Right here’s Tips on how to Scale Up Effectivity in Scaled-Up Agile

Right here’s Tips on how to Scale Up Effectivity in Scaled-Up Agile

Immediately’s weblog submit is from Ken Rubin, creator of the Amazon finest vendor, Important Scrum. Right here Ken affords us seven methods for decreasing or eliminating the affect of dependencies on giant agile initiatives.

I’ve recognized and labored with Ken for over 20 years and be taught one thing from him each time we work together. I’m certain you’ll discover his ideas fascinating.


Does your group carry out agile at scale, requiring the coordination of a number of collaborating entities to ship worth? If that’s the case, you already know that to achieve success at scale you will need to construction for the regular motion of labor throughout the assorted collaborating entities. In different phrases, it’s essential obtain good movement by avoiding idle or blocked work. On this regard, dependencies are the primary killer of an organization’s capacity to construction for movement when performing agile at scale.

Structural and Instantiated Dependencies

A dependency is a relationship between two or extra actions or assets that requires a degree of coordination to realize desired movement. Continuously organizations have structured themselves in a manner that cross-entity dependencies are woven into the material of the group. I seek advice from most of these dependencies as structural dependencies.

Let’s say UX designs are at all times finished by the UX staff and any time my staff wants a design we should go to the UX staff. On this situation, my staff has a structural dependency on the UX staff.

If my staff makes 50 separate requests of the UX staff for various designs (“We want a design for the brand new sign-up display!”), then every of these particular person requests for a selected design represents an instantiated dependency.

For these with a technical background, consider the structural dependencies as representing object lessons and instantiated dependencies as situations of these lessons. So, the precise request to have the UX staff design the brand new sign-up display is an occasion of the structural dependency that exists between my staff and the UX staff.

Now think about if my staff had UX abilities on it and was now not depending on the UX staff for design work. The consequence could be the elimination of the structural dependency between my staff and the UX staff. Eliminating a structural dependency has an amplifying impact as a result of it additionally eliminates all future instantiated dependencies between my staff and the UX staff. In observe this implies my staff won’t ever have to attend for the UX staff to make us something. The best dependency to handle is the one you don’t have!

Structural Dependencies Kill Circulate

In my expertise, the massive variety of structural dependencies in organizations is the first reason for poor movement. We will use movement metrics resembling movement effectivity (ratio of value-adding time to complete elapsed time) and movement time (how lengthy it takes to finish a piece merchandise) to quantify the affect of dependencies on movement.

In organizations which have finished the modeling, we regularly affirm movement effectivity to be 10% or much less. Meaning idle/blocked time represents 90% of the full time an merchandise is taken into account In Progress! And solely 10% of the full time is value-adding time. Even a modest (say 15%) enchancment in movement effectivity has a big return on funding. Squeeze 15% of the waste out of the 90% idle/blocked time and also you get a 13.5% total enchancment in movement effectivity. On a 15-week effort, a 13.5% enchancment in movement effectivity would cut back movement time by simply over two weeks and we might have the work merchandise accomplished at 13 weeks as an alternative of 15 weeks.

How do you squeeze out the waste and get essentially the most important enchancment in movement at scale? Cut back the variety of structural dependencies within the setting.

Keep in mind, every structural dependency we eradicate means each future manifestation of that dependency (its instantiated dependencies) can be eradicated. You’ll discover I mentioned scale back the variety of structural dependencies. Organizations won’t be able to eradicate all structural dependencies, so simply set your sights on minimizing them.

Structural Dependency Enchancment Framework

In my work with many giant purchasers, I’ve developed and advanced a structural dependency enchancment framework comprised of seven methods.

Structural Dependency Improvement Framework

These methods might be categorized as:

  • Reducers – scale back the variety of structural dependencies
  • Enablers – allow organizations to undertake reducer methods extra simply
  • Coordinator – establishes pre-defined coordination for these structural dependencies that may’t be eradicated
  • Simplifier – makes it simpler to take care of instantiated dependencies for these structural dependencies that may’t be eradicated

Right here’s a fast abstract of the methods on this framework.

Reducer Methods

  1. Create Function Groups. Keep in mind the sooner instance after we moved UX abilities onto my staff? That’s an instance of this technique, which is by far the most typical of the seven methods. Actually, some folks would declare that if a company simply created all characteristic groups, then there wouldn’t be a dependency drawback.

    Creating characteristic groups does considerably scale back the variety of structural dependencies within the setting. Nonetheless, there are impediments like inadequate abilities capability that can virtually definitely stop your group from creating all characteristic groups. It’s best to create characteristic groups wherever sensible, and make use of the opposite reducer methods within the framework.

  2. Arrange into Coordinated Ecosystems. Right here’s how I outline a coordinated ecosystem:

    An encapsulated, cross-organizational set of aligned assets created to ship the outcomes of a sturdy, customer-focused product, worth stream, enterprise functionality, or buyer journey.

    Coordinated ecosystems are an important organizing unit for performing agile at scale. The alignment of assets inside a single ecosystem—guided by a single product proprietor—considerably reduces structural dependencies and simplifies prioritization of every instantiated dependency.

  3. Architect for Self Service. This implies to allow a build-using coordination mannequin. On this mannequin, my staff can full its work with out having to rely in your staff as a result of your staff offers the mechanisms for my staff to do the work ourselves.

Enabler Methods (assist facilitate the adoption of the reducer methods)

  1. Try for Cross-Purposeful and T-Formed. The attribute of being fully cross-functional (i.e., having all the talents to get the job finished) is a requirement of each characteristic groups and coordinated ecosystems, and simplifies self-service approaches. T-Shaping the talents of individuals inside a staff reduces structural dependencies that exist inside that staff, along with making the staff extra resilient when one thing goes incorrect. 
  2. Set up Communities of Follow (generally known as facilities of excellence, chapters, or guilds). Communities of Follow assist overcome organizational resistance to establishing cross-functional groups and coordinated ecosystems by addressing issues surrounding lack of conceptual integrity, reuse, shared learnings, and many others.

Coordinator Technique (since not all structural dependencies might be eradicated, we need to scale back the coordination effort of the remaining dependencies)

Set up Group-to-Group Working Agreements. These agreements pre-define how instantiated dependencies between the groups might be dealt with by addressing matters resembling: consumption course of, decisioning course of, interplay course of, SLA (or cycle-time expectation), and deliverable-related metrics.

Simplifier Technique

Stability System/Portfolio WIP. Mainly, if we keep away from overwhelming the groups with work, we scale back the variety of dependencies they need to take care of at anyone time. We additionally scale back the variety of various kinds of dependencies they need to tackle on the identical time. This technique leverages the strategies of Agile Portfolio Administration to stability WIP (work in progress) towards the structural capability of the group.

Bringing It All Collectively

If you wish to struggle again towards dependencies, it is very important mix the structural dependency framework methods in a manner that matches your group. In most organizations the place we apply it, we use all seven methods to considerably enhance movement when doing agile at scale.

If you need to be taught extra about dependencies and the main points of the structural dependency enchancment framework, think about attending my class Dependencies Are Killing Your Agility: Be taught to Struggle Again!


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