Scrum and Scaled Work

A lot has been said about scaled Agile development, scenario in which a large number of people work with Agile within the same organization. Aiming to find space within this market, various frameworks and methodologies have emerged in recent years. The best-known are SAFe, by Dean Lefingwell, LeSS, by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde, DAD, by Scott Ambler, Scrum@Scale, by Jeff Sutherland and Nexus, by Ken Schwaber. Note that the last two were created by the fathers of Scrum, and are very different from each other.

But what does the Scrum framework, as described in the official Scrum Guide, offer in relation to this topic? In fact, there are a few prescriptions of basic Scrum for working in scale. Here are a few worth citing:

  • the Scrum standard of a small, highly flexible and adaptable team remains the same, from a few teams up to thousands of people distributed across a network of teams, always small, collaborating and interacting on the development, operation and maintenance of products;
  • teams must be structured and empowered by the organization in order to be capable of organizing and managing their work;
  • every organization must respect the decisions of the Product Owner, to make possible the success of their work;
  • Scrum Masters plan and lead the adoption and promotion of the organization’s effective use of Scrum, teaching the framework and helping collaborators and other interested parties to put it into practice, forming the organizational changes necessary and working together with other Scrum Masters to this same end;
  • in the case of multiple teams working on the same product, only one Product Backlog, common to all these teams, is used as their source of work. In this case, we can differentiate the work of each team, for example by adopting a attribute for the items in the Product Backlog;
  • if there is a definition of “Done” as one of the organization’s conventions, standards or directives, all should follow this as a minimum. If there are multiple teams working on the same product, they should establish a definition of “Done” together.

I believe that any method that aims to scale Scrum should follow the above rules, at the very least. In my opinion, LeSS is the framework best in line with the purposes and principles of Agile, and also with the very definition of Scrum, given that it respects all prescriptions for scaled work mentioned in the Scrum Guide.

I believe it’s important to say that at Knowledge21 we would never use a pre-defined scaling method with our clients (not least because we don’t always use Scrum as a path to Agile). We’re absolutely sure of what we don’t want. But I do notice a growing general alignment within the company with the simplicity and irrefutable logic of LeSS.

SCHWABER, K.; SUTHERLAND, J. The Scrum guide — the definitive guide to Scrum: the rules of the game. Nov. 2017. Available at: Scrum Guide US Visited on: 9th May 2018.

Rafael Sabbagh
Rafael Sabbagh
Rafael Sabbagh is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) and a former member of the Scrum Alliance Board of Directors. He has over two decades of experience with IT.

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