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October 16, 2018

The Manifesto for Scaling Agility

3 mins read

At Excella, we believe that continuous learning and knowledge-sharing fuels innovative thinking. The company created space – the time and the opportunity – for our Agilists to document their experiences with Agile at scale. The resulting product is the Manifesto for Scaling Agility: it’s a new way to approach the challenges of scaling, and I’m excited and pleased to announce its initial release.

What is the Manifesto for Scaling Agility?

The Manifesto for Scaling Agility (or Scaling Manifesto) is a collection of values and principles that reflect the collective experience of Excella’s Agile practitioners, and a fresh perspective. There are several different scaling approaches, and the team that worked on the Scaling Manifesto has experience with most of them – SAFe, LeSS, Scrum@Scale, Kanban, Nexus, etc. Through their work, they have learned that these approaches have to be adapted to context to be successful. The Scaling Manifesto contains their recommendations for doing that, regardless of framework or methodology.

The Manifesto for Scaling Agility is an extension of the original Manifesto for Agile Software Development and follows a similar format. However, the other authors and I chose to deliberately highlight the fact that scaling values and principles apply to all forms of knowledge work, not just software. We believe the Scaling Manifesto will be valuable to many types of organizations operating in widely different contexts.

We have found that scaling is most effective when it supports a shared vision and aligns with strategic objectives. These become anchors that guide and foster self-organization and experimentation. We believe organizations must explore alternatives; there are many different ways to apply Agile at scale. The best path forward will vary depending on the context. To be successful, an organization must allow teams a certain level of freedom to investigate their context and to try out different approaches. Clear high-level direction coupled with regular feedback loops – reflecting on the work being done and reflecting on the way the work is being done – are essential to successful scaling. The Scaling Manifesto provides a guide for achieving that success.

Why did we create the Scaling Manifesto?

We created the Manifesto for Scaling Agility for several reasons.

  • We want to move beyond debates about frameworks and place more emphasis on values and principles that have fostered success in real organizations.
  • We feel it is important to document our collective experience and share it with our colleagues across the community of practitioners helping teams and organizations improve their Agile practices.
  • We hope to establish an effective foundation for what scaling Agility actually means.
  • We hope also to trigger more effective conversations about Agility at scale and how an organization can achieve it.

What Happens Next?

We invite you to join the conversation; the Scaling Manifesto will not – and should not – be static. The other authors and I have created an initial release of a living document but as we learn more, our experience with scaling Agility grows, and we hear more from others in the industry, we will update it to reflect our latest knowledge. We invite you to review it, talk to us about it, and ask us questions. We are grateful to Excella for providing us the space and the opportunity to host this dialogue.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to scale your existing Agile efforts or about how to apply Agility at scale in your organization, please reach out to Excella. Our colleagues can walk you through the Scaling Manifesto and give you more details about how Agile can be made to work for you.

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