There are several well-known methods of scaled Agile for multi-team, multi-iteration programs. Why FuSS™ with them? Because Full Stack Scrum™ was invented to address problems with popular methods. Specifically:
- Full Stack Scrum is free, licensed the same way open-source software is. All of the background information, specific steps, and forms you need to implement it with a single team; multi-team programs; or an entire enterprise are on this Web site.
- Self-serving consultants and organizations have misled employers into hiring more people and spending more training money than necessary to implement scaled Agile. With FuSS you don’t hire Scrum Masters, release facilitators, or Agile project managers, or waste productive time by making people sit through days of training.
- The majority of scaled Agile methods are software-centric and/or assume the ability to deliver output to customers each sprint; the “full stack” in Full Stack Scrum means the system will work for any type of project facing significant unknowns.
- “Agile” methods are not just different ways of managing work: They are a revolutionary yet realistic way to think about work. Some scaled Agile systems subvert the Agile Revolution by telling executives what they want to hear or pushing fictions to make money.
- For example, Full Stack Scrum rejects the “Waterfall Myth” that human beings can predict the future, especially in research and development (R&D) projects with high levels of “unknowns”:
- In its Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), the Project Management Institute states firmly that changes to a project plan will result from execution of the project.
- Every waterfall project manager is taught how to “rebaseline” a plan, providing new date, scope, and/or budget expectations as new information arrives.
- Executives have misunderstood the “Iron” in the “Iron Triangle” to mean the shape of the triangle remains as-is when the project manager does their job well. In any triangle, changing the length of one leg changes the shape of the triangle. The area changes as well, unless you lengthen one of the other legs.
- The Agile Manifesto shifted the focus of project management from predicting the future to state in its First Principle, “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer…”
- The creators of the Agile Manifesto got a couple of things wrong about human psychology, and did not cover everything a team needs to succeed, according to a review of more than 600 studies and other sources on small group dynamics. So Full Stack Scrum modifies or adds some practices based on that research.
Evidence from scientific research, business failures, politics, military history and sports has proven over and over that a disciplined, systematic approach to achieving a goal has a greater chance of success than undisciplined processes. Full Stack Scrum™ initially enforces a system proven successful in multiple companies, and yet maximizes team empowerment over time relative to other systems.
Here are the key differences in FuSS™ from the way Agile is often practiced:
- The Agile Performance Standards.
- Maximized self-organization in the form of self-directed work teams that rotate the Facilitator role, replacing the Scrum Master (also because that term may be troubling to some people).
- The part-time nature of the Product Owner and Facilitator roles (see “Guidance Roles”).
- Extreme transparency through open meetings (“Scrum Ceremonies“), accessible work trackers (“Choose a Tracker“), and open-source Scrum training content and tools.
- Backlog and user story grooming by the entire team working together (“Groom Stories“).
- Creation of task lists prior to the sprint start (“Take Them to Task“).
- No story points required: FuSS relies on labor-hour estimation at the task level for story sizing, and story or epic counts for longer-term prediction (see “Why use task hours instead of story points?“).
Note: Organizations already using points and able to meet the Agile Performance Standards are welcome to keep using points.
- “Just enough, just in time” architecture documentation.
- Strict discipline around:
- Freedom of teams to revise or abandon most of the system once, and as long as, the Standards are met.
This system evolved through work at Honeywell, Red Hat, NetApp, and three smaller firms. I did not get authorization to create case studies, because I did not know I would be creating this site! However, here are some metrics from those engagements:
- Predictability across a unit’s cross-functional Scrum teams achieved the 84th percentile among all companies using CA Agile Central (then “Rally”) in less than a year.
- The system achieved quarterly release predictability above 90% consistently while helping to reduce the defect backlog to net zero.
- In the first sprint after taking over as Scrum Master, I helped a team deliver 100% of its committed stories for the first time, and it continued to do so in most subsequent sprints.
- An Agile tool selected using the method on which the Agile Tracking Tool Comparison is based was estimated to realize a minimum 282% annual return on investment, convincing the software organization to switch despite initial resistance.
- In the first contract in which I served as trainer and Scrum Master for four teams simultaneously, three of the four achieved 100% story acceptance within their first four sprints, with the fourth at 97% by contract end.
- Three teams navigated major personnel changes due to a reduction in force with little measurable impact on productivity.
- User-story acceptance rates rose by more than 50% in the first sprints managed by the approach at one company.
- One team adjusted to a change in scope of 119 initial stories due in three months (per a company-wide waterfall project plan) and delivered on time without overtime.
As mentioned in the previous section, FuSS is built on a foundation of self-directed work teams, groups without team leaders or managers involved in their daily operations. Here are a few success examples I came across (or had a hand in) while developing The SuddenTeams™ Program for creating high-performance teamwork:
- At a Green Giant plant in Illinois, a line-employee team reduced average machine changeover time by more than half, realizing $793,000 in downtime and inventory savings.
- A Quaker Oats team formed with union assistance rescued a plant in Illinois from probable closure and went on to achieve recognition as an “America’s Best Plant.”
- A team of “petroleum engineers from Amoco… cut its time to forecast remaining oil and gas reserves from 119 person-days to 29 person-days; a test and assembly team from Texas Instruments… reduced its manufacturing cycle time 42 percent on one of the company’s major products” (from Breakthrough Teamwork by D. Romig).
- The graphics department in Palm Beach County (FL) formed a self-directed team by splitting half of the former supervisor’s pay among the team members in exchange for taking over the supervisor’s duties. Within a year the team created a 21% increase in revenues—while saving the taxpayers the other half of the supervisor’s pay!
- At the federal government’s Los Alamos National Laboratory:
- In the six months after a switch to self-directed work teams, the package delivery group increased same-day deliveries to partial addresses by 186%; decreased total incorrect deliveries by 68%; and reduced sick-leave absences by 43%.
- Self-directed work teams were chiefly responsible for a rise in the Lab’s property management system ratings by outside auditors from 45 (out of 100) to 87 in just two years.
- After four months as a self-directed team, three technical communicators were doing as much work as the group had done before with five people—including a team leader—yet reported no sense of overload.
- A self-directed team at Tektronix was able to produce in just three days the same number of units formerly produced in 14.
- As reported in a PBS series called “Learning in America,” faculty members were teamed with principals or students to turn around four poor-performing schools around the country with disadvantaged student populations. Sample results from different schools include:
- Attendance rising from chronically low to a rate of 98 percent.
- Sixth-grade standardized scores going from the 44th percentile to the 97th.
- The percentage of students scoring at or above grade level in math growing from only half to more than 90 percent.
- A General Electric plant in North Carolina ran “without supervisors” and “reduced costs by more than 30 percent, shortened delivery cycles from three weeks to three days, and reduced customer complaints by a factor of ten” (from The Wisdom of Teams by J. Katzenbach and D. Smith).