Scrum is an excellent framework to run software projects. It is simple, structured and non-ambiguous to use. But some organizations, especially new adaptors, struggle with localized improvements without far-reaching benefits. Is yours one of them? Then read on.
Goal of Scrum
As described very clearly in the scrum guide, the goal of scrum framework is to solve complex problems in an adaptive fashion. Transparency, inspection, and adaptation are the principles used to solve these problems.
Complex problems are those that don’t have clear causation. If-you-do-this-then-that-happens cannot be certainly laid out. Using experimentation, scrum offers an excellent mechanism to handle these problems.
Just solving problems is sufficient for an organization? No!
Every organization has tons of problems to solve. But does solving them get the organization from where they are to where they want to be? Not really!
Strategy drives an organization towards its long term goals. Solving problems are mere stepping stones. Knowing what problems to solve, finding efficient ways to solve them and having a constant eye towards the future are a leader’s essential responsibilities in such orgs.
Unfortunately, scrum by itself doesn’t help in strategy alignment. But it has good principles that can be extended and used at a macro-level.
Program and Portfolio Framework for Agile Initiatives
Off late, there are several frameworks emerging to address the need for large scale agile. SAFe, Nexus Scrum, LeSS are some examples from the industry.
But before adapting any of those, you must understand the needs of your organization.
Many organizations using traditional methods have well-defined program management structure. Rather than throwing them away as part of agile transformation, tailoring them to be agile is more prudent.
Here is a typical agile project, program and portfolio structure that works for any organization.
- Agile Projects – This refers to local agile implementations. A project with a clear start and end, using agile methods like scrum, falls under this category
- Agile Program– A group of agile projects aimed at a shared objective make an agile program. For example, digital transformation of legacy organisation is a program that can be achieved using multiple agile projects
- Agile Portfolio – A set of programs that directly aligns with organisational vision form a portfolio. Becoming a leader in terms of market share can be the vision and multiple programs can help take the organisation there
Few pointers to keep in mind…
- Agile programs and portfolio governance require active participation from all stakeholders. Ignoring some of them often results in failure of agile transformation efforts
- At an agile project level, teams are given flexibility to choose their way of working. No hard rules are imposed, as long as the outcomes are aligned with the program goals
- Regular review of agile program objectives, outcomes and course corrections are essential to succeed with agile transformation
- Scrum is an excellent framework to run agile projects that deal with complex problems
- But to achieve the goal of agile transformation, organisations must think bigger
- Using an agile project, program and portfolio framework increases the odds of succeeding with agile transformation
- All stakeholder participation is essential and non-negotiable
What are your thoughts on macro-agile transformation in your organization? Do share them as comments!