Scaling Agile | Remote Scrum of Scrums in 2023
Scaling Agile is easier than you think. How to run a meaningful Scrum of Scrums.
How to scale Agile? How to make sure multiple teams working on the same product, usually in Scrum or Kanban, are in sync and aligned? Which leads to — what is Scrum of Scrums and how to conduct it?
Here I am today to help you understand what Scrum of Scrums with a very meaningful acronym (SoS) is, what is its goal, and how to facilitate it remotely using Miro.
>>>>Today’s episode is sponsored by Miro — my favorite digital wild board — that can help you take the collaboration to the next level! If you want to check my video on running a Retrospective with Miro — go here. <<<<<
What do you want from me?
I remember it was not easy to find answers to those questions two years ago when I was starting as an RTE helping fifteen teams work their way out of a SAFe confusion. I remember I was very nervous because I just started a new job and had to facilitate the Scrum of Scrums. I felt like all eyes were on me. Hard not to make it about oneself.
I didn’t know the product well, I was the only woman among the Agile Coaches/RTEs, I had no idea about the cloud and I got the most technically complex part of the system. The process was based on SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework). And I had to coordinate a productive meeting for fifteen teams and a dozen stakeholders. I remember it was unclear to me what is expected, not many videos to be found on YouTube to help me understand what it means in practice. The theory seemed too theoretical with this many teams and this kind of complexity.
Additionally, after a few of the meetings, people started complaining they were unproductive. With too many people and far too many opinions, it was hard to get to an action point. The meetings also revealed some painful truth — not many people had a clear idea of what is expected and in which direction we are going. Painful but necessary!
What is SoS?
So let’s start with What is SoS and when do we need it?
For that let’s use ChatGPT’s help. I told you that back in the day it was hard to get a meaningful answer, so why not use cutting-edge inventions:
I like this answer. It is deprived of unnecessary theorizing and it just describes where it comes from and what it serves. And it saves us the time on the multiple guides research of what is a SoS.
You probably know already that if you have multiple teams on a product, they tend to depend on each other and they need some coordination. We also need a big picture, because teams tend to focus on their small piece and lose the bigger picture during the process.
Scrum of Scrums (SoS) as explained in the simplest way it is a meeting, held usually on a weekly basis to help the teams that work on the same product coordinate the development and ultimately the releases.
Just do it
Btw, you don’t need to do Scrum to do Sos, you can do Kanban and find a use for this meeting. You can do SAFe, LeSS, Nexus or whatever and there will be a variation of this meeting. Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is how you enable the collaboration of multiple teams. Or better yet, how the teams make sure they are in sync. The facilitator shouldn’t be the key person here however in many cases they become one.
Three steps to a meaningful SoS
Let’s see how to do it in practice:
- The ice-breaker — If it is your first meeting, spend some time on the ice-breaker for people to get to know each other.
2. How-to — explain what the meeting is about and how to use Miro for it.
3. Lean coffee for the Scrum of Scrums — a collaborative agenda is the key to enable collaboration between the teams and decreasing the dependence on the facilitator. Give the voice to everyone, start with a quick round of last week's achievements and important plans for this week (only relevant to others), and then have an open agenda for resolving blockers, dependencies, etc.
I hope this information will help you to run the Scrum of Scrums. In the end, scaling Agile is about alignment. It doesn't matter what framework you use, what matters is to communicate well, collaborate and enable the teams to work together.