An Agile Way to Scale Agile

With an increasing number of large organizations attempting to scale agile, change agents and coaches face some unique challenges. Some of these might be: Where should one start? Which areas should be focused upon for high impact? How to create meaningful change without overly disruptive risks to current business? How to leverage the many agile scaling approaches? How to maintain focus and yet not lose sight of the big picture? How to surface hidden assumptions, so typical at large enterprises? … and so on. This workshop introduces one possible approach that coaches and change agents can use for meaningful conversations in the unique context of their own organization. Inspired by the Scrum at Scale approach by Jeff Sutherland and Alex Brown, the key idea introduced is the notion of a visible enterprise scaling backlog. This backlog is intended to serve as a roadmap and provide transparency for conversations in the organization’s context. It is hoped that it will be one more useful tool coaches and change agents can add to their toolkit.



Outline/Structure of the Workshop


  • Overview of modules in Scrum At Scale framework – 10 min
  • Prioritization of Scrum At Scale modules based on audience feedback. 5 min
  • Instructions for prioritization game/activity and distribution of question cards - 5min 
  • Play the prioritization game  -Table Activity – 25 min
  • De-brief – 10 min 
  • Q&A – 5 min

Learning Outcome

  • What questions to ask at each level of organization?

Questions on agility should not be skewed towards practices or culture or technology. Also, they must be meaningful to the level of organization - team, business unit, enterprise. 
I propose a user story based way of asking questions at each organization level.
e.g. As an Enterprise do we have a role that prioritizes investments so that ROI is maximized? (This is an example of scaling Product Owner to the level of enterprise)   e.g. As BU a do we have a role that facilitates work so that value flow is maximized?(This is an example of scaling Scrum Master to the level of BU)
e.g. As a BU do we have a Planning cadence that matches the cadences of inner and outer levels of the organization so that value is maximized?(This is an example of scaling a practice (in this case Planning) to the level of BU)

  • How to assess readiness and prioritize what needs to be done from a scaling perspective?

The Questions can lead to an assessment of readiness at each level through open conversation. It will also provide insights into what areas to prioritize.

  • How to make mental models visible and avoid hidden assumptions?

Since the questions are structured, the probability of missing some perspectives can be minimized. Also, the conversations lead to exposing mental models that might usually get ignored. 

Target Audience

Change Agents, Coaches, Management

schedule Submitted 5 years ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Tathagat Varma
    By Tathagat Varma  ~  5 years ago
    reply Reply

    Mahadevan - we need a few details for review of the proposal. (1) your presentation / workshop deck that helps us understand the flow of workshop (2) your video from a recent talk that helps us understand the engagement style, and (3) how was your experience in running this workshop?


    • Mahadevan L P
      By Mahadevan L P  ~  5 years ago
      reply Reply

      TV- Thank you for the interest in this proposal. Honestly, this is something of a WIP in my current practice, I do not have a video. Intent of the proposal was to share some ideas and possibilities  with the broader community. 

  • Ravi Kumar
    By Ravi Kumar  ~  5 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Mahadevan,

    Thanks for the proposal. From the proposal I understand that this workshop is based on an inspiration from Scrum at Scale by Jeff Sutherland and Alex Brown. We certainly welcome works based on insipiration and great ideas provided they bring in value and enhances an individuals learning. Here are few things I would like to see in the proposal.


    1. Link to Scrum at Scale that details the modules etc. which are mentioned in the mechanics.

    2. List at least few important points on the Visible Enterprise Backlog 

    3. Elaborate on few specifics on the learning outcomes

    Also, it will be most useful for the review committee to arrive at a decison if you can share some experiences of delivering this workshop and links to any other videos of your past talks/presentations. Going through Good Proposal Attributes ( might help in altering the proposal in case you haven't gone through it already.

    Looking forward to see the revised proposal.







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    For agile team members to take ownership of quality, Pradeepa Narayanaswamy exposes the power of “Pair Testing”, a technique that promotes rapid feedback to produce high quality products. For the scarce testing talents, an effective way to become more cross-functional, one approach is for team members to pair up on various (unit, integration, exploratory and several others) testing efforts that emphasize the shared eye on quality and learning. Pradeepa talks about several options for pairing opportunities between various specialties on an agile team. She also talks about some new opportunities to pair with DevOps, Operations, Sales, Marketing and Support members to name a few.

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    This session includes a fun Pairing activity and a Group discussion.