Agile at scale – definition

agile at scale
agile at scale

The agile at scale is a very fashionable term and I will do many articles on this subject. But what is agility at scale in fact? This article will enlighten you on this term for those who do not understand it well.

The first goal of agile at scale

The agile at scale often tagged by “Agile@Scale” is simply the implementation of a framework to get several agile teams working together.

agile at scale
agile at scale

It’s not clear for you? Don’t worry, I will explain you that in the detail. Agile at scale is the fact to create an organization that will allow all teams to work together around the same product or several products.

Agile at scale also includes the global transformation of the company which includes human resources, trades, business … and the training of each employees to integrate them into this transformation.

It’s really difficult to transform the company if the entire company doesn’t enter this transformation.


agile at scale
agile at scale

There are several different frameworks that allow to make the agility at scale. These are generally quite different and address different issues.

Some scalable agile frameworks are also related to philosophies that differ between coaches; but if you’re newbies in agile, I advice you to use the best framework at your eyes.

Agile framework reassuring for agile at scale

Nowadays, a lot of companies decide to use a known framework named SAFe; Many french companies are installing it or have already done that (Pôle Emploi, Société Générale, Axa …).

SAFe is very challenged in the world of agility because a lot of agile coach does not consider it like agile. However, companies find it reassuring because it is the scalable agile framework that offers the most complete framework … It is disputed because it’s “TOO” complete (according to many agilists).

However, companies like it because it is easier to sell to the top management ; SAFe give it a real visibility on the customer to follow to go to the success even with hundreds of people in it.

Several teams will work on the same product

The second framework of agile at scale that differentiate is the LeSS; it offers a framework very close to the Scrum. LeSS also offers some additions to the Scrum without disrupting its operation with the extra layer of synchronization teams.

It is swift to implement LeSS and the teams adhere very easily;  I was quite surprised that the implementation was so simple. In the classic version, there is a single Product Owner shared by the teams.

Its framework is interesting but less reassuring for large companies because it’s complicated to see how to make hundreds of people work around it. Moreover, this framework does not explain how you can manage the project portfolio, the implementation strategy…

Another scaled agile framework (specifically scrum at scale) to work on the same product (1 single backlog and 1 single Product Owner) was born from one of the creators of Scrum; it is very little used but offers interesting ideas to know.

Another framework was born to work on the same product (1 single backlog and 1 single Product Owner) ; it created by one of the creators of Scrum. it is very little used but offers interesting ideas to know. It is little used but it offers interesting ideas to know.

As for the Scrum, this framework wants to propose a light frame.

Agile at scale on many products

LeSS Huge is a bigger version of LeSS to work on many products. it offers to work on many products with many Product Owners. However this framework remains evasive on the notions of portfolio contrary to Safe.

A model more and more popular on the organizational aspect

Unlike the previous framework, the Spotify model does not impose Scrum (or Scrumban) teams. This model offers rather an envelope to work teams together.

Contrairement aux précédents framework, le modèle Spotify n’impose pas de Scrum (voire de Scrumban) aux équipes. Ce modèle va plutôt proposer une enveloppe qui saura faire travailler des équipes ensemble.

ArticleAgile at scale with Spotify model

The last little framework of agile at scale

Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of Scrum, has recently proposed the new framework at scale name Scrum@Scale. It’s an evolved Scrum of Scrum (another agile framework at scale).

The goal is to provide a light framework but could be more complex to implement than it appears at first glance. However, compared to SAFe, this framework is really lighter and may seem less reassuring for managers who wants to decide the strategy to implement agile.

An old little framework named SSwS is also quite close to Scrum of Scrum or Scrum@Scale.

If the best framework was the one created by the teams?

A very agile approach that appears more and more in the structures is the concept to let these teams create their own operations. In general, those who become leaders of these approaches learn about the existing framework at scale and will guide those who are less knowledgeable.

However the approach can be scary for the managers; it seems to work in some large structures. We just have to wait a while to ensure the durability of this type of approach where it is the employees who will create their own organizational model.

Conclusion agile at scale

I hope that this notion of agile at scale will be clearer for you. The basic concept is simple but the frameworks to meet this need can quickly become very complex.
If you have any question about agile at scale, feel free to ask us in the comments.
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About Judicaël Paquet 235 Articles
Judicaël Paquet (agile coach and senior devops) My Engagements in France and Switzerland: - Crafting Agile Transformation Strategies - Tailored Agile Training Programs - Raising Awareness and Coaching for Managers - Assessing Agile Maturity and Situational Analysis - Agile Coaching for Teams, Organizations, Product Owners, Scrum Masters, and Agile Coaches Areas of Expertise: Scrum, Kanban, Management 3.0, Scalability, Lean Startup, Agile Methodology.

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