Agile at Scale synchronization mechanism

Why the need for Agile at Scale synchronization mechanism? Even if the Tribe and related Agile Squads have been designed to enforce autonomy and limit dependencies, there may be a need for synchronization mechanism when several Agile Squads contribute to the same features or to features that are somehow connected.

3 levels of dependency between Agile Squads trigger 3 levels of synchronization mechanism

3 possible synchronization mechanisms: single Agile Squad, just the Agile ceremonies, less than 5 Agile Squads, LeSS dominant, more than 5 Agile Squads or cross Tribe, Agile Train.
  1. The Agile Squad is independent. Clearly, this is the optimal case. Therefore only Agile meetings at the level of the Agile Squad are necessary. And the Scrum Master of the Agile Squad manages the ad-hoc dependencies.
  2. There is a reasonable level of dependency over less than 5 Agile Squads. In addition to Agile meetings of the Agile Squads, there is a need for Agile at Scale meetings. But the current Scrum Masters of the perimeter facilitates them.
  3. There is a high level of dependency, more than 5 Agile Squads involved and/or Agile Squads across Tribes. As a result, there is a need for Agile at Scale meetings. Therefore a dedicated Scrum Master Lead facilitates them.

Meta Sprint and Agile at Scale meetings

Agile at Scale synchronization mechanisms are inspired from Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), Scrum of Scrum and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). For light need of synchronization, Scrum frameworks will be dominant. For heavy need of synchronization, SAFe will be dominant. In any cases, in this return of experience, synchronization mechanisms either light or heavy are always a mix of these frameworks.

The main principles of Agile at Scale synchronization mechanism

Meta Sprint

As there is a sprint at the level of the Agile Squad, there is here a sprint for a group of Agile Squads working together including these Agile Squad sprints. In addition, the duration of this meta sprint is between 10 (5*2) to 12 (3*4) weeks depending if the sprint of the Agile Squads are 2 weeks or 3 weeks. Other duration is possible but it is a good practice for this meta sprint to be less than 3 months and the Agile Squad sprint to be less than 3 weeks.

Note that one prerequisite to implement a meta sprint is that all sprints of the Agile Squads involved have the same start date and duration.

Here is a reminder of the ceremonies of an Agile Squad:

Agile Squad and Scrum ceremonies

Agile at Scale Meetings

The meetings and related agenda are the same like for an Agile Squad.

But at the level of the meta sprint:

Agile at Scale ceremonies: same as Agile Squad and Scrum but at the level of the meta sprint.
  1. Meta Sprint planning: plan what is expected by the business by the end of the meta sprint
    • Build and share the vision (business context, business and technical visions)
    • Identify the features
  2. Meta Sprint refinement: like for the Agile Squad sprint, there is a need to prepare at least mid meta sprint the backlog for the next sprint
  3. Meta demonstration: at least at the end of the meta
    sprint, demonstration is common and integrate all
    the features delivered by the Agile Squads.
  4. Meta retrospective: in addition to improving at the level of each Agile Squad, the purpose here is to improve the way Agile Squads work and interact together.
  5. At last, as we have for the Agile Squads Daily Meetings, there are synchronization meetings between Scrum Masters and Product Owners of all the Agile Squads to support alignment and coordination

What’s next? Learn more about Agile at Scale

Check my other posts about Agile at Scale:

Here are some references about Agile at Scale models including synchronization mechanisms

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