‘copy and paste’ them across the organisation.

So, every team gets their own Product Owner. Every team gets their own Scrum Master.

The problem with this is that when it comes to scaling Scrum, too much empowerment is given to individual teams.

And I say this with great respect.

The goal of Scrum at Scale is to optimise for the whole system.

When we have product ownership at a team level, it leads to optimisation at the local level rather than the whole, dynamic system.

Optimisation at the local level means that multiple teams are moving in different directions. They may be subtle differences in the beginning but like the trajectory of an aeroplane, small shifts in degrees lead to entirely different destinations than planned.

You could leave point A together and find that teams are on totally different continents a few weeks or months down the line.

When we’re scaling scrum, we shouldn’t look to do this copy and paste approach.

Scrum was brilliant because it focuses everything on a single Product Backlog and put a single person responsible for that at the top.

So, when we’re scaling scrum, we don’t want to move away from that.

We want to keep that, and we want to maintain that because that allows us to globally optimise our entire system.

Another one of the challenges that I’ve seen when people try and adopt Scrum is that they haven’t got enough skills on the team.

And some of that is down to, in my opinion, an inadequate focus upon the ‘definition of done’.

According to Scrum, you have a single ‘definition of done’, per product and per product backlog. And so, what I like to see is that you maintain a single ‘definition of done’ across the entire organisation which helps you avoid the challenges and difficulties of scaling scrum.

A common baseline, that all teams will work towards in every Sprint.

The third and biggest challenge organisations have when it comes to scaling scrum is that they have separate teams working on different sprints.

Scrum consists of one Product, one Sprint, and one Definition of Done.

In my opinion, if you want to scale successfully using Scrum you must keep to a single sprint and ensure that all teams are working on the same sprint cycle.

Teams begin and end on the same day, and they share both sprint reviews as well as the first part of the sprint planning.

You share refinement of the product backlog.

Our goal is to work together, communicate, and have a shared learning. If we try scale scrum without doing that, we end up working slowly, in silos, and end up in completely different continents from one another.

And that isn’t what Scrum was designed to do.

And that’s why LeSS in particular is here to help us when we try and scale.

If you’re interested in more LeSS insights and advice, visit https://www.sheev.co.uk. Please visit our Certified LeSS Practitioner course page for more insights into some great LeSS certified training.