Why scale agile?

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August 10, 2016

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I’ve just googled why scale agile. All the higher ranked entries focus on “how” and “what” of scaling agile and are typically trying to sell SAF – highlighting the marketing genius that is Dean Leffingwell.

The highest ranked answer that is relevant is a 3-part blog from “Adventures with Agile” that is erudite but doesn’t really answer the question. For balance, my last public foray into this topic, with the GDS governance team, wasn’t as simple and to the point as it could have been either.

So, let me be as clear and as simple as possible:

Why scale agile? To deliver more (product) faster.  

This is the primary answer, if you can deliver the outcome you are looking for with one team in an acceptable timescale then you don’t need to scale. Even if you can’t deliver the outcome in the timescales, throwing more people at the problem won’t necessarily reduce the time to deliver but will increase cost, probably significantly.

Why scale agile? To transform the organisation.

The secondary answer to the question, to fully transform the organisation’s ways of working, follows on from the first because you won’t be able to transform into a digital/agile/lean organisation without proving that Agile is the only way to achieve their strategic aims, it delivers significant benefits and Agile delivers in their context.

This is the first in a series of blog entries on practical scaling of Digital/Agile initiatives based on the author’s experience of running and coaching large Agile programmes in both the public and private sectors. Take a look at the second:

Scaling Agile: What can I do before adding more people / teams / cost?