Sunday, February 26, 2012

Large Scale Agile development– Key danger and few tips

Solution The biggest danger to large scale Agile development spanning multiple releases  is complacency, and especially around following Agile practices.
For example: After doing the same daily stand-up for hundreds of times, a few teams get bored. They start skipping the daily stand-ups or try to tune in their own way.  
It becomes Scrum Master’s responsibility to ensure that the team gets back on track by identifying the team issues.  I have always found that talking to the team in a non-hostile way helps in identifying the root cause.
It is very important for Scrum Master not to force the practices but sell the idea through discussions and by empowering the team.
Here is a good article summarizing few key ideas for empowering the team.

Coming back to the point of complacency, how to avoid one ? 

Here are few tips
1. Change the structure or time or the location of say Daily stand-up after few months.  Instead of doing at 9 AM in the morning, you could do it at 3 PM. 

2. Identify and rotate the leaders to run some of the Agile practices.  Rotate the anchors. Give a chance to the back bencher to anchors the practices.  

3. Add or rephrase the questions for the daily stand-ups.

4. In one of the large scale Agile development I was leading, initially teams were using the questions “What is working well and Not working well” as part of Retrospective.
After a few months, I changed the questions to “What is working well and What we should do differently ?”
We started using Ideaboardz  for some time and switched over to “Discussion boards”.

5. Do a retro on these practices to get feedback from the team to assess their energy levels

One cannot avoid complacency in large scale and multi release Agile projects, however, by keeping the eyes and ears open, one could mitigate the risks.
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luke w - onedesk said...

Great comments to keep teams engaged. Routine can breed complacency. The most extreme example I’ve seen to avoid this is a an advertising agency which rips up their logo every six weeks and creates a new one in order to keep staff feeling fresh and motivated. Not a tactic that can be translated directly to every organization, but an interesting idea nonetheless.

Luke Winter
Community Manager

Venkatesh Krishnamurthy said...

Absolutely, routines breed complacency.