In latest of my Morning Fewell videos above, I share the latest news from the recent Scrum Gathering in Orlando. At the event there were several conversations about the underlying challenge of scaling organizational agility. It turns out there are two very different problems that people are trying to solve. The bad news is we try to solve each using the same tools and processes (something that I think has been discussed before).
Problem One: Going from Agile to Big
Here we usually dealing with a small startup that has a lot of charisma AND choas. Everyone pitches in to do whatever it takes to get work done. But now we need to grow, to scale the organization AND preserve our magic. We’re going from Awesome to Big.
So of course, we should start with a full implementation of Scrum-of-Scrums, a cadre of ScrumMasters, and project managmenet tools?!? Um…maybe not. Maybe we need to explore what’s unique about this startup’s culture and talk about how we scale those special charataristics. Here, the problem is how to ADD structure and PRESERVE culture.
Problem Two: Going from Big to Agile
Here we are starting an existing large organization that is struggling with delivery, with culture, with relevance. We’re trying to take THAT organization to become a higher-performing, more rewarding, more attractive version of itself. We’re going from Big to Awesome.
So of course, we should start with weeks of top-down culture training and throw out all our management positions and full implementation of Scrum-of-Scrums, a cadre of ScrumMasters, and project managmenet tools?!? Um…maybe not. Maybe we need to define what success looks like, find the small inspiring teams in the organization already achieving those successes, and replicate how they did that. Here, the problem is how to ADD structure and PRESERVE culture.
The Solution: Leadership
The bad news is we try to apply the same textbook salves to these two very different types of wounds. The good news is there is a one-size fits-all leadership: Leadership. Here at the Scrum Gathering, the conversation is moving towards the idea that success is rare, because quality leadership is rare.
The conference opened with the announcement of the new Certified Agile Leadership program by the Scrum Alliance. Here the intent is to build leadership skills into your organization, either as you hire new managers into a startup, or retool them from within a large corporation. The were some other reinforcing elements around this message, such as the opening keynote and sidebar chats.
So the message is clear: The secret to achieving organization agility at any scale, according to thought leaders, is building a leadership competency.
What do you think? Is this relevant? Is it even doable?