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HomeSoftware EngineeringRight here’s How you can Scale Up Effectivity in Scaled-Up Agile

Right here’s How you can Scale Up Effectivity in Scaled-Up Agile


As we speak’s weblog put up is from Ken Rubin, creator of the Amazon finest vendor, Important Scrum. Right here Ken affords us seven methods for lowering or eliminating the influence of dependencies on giant agile tasks.

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


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 realize that to achieve success at scale it’s essential to construction for the regular motion of labor throughout the varied collaborating entities. In different phrases, that you must obtain good move by avoiding idle or blocked work. On this regard, dependencies are the primary killer of an organization’s capability to construction for move when performing agile at scale.

Structural and Instantiated Dependencies

A dependency is a relationship between two or extra actions or sources that requires a stage of coordination to realize desired move. Often organizations have structured themselves in a approach that cross-entity dependencies are woven into the material of the group. I check with some of these dependencies as structural dependencies.

Let’s say UX designs are all the time finished by the UX crew and any time my crew wants a design we should go to the UX crew. On this state of affairs, my crew has a structural dependency on the UX crew.

If my crew makes 50 separate requests of the UX crew for various designs (“We’d like 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 courses and instantiated dependencies as cases of these courses. So, the particular request to have the UX crew design the brand new sign-up display is an occasion of the structural dependency that exists between my crew and the UX crew.

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

Structural Dependencies Kill Circulation

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

In organizations which have finished the modeling, we regularly affirm move effectivity to be 10% or much less. Which means 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 move 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% general enchancment in move effectivity. On a 15-week effort, a 13.5% enchancment in move effectivity would scale back move time by simply over two weeks and we might have the work merchandise accomplished at 13 weeks as a substitute of 15 weeks.

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

Bear in mind, every structural dependency we remove 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 will be unable to remove all structural dependencies, so simply set your sights on minimizing them.

Structural Dependency Enchancment Framework

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

Structural Dependency Improvement Framework

These methods may 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. Bear in mind the sooner instance once we moved UX abilities onto my crew? That’s an instance of this technique, which is by far the commonest of the seven methods. In reality, some folks would declare that if a company simply created all function groups, then there wouldn’t be a dependency downside.

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

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

    An encapsulated, cross-organizational set of aligned sources 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 sources 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 crew can full its work with out having to rely in your crew as a result of your crew supplies the mechanisms for my crew to do the work ourselves.

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

  1. Attempt for Cross-Practical and T-Formed. The attribute of being fully cross-functional (i.e., having all the abilities to get the job finished) is a requirement of each function groups and coordinated ecosystems, and simplifies self-service approaches. T-Shaping the abilities of individuals inside a crew reduces structural dependencies that exist inside that crew, along with making the crew extra resilient when one thing goes unsuitable. 
  2. Set up Communities of Observe (typically known as facilities of excellence, chapters, or guilds). Communities of Observe 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 may be eradicated, we need to scale back the coordination effort of the remaining dependencies)

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

Simplifier Technique

Stability System/Portfolio WIP. Principally, if we keep away from overwhelming the groups with work, we scale back the variety of dependencies they have to take care of at anybody time. We additionally scale back the variety of various kinds of dependencies they have to tackle on the similar time. This technique leverages the methods of Agile Portfolio Administration to steadiness WIP (work in progress) towards the structural capability of the group.

Bringing It All Collectively

If you wish to battle again towards dependencies, you will need to mix the structural dependency framework methods in a approach that matches your group. In most organizations the place we apply it, we use all seven methods to considerably enhance move when doing agile at scale.

If you need to study extra about dependencies and the main points of the structural dependency enchancment framework, take into account attending my class Dependencies Are Killing Your Agility: Study to Combat Again!



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