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Conventional, long standing advice regarding transitioning to Scrum or any Agile process has been to start with a pilot project, learn from it and then spread agile throughout the organization. This approach is the frequently used start-small pattern in which an organization selects typically one to three teams, gets them successful and then expands Scrum from there.

Start Small or Go All-In

Reasons to prefer starting Small

  • Starting Small is less expensive
  • Early Success is almost guaranteed
  • Starting Small avoids the big risk of going all in
  • Starting small can be done without re-organizing

Reasons to prefer going All-in

  • Going all in can reduce resistance
  • It avoids problems created by having Scrum and traditional teams work together
  • An all-in transition will be over more quickly

Patterns for Spreading Scrum

Getting started with scrum is one thing; spreading it across the organization is another. Unless you have chosen an all-in transition, you will need to build upon the successes of the first few teams as you move Scrum into other teams. There are three general patterns you can use for spreading Scrum beyond the initial teams.

  1. Split and Seed

The Split and seed pattern is typically put into use after the first couple of teams have adopted scrum and run at least a handful of Sprints. The Split and Seed pattern works in the diagram depicted below.

Reasons to prefer split and seed are

  • You can add teams more quickly than with most other approaches
  • Each team has someone with scrum experience to help guide them
  1. Grow and Split

In this pattern, it involves adding team members until the team is large enough that it can be comfortably split in two as shown in the figure.

Reasons to prefer Grow and Split are

  • You don’t have to destroy any existing teams
  • Team members feel more continuity from sprint to sprint

Internal Coaching

Coaches are given some specific responsibilities such as attend Sprint Planning , Review and Sprint Retrospective Meetings, attend one Daily Scrum each week and be available for two hours each week to provide other assistance to the mentored team as needed.

Reasons to prefer internal coaching are

  • Well-running teams do not need to be split
  • Coaches can be hand-selected for new teams
  • Coaches can be moved from team to team

Choosing an Approach

There are two driving factors

  • How quickly do we need to spread Scrum to additional teams
  • Do we have good internal coaches who can assist the new teams?

In general, consider using split and seed when you are in a hurry. The Split and Seed can be the fastest approach to spread Scrum through the organization.

The grow and split pattern is perhaps the most natural approach as it mirrors what would probably happen if no one intervened to help the spread of Scrum

Consider using grow and split when there is not enough urgency to push you to split and seed approach.

Internal coaching can be used as a spreading strategy on its own or it can be used to augment either of the other approaches. The internal coaching approach works the best when

  • The group is large enough that good practices won’t fully spread on their own
  • When Splitting teams is not practical for your projects
  • When you have enough internal coaches or can bring in outside help

The Enterprise Transition Community

The small group that initiates, encourages and supports an organization effort to introduce and improve at Scrum is known as the Enterprise Transition Community or ETC. The Enterprise Transition Community exists to create a culture and environment where the changes can be released by those who are passionate about the success of the organization and where success leads to more passion from more people. The ETC does this not by imposing changes on the organization but by guiding groups who are implementing changes by removing obstacles to doing Scrum well, and by creating energy and excitement for the change.

The members of the ETC, who usually number no more than a dozen, come from the highest level involved in the transition to Scrum. If a company is adopting Scrum organization-wide, the ETC should include senior people from engineering or development plus vice presidents of groups such as product management, marketing, sales, operations, human resources and so on.

The ETC is responsible for :

  • Articulate the context
  • Stimulate conversation
  • Provide resources
  • Set appropriate aspirations
  • Engage everyone
  • Anticipate and address people issues
  • Anticipate and remove impediments
  • Encourage a simultaneous focus on practices and principles

Reference for Good Reading on this Topic : Mike Cohn’s Book, Succeeding with Agile