How To Grow Scrum at Your Company without a Heavy Framework

Now that your company’s mastered the Scrum framework at a team level, it may be time to expand it to multiple teams or areas of your organization. While you may be thinking you need to learn a scaling framework such as SAFe, Scrum@Scale, or LeSS; there are many things you can do to expand Scrum with the one thing you already know—Scrum!

Form a Transformation Team

When you’re ready to go from a couple of teams to many, it’s important to form a team that is committed to change. This team should be made up of volunteers that represent all areas of the company that will be impacted by the change, and should be made up of people from all levels, including entry-level team managers to executives.

This team should be run just like any other Scrum team—a group of self-organizing team members that are united by a shared purpose and who all have a say in how the team operates. Even if there is an organizational hierarchy involved, and there will be when you include executives, it's important to set the stage so that everyone has a voice.

Establish a Working Agreement

Start your first meeting by collaborating on a team working agreement to discuss how you’ll form as a team. Some common things to bring up are:

  • How often will you meet?
  • How will you communicate to each other?
  • What roles will people play on the team?
  • How will the team deal with people who don’t contribute?
  • How will the team make decisions?

Use Scrum Roles

It’s also a good idea to establish a team Scrum Master and Product Owner. These people can have any ‘real’ job at the company, but find people who are passionate about the transformation.

The transformation team Scrum Master will make sure that the group meets regularly, collaborates with each other and removes any obstacles that get in the way of the transformation team’s success.

The product owner will work with the team to set the vision for the transformation, prioritize and manage the backlog and make trade-off decisions on what work needs to be done and what work won’t be done.

Set the Transformation Vision

It’s important for everyone on the team to have a shared vision of what a successful agile transformation at your company looks like, as that ideal could be really different from one organization to another.

To ensure buy-in, brainstorm the vision as a team activity during a meeting. There are many fun and creative ways to do this that you can find online, but here’s one way called the Employer Review.

Everyone on the team pretends they are the customer of a very happy employee and writes a review like one would see on a website like Glassdoor. This is a review of what it’s like to work at that company after a successful agile transformation.

Some examples are:

“I love that I have the freedom and flexibility to innovate new ideas.”

“My team really trusts each other and helps one another to get the job done.”

“Our customers love the work we do and are so thrilled that the features we’ve built exceeded their expectations.”

After individually having everyone write ideas, group them by categories such as ‘Teamwork’ and ‘Customer Satisfaction’ and talk through them. Then discuss which categories are most important to your organization.

Once the group has collectively ideated on the vision, the product owner should take that information and write a vision statement. At the next meeting, it gets presented to the team. This vision statement needs to be visible and at the core of every decision that the transformation team makes.

An example vision statement may be:

“Everyone in town wants to work at our company because we have a culture of continuous innovation, leaders that support personal and professional growth and customers that are delighted by our ability to deliver products and services that delight them.”

Create a Transformation Backlog

Once the vision is established, it’s time to create a backlog for your agile transformation just like you would with any other product. In the next working session, you can hold a story writing workshop, which will establish the initial backlog.

Display the vision statement for everyone to see and ask them to write as many ‘stories’ as they can think of in a given time box, such as 15 minutes. These are all of the things that have to happen at your company to meet your vision. If the group is familiar with writing user stories, they can write them in that format:

(As a [who] I want [what] so that [why])

Otherwise, simply have them write down ideas. Discuss some of the ideas and get the group’s feedback on which ones are the highest priority.

After the meeting, the product owner can take all of the stories and people’s input and put the ideas into the transformation backlog. You can use any agile tool that your teams use, or a simple free one such as works well too.

By following these steps towards agility, you’re not only using Scrum to get there, you’re teaching people who may not be members of the Scrum team how the team works, what goes into collaboration and how you can make positive changes without a lot of bureaucracy.

Lance Dacy is a Certified Scrum Trainer who’s passionate about applying Scrum beyond technology to all areas of business and life. If you’d like to become a Certified ScrumMaster®, check out the upcoming class schedule.