Agile at scale takes more than Agile in teams. This article lists several of the most-important elements of this picture of Lean and therefore Agile at scale.
Common Elements of Agile at Larger Scales
Net Objectives has been assisting large scale clients become Agile for many years, both with programs tailored for their organizations based on the Lean-Agile Framework (LAF), as well as by applying the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to the particulars of the organization. Both approaches are based on a broader understanding of Lean as it applies to software.
Aspects of Lean Needed for Success
This broader view of Lean can be thought of as a combination of Lean-Thinking, Lean-Management, Lean-Culture and Lean-Tools. All four of these are needed to become effective in Agile at scale, and can be summarized as follows:
Lean-Inspired Practices Leading to Success
In working with large organizations transitioning to Agile methods, we have found that success comes from the following:
It is interesting that most practitioners find these self-evident. I suspect that is because they are facing, first hand, the issues involved here. Most consultants, on the other hand, often attempt to take their approaches and see how to apply them to the job at hand. Or, as often as not, apply their approaches regardless of where they are.
Oddly enough, the Scrum approach of force-fitting a particular approach (cross-functional teams working in a time-boxed manner) and the Kanban Method approach of always creating visibility and implementing a kanban system before doing organizational change are both variations of a one-size fits all mentality that only works well when the organization is already fairly-well aligned with their recommendations.
Implementing Agile at mid- and above scale requires more structure and preparation than does Agile at the team level. The deeper thinking required comes from the principles of Lean.
This article listed a set of actions an organization can take to be successful with Agile at scale. It cannot, however, be assumed that the organization is ready for them at the outset of its effort. The transition must begin with where the organization actually is at, and progress towards the more Lean and Agile condition described here.