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Enterprise Scrum as a Language of Choices

The purpose of Enterprise Scrum is to give organisations the ability to become more resilient in the modern business climate with rapidly occurring disruption in products, markets and audiences. Only with true Business Agility will today’s companies survive to see tomorrow.

The focus of Enterprise Scrum is to give a company, or any part of it Business Agility.
Enterprise Scrum Definition

What choices are available in Enterprise Scrum?

A  strength of Enterprise Scrum is the option to make choices that you make throughout the configuration of an instance. Unlike many frameworks, we can configure Enterprise Scrum across multiple dimensions including team structure, approaches to collaboration and hierarchies.

Taking hierarchy as an example, we have at least three choices:

  1. Centralisation – teams work for a parent group/individual, with feedback as to what is achievable. Ultimately the team is working to achieve a single Product Owner’s goal.
  2. Collaboration – every team contributes to its own self-organised goals, with no, or minimal guidance from a parent group. Scrum Teams resolve conflicts and dependencies collaboratively, taking ownership for communicating, co-adapting and flocking with other teams.
  3. Subsumption – teams work towards the success of a parent group’s goals. As the teams discover new information, they will send information that impacts the direction of the parent group.

As a general rule, we see collaboration hierarchies in well functioning Scrum organisations, with teams primarily operating autonomously. This type of authority is critical in modern business. As new information can come from any area, the group needs to adapt swiftly and effectively to the new data.

However, particularly in institutions just starting with adopting Agile, we see a predominance of centralised hierarchy. Single managers are making decisions and then directing the team in how best to achieve the goal. Whether we as Agilists think this is right or wrong behaviour it is a simple fact in today’s business world. Enterprise Scrum acknowledges it as such.

How can these choices help us?

The benefit of this acknowledgement, and in making it visible as part of the instance’s configuration, is that we open up discussions about the suitability of a centralised hierarchy. Can the teams adopt a more collaborative approach? Would there be value in implementing a subsumption hierarchy whereby there are bi-directional communication pathways and revision of direction?

This level of optionality is due to the nature of Enterprise Scrum itself: a meta-description of traditional Scrum that generalises many of the core components. Still, the essential shape of Enterprise Scrum practice stays true to Scrum’s ethos as described in the Scrum Guide. The generalisation means we can begin to include new, and novel, strategic and management practices into an Enterprise Scrum organisation. The parameterisation inherent in Enterprise Scrum means that you can express your current and possible future states for the company. More importantly, you can make this information visible, and the make active decisions to change the configuration.

Putting it the choices into practice

Ability to describe an organisational state with a selection of possible alternatives means we no longer have to make large impact decisions. Rather, we can change an individual aspect of the system – based on a valid hypothesis – and see the systemic response. Through such an evolutionary process, we can transform an organisation towards a target state, or goal. If a manager is uncertain about truly self-organising teams, then we can take small steps. At first reconfiguring part of the organisation’s hierarchy to a more collaborative way of working. Test whether the manager’s concerns are grounded in their context. Then, if the experiment works, we can then slowly reconfigure other parts of the organisation’s Enterprise Scrum instance. Continuing to test whether a collaborative model is still appropriate in each new area of the system.

To find out more about Enterprise Scrum and how to implement this in your organisation consider attending the Certified Business Agility Coach (CBAC) course. If you would like to talk to an experienced coach about supporting your implementation, then contact us.