Scrum at Scale - dummies

By Mark C. Layton, David Morrow

This model facilitates alignment through roles with Scrum at Scale. The Scrum at Scale approach for scrum teams working together is a form of the scrum of scrums model for scrum masters and product owners, coordinating communication, impediment removal, priorities, requirement refinement, and planning. Using a scrum of scrums model for the scrum master and product owner enables daily synchronization among teams across programs.

Scaling the scrum master

Following the vertical slicing model of scrum of scrums, Scrum at Scale groups five scrum masters into a scrum master scrum of scrums. It mirrors the daily scrum for scrum teams to surface and remove impediments. With Scrum at Scale, narrowing the scope of a scrum of scrums to five scrum masters from each of five scrum teams limits the complexities for effective cross-team communication. A scrum master scrum of scrums coordinates release activities as the release team.

When a project has more than 25 teams, an executive action team (EAT) supports a third-level scrum of scrums of scrums to remove the organizational impediments that the scrum of scrums groups can’t remove themselves. The EAT is the scrum of scrums for the entire agile organization.

Scaling the product owner

The product owners organize in a similar and aligned way through meta scrums. A first-level meta scrum brings five product owners together for meta scrum meetings to refine and plan priorities. Each meta scrum has a chief product owner (CPO) who oversees the bigger picture of the vision and product backlog and facilitates the coordination among product owners (POs) in the meta scrum.

At the second- and third-level meta scrums, the grouping aligns with that of the scrum master scrum of scrums of scrums. An executive meta scrum (EMS) supports the meta scrums by owning and communicating the organizationwide vision, taking in technical priority feedback from the meta scrums and providing priority decisions for the program.

A meta scrum should be a synchronization meeting that includes stakeholders. All stakeholders at the CPO level should be present to ensure alignment across the organization and support of the CPO’s product backlog prioritization during every sprint.

Synchronizing in one hour a day

In an hour or less per day, an organization can align priorities for the day and accomplish effective coordination of impediment removal. At 8:00 a.m., each scrum team holds its daily scrum. At 8:45 a.m., the scrum masters hold their scrum of scrums, and the product owners hold their level-one meta scrum meetings. At 9:00 a.m., scrum masters meet in scrum of scrums of scrums, and the product owners meet in level-two meta scrums. Finally, at 9:15 a.m., the scrum master scrum of scrums of scrums meets with the EAT, and the product owner meta scrum representatives meets with the EMS.

Visit Scrum@Scale for a complete understanding and walk-through.

The beauty of scrum is that it is designed to be flexible and to scale. Scrum at Scale is the simple way to maintain the autonomy of each scrum team within a wider program context, but it’s just one of many scaling models available.