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  • Agile Teams at Scale: Beyond Scrum of Scrums

    Esther Derby

    www.estherderby.com 612.724.8114 @estherderby

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    One team or a handful of teams may be able to deliver small systems. Large complex systems require teams of teams to deliver significant features.

    How can companies benefit from “the team effect” at scale?

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    Teams share...

    a compelling work goal

    responsibility and accountability

    an approach to work

    teams have...

    complementary skills

    five-seven members

    history

    Teams are one sort of goal-oriented social unit.

    Teams can form the building blocks for larger goal-oriented social units.

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    Teams offer possibilities that functional or component work groups do not.

    flexibility

    learning

    engagement

    responsibility

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    But, when we have many teams, we need coordination.

    What are the goals of our coordinating structures?

    maintaining technical integrity of the system

    coordinating work across teams

    integrating work across teams

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    Mike Cohn

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    Principles: Guide stars for scaling team-based work.

    Practices: Social and technical practices that enable team- based work.

    Pathways: Steps to get from here to there.

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    Principles • Manage dependencies in the backlog as much as possible

    • Aim for long-lived cross-functional teams

    • Go as far down the technology stack as feasible

    • Organize teams around context boundaries rather than component boundaries were ever possible

    • Make cross-context communication explicit

    • Avoid late learning

    • Build in (some) redundancy

    • Central AND local, depending 10

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    Technical Practices Continuous integration (CI) within context

    Integration across contexts at some other interval (keeping in mind “avoid late learning”)

    Mutually agreed upon and developed automated test across context boundaries

    Architectural, UI & coding standards

    Technical reviews

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    Social Practices Scrum of Scrums within context to surface impediments

    Integrating teams (keeping in mind “avoid late learning”)

    Decision boundaries

    Component shepherds or teams

    Tech councils

    Product councils

    Planning

    Central AND Local

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    Scrum of Scrums can work with a small number of teams working within the same context.

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    But a large system may have several contexts. (Think of context as a feature group, for example “Student Financial Aid” in a system to track financial aspects of students registered at a university.)

    Form cross-functional teams within contexts.

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    Make communication across context boundaries explicit. Use integrating teams to agree how to handle the interface and integration between systems. Integrating teams should also agree on and write acceptances tests that confirm integration across boundaries.

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    When several teams touch the code for services or component, add Component Shepherds or Component Shepherd Teams.

    Component Shepherds work to maintain the integrity of components. They review code, coach, mentor, develop standards and provide guidance to teams.

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    Large systems usually need both integrating teams and Component Shepherds.

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    Tech Councils, made up of integrating team members, component shepherds, and test experts attend to the integrity of the whole system.

    Product Councils look after product integrity.

    Define decision boundaries for each sort of group.

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    • Lateral structures handle coordination and integration. People close to the issues have both the knowledge and means to make decisions.

    • Scrum of scrums handles impediments. • Information flows across and through, rather than up and

    down.

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    How do we get there?

    Mid-level planning

    Demand analysis

    Removing technical dependencies

    Smaller chunks

    Pathways

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    It’s not simple

    It’s not easy

    There is no one right way

    There is no prescriptive plan

    You won’t get there in one giant leap

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    It is possible

    You will get there by adapting, iterating, learning

    You will create a more flexible organization

    You will increase the speed and ease of communication

    You will unleash potential

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    Some useful resources from within the software domain:

    Domain Driven Design by Eric Evans

    Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde

    ...and from the field of Organization Development and Design

    Images of Organization by Gareth Morgan

    Designing Team-Based Organizations by