Enterprise Scrum: Ignore THIS Advice and Fail

www.implementingscrum.com -- Why complicate things with Scrum or other techniques?

I am about to possibly rock your world — or the organizations around you.

Welcome back to yet another week at www.implementingscrum.com.  I appreciate all the comments from the last posting and comic strip, and it feels good for me to get back into posting the comics and new thoughts.

It seems like you enjoy them too (thank you).

If you ARE in this situation, start the difficult conversations today about how to fix it… and SHARE this posting within your organization.

If you are NOT in this situation, well… count yourself lucky and SHARE this posting with your friends who might be in the following situation!

Is your organization struggling to come up with an “Enterprise Plan” for rolling out Agile [and Scrum in particular]?

I am working with clients today that have a similar problem.  I have worked with many many many large [and small] enterprises over the years and have seen many patterns that work.  I have also been personally involved with ideas that have failed (and yeah, some were even my ideas).

Here is the number one reason I have seen that “Enterprise Rollouts” of Agile and Scrum FAIL:

They try to implement it too fast and furious.

Does this sound familiar?

Here is some great advice (and I know most people will ignore it AND possibly even disagree with me) for successfully rolling out Agile and Scrum projects:

Start with ONE project.

That’s it.  Sound too easy?  Hmm… Remember that the easiest and obvious answer may be that way for a reason!

“But Mike,” people say to me.

“WE are different.”

“WE need to get our entire portfolio up and running using Agile and Scrum across the worldwide distributed enterprise so that we can get metrics and tools in place to increase our time to market, lower costs, and make everyone feel like it is a party coming to work every day.”

OK… so the “party” part in that last statement was made up by me (smile).  Just making sure you are with me.

The idea that, “We are different” and “we need to do bla bla bla bla” ALL RIGHT NOW will kill your Agile and Scrum implementation.

Don’t believe me?

OK… try it and get back to me.  Or… continue down this thread with me….

If you are jumping on the Agile Bandwagon and using Scrum to transform your entire enterprise because “everyone else is now doing it” (yeah… Agile and Scrum have hit mainstream!) here is another word of advice.


Right now.


Remember it took your organization years (and maybe decades) to paint yourself into the corner you are in today.  Your organization has probably spent years coming up with incredibly complicated frameworks, processes, or  methodologies to get things done.  People have been promoted and rewarded for building empires and silos of expertise.

You also know that if you keep doing this, you are screwed.

Because your competitors are now all “Agile” and a lot are using this thing called “Scrum.”

There is still a major failure rate out there using Scrum (and the other Agile techniques).

Why is this?

Organizations — made up of really smart people (usually) — are making one of the greatest and most common mistakes in history… trying to inject too much change at one time.

Remember what happens when you try to do this (on a regular basis even)?

The organization will always always always go back to the way it was.


Comfortable, but Dysfunctional.

AND… just as screwed as before you wanted to start this Enterprise Rollout of Agile and Scrum.




If you are just getting started (or have already been down the path to where now “Scrum” or “Agile” is a bad and forbidden word in your organization) with a Scrum and Agile change management process….

Start with ONE Scrum project.

Get Executive Sponsorship as high up into the organization as possible (they need to take the fire cover for you and will be burning political favors).

Worry about scaling it later.

Otherwise, you’ll be just as comfortably dysfunctional and screwed at the end of the day.

Don’t believe me?

That’s OK.

Your competitors do.

Let me know your thoughts.

I am listening!


  1. Great post! I heartily agree and it is the line I follow – mainly because I am a single coach and cant coach a whole enterprise at the same time! One project, demonstrate success, build from there. It is a more natural and sustainable approach.

  2. Great post Mike, cheers from CR

  3. Yes – sounds reasonable and obvious. Meaning you are probably right …

    But when do you then start number 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, …

    Is there some kind of point where you go larger and try to get smoe momentum into the implementation?

    What if you actually have a team of coaches and a more structure approach for enabling them niclude training, help and support for the first 3-4 months. How will this change your view?

  4. I appreciate the comment thank you.

  5. Thank you. I look forward to coming back soon!

  6. Great question and thanks for the comment.

    I’d still recommend starting with one team and get successful. Produce working software consistently and at a predictable sustainable pace.

    I have started and been included in teams of coaches and a structured approach. This is a good idea once you show the first project can work. Otherwise you really cause more problems. Coaches as an effective team takes time. There still is no silver bullet or magic answer. This is why I stay fully booked with people who want to do this. And many others.

    Keep learning.

    And look at my previous post from this one. Notice what is always still needed!

    By the way… I love coaching and training and mentoring both new and existing teams to improve the work gets done!

  7. SurelyPlus says:

    “Use Scrum to implement Scrum.” Wouldn’t this be the best advice?
    No Big Bang strategy, but incremental product delivery. First project is like the first increment of your “product”. Review the results, make a retrospective and improve on the next projects.

    Nice post, like your writing style.

  8. Mike, nice to see you posting again. Your annoying pop up is 20x as annoying on a mobile device.

  9. Hi Craig,

    Thank you for the feedback. I’ll give that new pop up thingee another few weeks to see if it converts more people to subscribers… it *should* only be showing up one time… please let me know if that is not the case so I can make sure it gets fixed. I have found the best way to keep in contact with people is by getting connected via email (still).

  10. Bespoke Software Solutions says:

    ok You don’t like Agile/Scrum. What do you reommend?

  11. Hmmm… not sure where you say I do not like Scrum. Why do you think that? :)

  12. An excellent post Mike. Couldn’t agree less with your “Number One” reason of implementing Scrum “Fast and Furious”. Enjoyed it.


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  2. [...] Enterprise Scrum: Ignore THIS Advice and Fail [...]

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