Scaled Agile Lean Development In A Nutshell

Scaled Agile Lean Development (ScALeD) helps businesses discover a balanced approach to agile transition and scaling questions. The ScALed approach helps businesses successfully respond to change. Inspired by a combination of lean and agile values, ScALed is practitioner-based and can be completed through various agile frameworks and practices.

Understanding Scaled Agile Lean Development

Many organizations fail to realize that becoming more agile is challenging and risky. This was exemplified by businesses that tried to emulate Toyota Production System (TPS) practices without first understanding the principles and values that powered it. 

Without a fundamental understanding of how to embody or scale agile principles, these attempts inevitably fail as environmental conditions change. Indeed, none of the principles of this approach are new – but many have been reworked and refined to specifically address the challenges associated with scaling.

The five pillars of Scaled Agile Lean Development

ScALeD incorporates 13 principles from lean and agile thinking. The 13 principles are structured such that they occupy five pillars:

Excited customers

Excited customers mean that the business can sustain growth through smart product development.

This means:

  1. Defining the product value proposition and determine how value is created. Product-related goals guide objectives and strategy and value helps every team stay focused.
  2. Producing small, deliverable increments. Each increment must build on the previous increment by adding value, reducing complexity, and minimizing risks.

Happy and productive employees

Happy employees are productive employees. Businesses can create conditions where productivity thrives by:

  1. Establishing independent, cross-functional teams that can communicate with each other freely.
  2. Empowering employees. Scaling agile necessitates that individuals possess the relevant skills. They must also be encouraged to take ownership of their work by making decisions as they see fit.

Global optimization

It’s important to consider the entire value chain before scaling by routinely integrating modules and components. This helps avoid sub-optimization that results from a preoccupation with individual components.

Three principles belong to this pillar:

  1. Creating transparency. Robust decisions can only be made if individuals have the right information in front of them. Relevant information must be exchanged regularly and not be hidden away or hoarded by select individuals.
  2. Direct communication. To assist in the exchange of knowledge, skills, goals, or concerns, it must be communicated in a personal and direct manner. 
  3. Creating flow and rhythm, which facilitate high-performance teams and timely handovers.

Supportive leadership

Managers must be support employees in their quest to deliver value. This can be achieved through:

  1. Setting goals that are free of constraints, rigid structuring, or other hurdles. The employee must also be supported to achieve goals sustainably.
  2. Decentralized control. Most important decisions should be made by those carrying out the work. If multiple teams are involved then their coordination should also be managed without an overbearing hierarchical presence.
  3. Cultivating change and then changing the culture. Scaling agile successfully means that each relevant party understands the reasons for the change in the first place. Management should embody the philosophy of change to increase buy-in from subordinates.

Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement is a fundamental agile practice that is facilitated by frequent inspection and adaptation. 

In other words:

  1. Inspect and then adapt the product. Frequent re-evaluation of the product in terms of whether it is meeting consumer needs is vital in scaling agile.
  2. Inspect and then adapt to the development process. Like the ninth principle, this means that teams manage and take ownership of their internal processes. If a strategy needs to be clarified, then the team comes together to determine the best way forward. This means that they also identify inherent strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly.
  3. Inspect and adapt to the organization. Scaling at the organization level means that the organization itself must also be continually inspected and adapted. Opportunities and challenges should be identified and improvements devised in line with ScALeD principles.

Key takeaways

  • Scaled Agile Lean Development helps businesses scale agile practices at the organizational level.
  • Scaled Agile Lean Development is based on various agile and lean principles. Indeed, ScALeD principles are nothing new but they provide guidance to project teams on how these principles can be embodied and implemented. 
  • Scaled Agile Lean Development organizes thirteen principles into five key pillars: excited customers, happy and productive employees, global optimization, supportive leadership, and continuous improvement.

Read Next: Business AnalysisCompetitor Analysis, Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

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