Agile for large and distributed teams: conversations with Al Shalloway, Mike DeAngelo and the Wikispeed team

Three great conversations about Agile and Scrum in recent days, with Al Shalloway of the Lean Software and Systems Consortium in Seattle; Mike DeAngelo, Deputy CIO of the State of Washington; and Clay Osterman and Joe Justice from Team WIKISPEED in Lynnwood.  Common threads in these conversations:

Agile purists might well recoil at the prospect of Scrum teams that can’t be fed with a single large pizza (the traditional rule-of-thumb for the optimal team size, still followed at companies like Amazon) or having to deal with people in multiple locations that can’t have face-to-face contact., but these are real-world problems for many organizations, and simply saying “No”, because the idea of very large or distributed teams offends one’s theology about Agile, isn’t a useful stance to take.

Increasingly, large organizations are distributed across cities, timezones, and even continents, and complex systems require large delivery teams.  A pragmatic approach is necessary, not a purist one: we need to consider how we can adapt the basic principles of Scrum to meet the real-world needs of large organizations.  Here are some lessons learned over the years in how to adapt Scrum for large or distributed teams:

What do you think? Let us know your best practices!

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