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Agile Adoption and Scaling Patterns

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: Agile Adoption and Scaling Patterns

Over the past few months of writing Leading Agile… doing the Cutter Paper… and now preparing to write this book… we’ve talked a lot about different agile adoption and scaling patterns in the enterprise. Specifically here we’ve talked about team based agile, first order agile scaling, and second order agile scaling.

As Dennis and I have noodled around on this… talked to clients… implemented and consulted… and tried to build out this framework… I think we’ve landed on a five phase roadmap that can be talked about with some degree of clarity. We’ll go into detail on these over the next few weeks… but for now… I want to just put the model out there and see what you guys think:

Team Based Agile is what we mostly talk about when we talk about agile. We have Product Owners and Customers… we have ScrumMasters and Teams. We are 6-8 people… maybe all in the same room.. maybe not. We focus on solid engineering practices… collaboration… teamwork.

Horizontal Scaling is the next step. As the name implies… horizontal scaling is taking the team based model and replicating it in different parts of the organization. We see this quite a bit… pockets of agility across the enterprise… but no one is really working together in a coordinated way. Pretty much the same as team based… just more of it.

First Order Agile Scaling is basically Agile Project Management. It is the first time we start talking about how to get multiple teams working together to deliver an integrated product or project deliverable. This is where we first start thinking about the various Scrum of Scrum patterns we talked about a few posts ago.

Second Order Agile Scaling takes a collection of teams from the single project space into agile portfolio management. How are we going to break up projects and throttle them through the teams? This is where we really start to focus on lean and TOC and have to focus on enterprise priorities and investment decisions.

Third Order Agile Scaling is an area we haven’t talked much about yet. This is where we take agile outside the product delivery organization. Getting projects out the door isn’t our problem anymore… it’s not our constraint. We need to start focusing on the integrating the value stream across the entire enterprise.

At each level of adoption and scaling… we plan to introduce a new set of organizational capabilities… and new set of desired outcomes… a new set of WHATs. At each level… we’ll explore the agile practices… the HOWs… that can help enable those desired outcomes.
Think about this for me a bit and let me know what you think.
Next Adopting Agile... the Video Podcast

Comments (2)

  1. Kevin E. Schlabach

    I like this structure… just make sure people don't start confusing this with (or falsely smelling) the APMM that IBM is pushing. The whole 5 level thing is a structure that invokes the maturity model smell.

    I'm just throwing that out there so you have a head's up that some people might react funny, and why. The fact that you call it "order scaling" is new terminology and might be enough.


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