Three Scaling Agile Maxims

by | Jan 15, 2024

My Three Scaling Agile Maxims

  1. Nail it before you scale it.
  2. Stitch it to flip it.
  3. Fake it, and you won’t make it.

Here’s why?

Nail it before you scale it.

Do you know what good looks like? What will be fit for your organization’s purpose? 

Don’t get impatient and try to boil the ocean. Start from the top. Get aligned on WHY you want to Scale Agile – What are you looking to optimize for?

Then select an area of business and involve them in dialogue so they can shape the journey path ahead. Learn from the various friction points you encounter when willing participants find it difficult to change. Systematically address these issues so you remove the obstacles for the current group and lay the pathway for future groups to have an easier journey. Lay that trail for others to follow.

This is the first Scaling Agile Maxim.

Stitch it to flip it.

Transactional culture emerges in an organization where people mostly coordinate. A person or a group takes ownership of a part of the value creation system and then hands it off to another person or group. In these systems, coordination trouble leads to the “Us” and “Them” blame games. 

Agile is about integrated problem-solving. Concurrent requirements and development trade-offs are negotiated with ongoing bilateral feedback. This requires a relationship of equal partners collaborating on shared challenges. 

The essence of success with Scaling Agile lies in the people’s ability to transform coordination troubles into collaborative problem-solving challenges. And the more these ‘bits’ flip from coordination to collaboration, the more agile your value creation system becomes. Stitch it to flip it.

This is the second Scaling Agile Maxim. It will take many stitches and many months to methodically transform away from hand-off based transactional culture to a collaborative relationship culture. The transformational ‘flip’ is local at first and slowly builds momentum to become a noticeable flip or transformation at scale. This is a generative process and not a prescriptive one. 

Fake it, and you won’t make it.

There are no shortcuts. You cannot simply install a tool or relabel existing structures with agile-sounding words. From your Sr. Management to your knowledge workers, you must realize that the same thinking that got you where you are will not get you where you need to go.

The journey ahead will be humbling, but it is rewarding. Through dialogue, you will have to build relationships to overcome shared challenges. You will have to learn how to do it well once, and then again, and then again, so your organization is practiced at the art of benefiting from the collective intelligence of its people in service.

This is doable and has been done before. It’s only a failure if you are not humble enough to learn and try a different strategy.

This is the third Scaling Agile Maxim. Fake it, and you miss out on a professionally and personally rewarding journey.

Join me for the Certified Agile Skills – Scaling 1 certification course accredited by Scrum Alliance. You will develop your own action plan to start anew or course-correct for effective product development at scale. 


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