What is Scaling Agile?
Scrum & XP were developed for small team environment where there was freedom to explore and innovate and most of the problems could be managed at team level. However, when we want to scale Agile to Enterprise level, Scrum and XP falls short, as usually teams are distributed, we need a bit of architecture, need more levels of planning, execution, demo, and retrospect, co-ordination across teams, more people (servant leaders) to solve enterprise level impediments, big room planning to accommodate all people across teams, frequent integration across teams, more product management as we need to deal with more requirements and need ‘Systems thinking’ kind for holistic approach.
Scrum shows the greatest promise, but was developed for small team. Hence for enterprise level of Agile, we need different framework, which is known as ‘Scaling framework’.
Popular Scaling Agile Framework
Popularity of ‘Spotify’ Scaling framework is growing day-by-day, and lot of companies are implementing and enquiring about this framework.
How it started
Spotify is a Swedish music, podcast and video streaming company. When Spotify launched their first music play, Spotify were pretty much ‘Scrum’ company, and number of Agile teams were growing and they realized couple of scrum practices like ‘Sprint Planning’, ‘Task break down’, ‘Velocity’, ‘Estimation/Relative Estimation’ and Metrics like ‘Burndown chart’ was coming in their way. So, they decided these practices as ‘optional’. Every Squad can decide if these practices making sense to them.
Spotify framework is evolved from their continuous ‘Inspect and Adapt’. However now, ‘Spotify framework’ is among one of the most sought after ‘Scaling Agile framework’.
Let us deep dive Spotify framework
Each tribe has a ‘Tribe lead’, this is similar to ‘Release Train Engineer (RTE)’ role in SAFe
Chapter is your small family of people having ‘similar skills’ and working within the same general ‘competency area’, (within the ‘same tribe’)
Each chapter meets regularly to discuss their area of expertise and their specific challenges - for example the ‘testing chapter’, the ‘web developer chapter’ or the ‘backend chapter’.
Each guild has a “Guild Coordinator”.
An open space event where all can discuss challenges and solutions within their field.
Definition of Done
Instead of ‘Definition of Done’, they have ‘Definition of Awesome’
Scrum of Scrum
If there are dependencies which require coordination of multiple squads, they had a ‘daily sync’ meeting where they identified and resolved dependencies between the squads, and used a board with sticky notes to keep track of unresolved dependencies.
Optional in Spotify
The Spotify model can help you to understand how things are done at Spotify, but you shouldn’t copy it in your own organization. It changes all the time as people at Spotify learn and discover new things. There is no one way in which software is developed at Spotify.
The way that Spotify develops software was first described by Henrik Kniberg and Anders Ivarsson in Scaling Agile @ Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters & Guilds. I believe Spotify is one of best scaling model in current context, and it’s a great inspiration to start with.
Reference: Spotify engineering culture video from Henrik Kniberg and related docs.