The big experiment: combining scaling & distributed with learning about agile concepts

In this workshop, we're going to do a big experiment combining distributed collaboration with a scaled setup, while learning about different agile concepts. We will work in teams to create a presentation about a chosen agile concept, which provides people a deep learning experience about the concept. We're going to see how an enterprise can combine different agile concepts. And we get hands on experience working with many teams (scaled), seperated by 2 geographical locations.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop


In the simulation, we're working for the enterprise 'Stuck in Waterfall Pvt. Ltd.' . Top management has requested a presentation on the application of various agile concepts for their company. They want to start a big agile transformation, but they want to be well informed which concepts could fit, how they all fit together and in what priority they should roll out the agile concepts. They've selected one person as the leader of this research/presentation phase. He has authority to engage as many people as he needs to get the information. 

We self-organize teams of 4-6 people. Each team picks an agile concept (lean startup, kanban, design sprint, scrum, etc). 

Our end product is a presentation on how the different agile concepts fit together inside a company. We have an area product owner who's responsible for this end product. Each team has a product owner, responsible for the teams' product: a presentation about the agile concept the team chose.

The area product owner is in the company's HQ. 50% of the teams are in the same office. The other 50% is remote, in another office. We'll simulate this using a partition in the room or using 2 rooms. Hopefully, the infrastructure of our company is solid, so we can use some video conferencing (on 2 laptops or bigger setup). But it might break (as in reality) and then we'll use 4G to connect through Skype (or worst case: phone). 

We have 4 observers. 2 in each office. They will keep track of the issues and challenges they see during the experiment. They collect their observations with stickies on a learning wall and focus on

  • what challenges arise because of the distribution
  • how does the scaled setup affect the work
  • where does the application of scrum in this project help / block the collaboration
  • anything the teams can learn from

Each team will collect learnings during their retrospectives.

The product

The teams then go through 3 sprints:

Sprint 0 (30 minutes): setting up

  • Self organized team formation
  • Selection of scrum master & product owner (+ additional roles?)
  • Discussion between product owners and area product owner about communication between the remote offices

Sprint 1 (20 minutes): product design and plan

  • project charting: each team makes a plan of how they'll create a presentation on their concept
  • teams are free to chose any method of presentation: drawing, powerpoint, role play, sketching, dancing, etc

Sprint 2 (60 minutes): research

  • the product owners have a meeting with the area product owner to form the overall product plan (timeboxed to 15 minutes)
  • the teams start research and discussions on their concept
  • collect case studies
  • find information about the specific concept (visuals, theory, models, etc)
  • exchange experiences with the concept

Retro: 10 minutes

Sprint 3 (60 minutes): create the presentation

  • Teams work on their presentation
  • They can continue research and collecting materials needed for their presentation
  • Where required, product owners have communication with their area product owner

Retro: 10 minutes

Demo: 5-8 minutes per team (depending on the size of the total group & number of teams)

Additional guidelines:

  • (Area) Product Owners can join the team in building the presentations
  • Scrum Masters also execute
  • It's not allowed to communicate directly between the 2 remote offices, all communication between offices are through videoconferencing or calls

Overall retrospective

Each team takes 30 minutes to discuss what issues they faced or observed during the simulation. They split the issues up into areas:

  • Distributed challenges
  • Scaling challenges
  • Scrum/team challenges
  • Anything else they faced

In a 30 minute discussion with everyone, the observers share what they saw. Then each team shares the top 2 challenges they found. 

Theme breakout learning session

We form teams around the concepts presented during the simulation. We add 'distributed agile', 'scaling' and 'scrum' to these concepts if they were not selected yet by the teams. Everyone joins the team/concept he wants to learn more about. Minimum 2 people who did the presentation on that concept stay in the team. The teams have a discussion about the concept and people share experiences. We have some subject matter experts in each team (the people who made the presentation + others). 

Closing retrospective

In the full group, we close the workshop by addressing some final burning questions and looking back at the experiment. 


Introduction 30 minutes
Sprint 0   30 minutes
Sprint 1 20 minutes
Sprint 2 + retro 60 minutes
Sprint 3 + retro 60 minutes
Demo 60 minutes
Group retro 60 minutes
Learning breakout 90 minutes
Closing retro 30 minutes
Total 440 minutes



Learning Outcome

  • Get hands on experience working in a scaled agile setup
  • Learn what challenges arise because of distributed collaboration
  • Learn how to work in a scrum team on a mini project
  • You will learn about different concepts within the agile umbrella
  • Get an idea of how all the agile concepts can work 'together' to deliver value

Target Audience

Anyone eager to learn about how different agile concepts fit together. People interested in Scaling. People working in distributed teams. Anyone can benefit here, no matter what your position in the company.

schedule Submitted 6 years ago