After 5 large scale transformations and a dozen years of leading enterprise agile at Intuit, Symantec, and Paypal, I have heard my share of reasons why agile at scale won’t work or Scrum Masters (SM) are a bad idea. “We’ve tried it before”, “you just want to downsize us”, “we’re fine the way we are”, “I’d rather use my headcount for an engineer” are all common allergic reactions. It sometimes feels like a swarm of corporate antibodies are swooping in to kill any chance to help. A cure is not always possible but I have found some ways to reduce the itching long enough to give it a chance.

For large scale agile, I bring my proven set of remedies in the form of business-outcome focused tools to gain alignment on what agile is via mindset framing and fun challenges; to create a compelling vision through techniques to move people to a better place that only they can imagine; to develop a customized plan to get there with clear milestones, training/activities/tooling, metrics, and personal & business value; to execute the transformation plan by internally organizing around people, process, and technology; to help accelerate change through established change models & change leadership techniques; to increase the chances of team agile adoption through a coach engagement model emphasizing management involvement; to onboard new highly-resistant team acquisitions to agile through “agile guardrails”; and so on.

For SMs, the role is often relegated to admin scheduling & facilitation that “anyone” can do on a part time rotating basis. To fight this, I have used two “back-of-the-envelope” financial models: one based on dollars and the other on team velocity. Both are rife with big assumptions that admittedly have holes, but they present a compelling argument that directionally-speaking can be hard to stare down. Testimonials, establishing a SM career path, and identifying business pain points that SM’s help alleviate all help to.

While not FDA-approved, these treatments have worked for me. Hopefully, you can rummage around & find something to help what ails you in my little black bag of agile remedies.

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