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What Is Scrum At Scale?

Scrum is an Agile project management methodology. In Scrum, the development team, product owner, and Scrum master work in ‘sprints’ to deliver outcomes in short cycles. This allows for rapid development, testing, iterating and is particularly effective for complex projects where changes in scope are expected.

Scrum@Scale leverages the same principles but applied across an organization’s ecosystem of teams. It achieved this by removing as many points of friction between them as possible and delivering “minimum viable bureaucracy” running on “scale-free” architecture.

Scrum values play an important role too as more people are involved in the process requiring more coordination, training, and focus.

The Scrum@Scale frameworkTM was developed by Dr. Jeff Sutherland, one of the co-creators of Scrum, combining principles of Scrum, Complex Adaptive Systems theory, and object-oriented technology paradigms. 

Core concepts and components of Scrum@Scale

To effectively coordinate and scale teams of teams, the methodology embraces three core concepts:

  • Working in smaller teams to reduce the risk of introducing additional complexity 
  • Linear scalability across the entire organization so that output scales consistently in relation to the number of teams involved
  • Applying minimum viable bureaucracy to reduce the time it takes to make a decision and execute

The Scrum@Scale framework comprises two cycles: the Scrum master cycle, addressing the delivery process, and the product owner cycle focusing on ‘what’ is being delivered.

Scalability is achieved via a Scrum of Scrums, a dynamic group of delegates linked to their respective delivery teams and responsible for coordinating releases, and ultimately value to customers.

Getting started with Scrum@Scale

The idea is to start with a prototype — a reference model — that becomes the example to replicate as the ‘Agile Operating System’ scales. A limited number of teams work together to implement Scrum, addressing deficiencies so that an efficient and effective model is adopted by the rest of the organization.

The Scrum of Scrums remains central to the model as it scales and is supported by two leadership groups: an Executive MetaScrum, focusing on the product, and Executive Action Team, tasked to remove impediments and keep the process running speedily.

The Scrum of Scrums master supports this by having a 10,000ft view of the whole project and being accountable for everything that the network of teams delivers, as well as improving effectiveness of the Scrum of Scrums itself.

Further reading

What Is Scrum in Project Management?

blog post

Fundamentals of the Scrum Methodology