Jul 04

Don’t start with the vacancy, start with the question

Scaling at the beach

“Hi we want to hire a Agile coach with LeSS or SAFe Certification. He or she will provide our teams with some training.” Well I hate to bring this to you, but this does not work. The first big question you have to ask yourself as a company is “why”. Why do you want to scale. Is it so that work will go faster and teams will work better or the competition is also doing it. Then don’t do it. Is it that you want your time to market to go up and actually start to deliver valued work more easily with everyone involved, than it might be a good idea. But even then don’t focus on the framework but start with the question. The first thing that companies should do is ask a good Agile coach who does understand large scale agile and ask to help with the big question. Sit down with management and identify the challenges, current affairs and mindset. Visualize the challenges and pressure points. Where are possible areas that could benefit from change. And then focus on what would work best. Only then you can start thinking about SAFe or LeSS or any other model.

I wrote an article before about scaling where I said that I’m not a huge fan of scaling scrum models. Not so much that it is not a good idea to scale. I think it is great when a large company want’s to change and involve everyone and everything in the change. But lately I see a lot of Scrum vacancies for Scrum Master or Agile coach who also has to have SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) or LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) certification. I’m not a big fan of SAFe, I think it is too complex and way less Agile than LeSS. But I do believe that at some level it might work if you do it right. I recently became a Certified LeSS practitioner so I know a little bit more now about scaling. And yes, also LeSS only works if you do it right. The reason I don’t like scaling models is that companies who don’t understand anything about it and want to implement some sort of large Agile framework, think and even believe that by just hiring people to train people within the company, the question is answered.

So again, start with the Why and then the What and How. The Why is the reason you want to change, the What is, well what needs to change and the How is they way you probably could do it. I say Probably because there are no certainties. A certified coach is not a guarantee that it will work. A coach is just someone who can ask the right question and trigger response. The change will have to come from every layer within the companie. And it starts at the top. It starts at the top with change and If you don’t want to go all the way then don’t. Stop hiring SAFe, LeSS and Spotify experts and keep doing what you’re doing because when it does not start from within at high level, and you don’t know why you want it. It is not going to happen. Ever.



More about LeSS (Large Scale Scrum)*
More about SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)*

 * the “e” is just added for the fun of it

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