Is there anything more exciting than an ambitious project? There is just something about working with visionaries that can really invigorate your purpose on the job, or maybe even your life if you feel it’s a worthwhile cause. It takes a special mind to snub barriers and boundaries as not just a permanent roadblock that will keep them from their goals, but a feat that can, and must be, overcome to make their dreams a reality.

Many of the inventions we have today would not be possible without those that sought to make a change in some way, somehow.

But, unfortunately, we know how big projects can go. With those large visions usually comes an energy for urgency, and a pressure to move forward quickly, since this was needed “yesterday”.

That pressure can cause a lot of short sighted decisions, and as they say, “haste makes waste”. However, there are many successful examples of companies scaling large projects appropriately, and being agile (no pun intended), is the way to do it.

Here are our 5 Things to Keep in Mind when Descaling Scrum:

Start with Leadership.

The number one thing you have to do before beginning to scale down is get your leadership on board. Reference use cases of successful – and large multi-million dollar corporations – that have done this to influence change for their customers or solved a major problem internally.

Showing that this has been successful with businesses bigger than your own, can help them see that change for millions of users can be done, and done well. Failing to have a champion at the top can make you seem rebellious, or like dead weight for everyone to drag as they’re “moving forward”. 

Do your research and really sell the idea that descaling can be much more efficient and there are tools to help.

  • Understand your Problem.  One of the biggest issues in making changes, is that all too often the focus is on the wrong thing. Unrealistic timelines and micromanagement can kill progress in its tracks, leaving everyone involved demoralized and run down. If this change affects a large number of users, focus on how one person might be affected and aim to make it a successful transaction.
    • Once you really understand the problem, and can execute a solution, then start to focus on multiple people.  Boil it down to its simplest form and shoot for that before worrying about the larger picture.
  • Less is More.  Many companies think that in order to solve a large problem, you need a major force of people to focus on that problem. Well that’s just rubbish! We’re here to tell you that’s not usually the case. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “too many cooks in the kitchen”? The last thing you need is a pile of experts getting in the way of each other. You need to be nimble and quick while planning, testing and executing your progress, and a lot of red tape can stand in your way, slowing progress and frustrating your workers. 
    • Still give your teams resources and support, but then get out of their way. Let them do what you’ve hired them to do and allow them to fluidly work together.
  • Be Bold. When it comes to going in the opposite direction of how people insist you need to handle this project, such as their opinion that bigger is better, you must be willing to go bold. Really envision what small steps can do, and bank on that.
    • Be willing to proclaim the benefits, and stand firm when you are pushed about progress. Prove to naysayers that the way you’re doing this can work, will work, and is working, and show evidence of tasks being checked off the list by satisfied team members.
    • Don’t allow pressure to stray you off course.
  • Be Flexible. Any good project manager must remain flexible when guiding the project. You can’t be so married to your vision that you ignore feedback and signs from your teams that you may need to tweak your plans.  Maybe the tasks need to be broken down more to ensure the flow of testing runs more smoothly, or maybe you are having too many meetings for them to feel like they can get any work done. 
    • Really work as a team, and trust your group to help guide you to the finish line. See what progress is telling you and be willing to make adjustments for the better. This may mean trying things a little differently than you’d hoped, but understand it’s all a part of the process.

Remember, keeping your customer and end-user in mind is your priority when it comes to descaling scrum. Keep your questions practical and concise, and stay the course with small steps. Control what you can, and stay true to the vision of the product. It’s all just one step at a time.

Categories: Agile HR


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