As you know that, When running in an Agile way, a Scrum Team should have 10 or fewer people for better communication. What happens if a large team working together on the same goal? In that case, how can we organize the teams in an agile manner? That is a challenge when we scale agile for either large teams or an organization.
Normally, we can call the large team similar to a tribe. In the tribe, we establish multiple self-organized teams called squads. So that a tribe is a group of squads working on the same goal (goal of the large team). The tribe needs to ensure collaboration between squads and be managed by the tribe lead.
A squad similar to a scrum team has its own goal and be managed by a Product Owner. Each squad should do their work independently without blocking other teams. But due to squads are implementing the same goal at a tribe level so that dependencies normally happen. We can resolve the dependencies among squads by agile cadences that I will mention later in this post.
A chapter is an expertise center that allocates members to squads to make sure that the team is cross-functional to accomplish their goal. All people that have the same skillset and competencies will work together within a chapter and be managed by the chapter lead.
With the structure above, how do we run Agile for the teams? Along with Squads and Chapters, we could establish a tribe council with members are the tribe lead, squad’s PO, chapter leads, and relevant leaders from other divisions from your organization. The council is similar to a scrum team with the tribe lead acting as the PO. We need the council so that we can connect multiple teams who need to work together to deliver complex solutions. This model is called a scaled agile technical similar to SoS (Scrum of Scrum).
With that structure and model, how do we set cadences for those teams to run in an Agile way? To do this, we might have 2 layers of cadence, one for the Tribe level and another for the Squad level.
At the tribe level, we will have an Iteration cycle (4 weeks). In this cadence, the council will have a tribe planning session at beginning of the iteration to set an iteration goal for the whole tribe. This goal will be realized by each squad and be committed by the squad’s POs. After tribe planning, each squad will do their sprint planning session to set the sprint goal for their team and what needs to be done to contribute to the Iteration goal. At the squad level, the team will run with Scrum ceremonies that include Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Backlog Refinement, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. While implementing daily work, the squad might get issues that depend on other teams so that we need a way to resolve interdependency between squads. That is the SoS session at the tribe level. This session will be held twice a week, and normally running in the haft of an hour. In this session, we focus on identifying the problems and find out the actions to resolve those issues. We might need to have an extra session for further discussion of a complex problem. In the middle of an iteration, before squads start a new sprint, we will have a tribe refinement session. The purpose of tribe refinement is to review the progress of the team after haft of iteration, review again the goal from the beginning of the iteration and adjust if needed base on what we have done in the last 2 weeks, and prepare the goal for next iteration. At the end of an iteration, we will have a review and showcase session. The purpose of this session is to promote team delivery spirit. In this session, we will review the team’s results against the iteration goal and let the squads showing how their work and what they achieved.
With that model and cadence, what is backlog item needs to be involved in the tribe level and squad level? The answer is at the tribe level, the tribe council will talk about Epic, Feature, and plan for releases, while at the squad level, the team will talk about Story, Task and plan for a short cycle Sprint. You can see my previous post for more detail about Agile Planning and Backlog Structure