A different view on scaling agile in your enterprise

I was running a course recently and we were talking about the challenge of scaling “agile.”

Nearly everyone agreed it was really hard and that we needed organisational alignment and support from the top.

But one person disagreed.  He asked me  if I had seen the following TED talk:

Rory Sutherland: Sweat the small stuff

The talk is not meant to be about agile but I found it intriguing. The essential message my student wanted me to consider was this …

If you try to scale agile in your company the challenge will be significant. Therefore you will get a big budget to implement agile properly.

You will then inevitably blow your budget on expensive things while ignoring the little things that are actually what is adding value when people are going agile locally.

If this is true then you are better off with no budget and a mandate to find ways for teams to be agile without support from the top or a robust organization wide framework to align to.

That is clearly stupid. A mandate to change the world with no budget or organisational support is a chance to become a footnote in someone else’s story, not a chance to become a hero in an epic quest that ends in a great victory.

But it has been nagging at me for a while.

Now I am wondering if it is true – would scaling agile be more successful if it had to be done without any budget or any organisation wide change agenda?

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