Dipping My Toe in Big Agile

I’ve worked on four agile teams in the past nine years. Three were highly successful, especially the one I was on for the past 5.5 years. One never really made the transition, though we had a successful agile project. One of the successful ones involved a team of about 30 developers, and that’s the largest project I’ve been on up to now.

I could have happily worked with my previous team until I retire, but you know me, I cannot resist new opportunities. So now I’m on a small Scrum team – that is one of 28 Scrum teams at my new company! Yes, this company actually manages to have 28 teams, including some which provide infrastructure such as frameworks and deployment, working together to release a high-quality commercial software product four times a year.

Yeah, back in the day, XP was for little, co-located teams. “You can’t do shrink-wrapped software with XP” was just one of the many axioms I heard.

Now I work in an agile organization with about 140 developers, some (like me) in remote locations, delivering software both for Windows client and for a hosted solution. (I don’t know everything about it yet so sorry to sound vague!) If you had told me this five or ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been sure it could work.

Since my new 5-person team is a self-organizing Scrum team, we picked our own ScrumMaster, which ended up being me. I love being an uncertified ScrumMaster, and plan to delegate a lot, because I’m also committed to remaining a hands-on tester. I attended my first Scrum of Scrums (some attendees called it the “SoS” which I loved) on Friday. Each of the 28 ScrumMasters (some in the room, some on the phone) was called on to say if they had any impediments. This happened to be a release day, so I thought there might be lots of impediments, but most teams didn’t have any. Those that did got help right away. The meeting was over in 10 or 15 minutes.

Granted, not every team is high-performing, and some practices I’m used to are missing altogether. But think about it, a software development organization that large, which only implemented Scrum four years ago, able to coordinate and release critical value frequently, at a sustainable pace. That’s agile in anyone’s book.

Follow this space for my adventures as I enter a whole new world!

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