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Agile42 Connect
Berlin, November, 5th, 2015
Ray Hausmann, Babbel.com
The challenge of being a team
representative in a scaled Agile
environment
Agenda
1. Growth
2. All Team Events
3. Representatives
4. Problem Statement
5. First actions
Growth
Growth in General (1 of 2)
• Babbel in general is growing by almost 100% every year
• Product and Engineering grew around ...
Growth in Product and Engineering (2 of 2)
• Scaling and Synchronisation of the
Scrum Activities in December
2014
• A Team...
All Team Events
All Team Events (1 of 6)
• All Team Review
• All Team Planning
• All Team Retrospective
All Team Events - the All Team Review (2 of 6)
• 120 min max, 5 min break
• Attendees are all the Product and Engineering ...
All Team Events - the All Team Planning (3 of 6)
All Team Events - the All Team Planning (3 of 6)
• 45 min max
• Every team represented by the PO and (non mandatory) team ...
All Team Events - the All Team Retrospective
(4 of 6)
All Team Events - the All Team Retrospective
(4 of 6)
• 90 min max
• Every other sprint!
• Every team is represented by a ...
All Team Events - Overview (5 of 6)
All team
Review Meeting
A B C D E F ..
A B C D E F ..
Team retrospective
All team retr...
All Team Events - Feedback (6 of 6)
• We have received hundreds of feedbacks to the events.
• The All Teams concept has de...
Representatives
Representatives in General (1 of 6)
• Definition: A representative is a person chosen by a team in order to
stand-in for t...
Representatives at Babbel (3 of 6)
At the All Team Events we require the representatives to
• bring in the team's results ...
Advantages/Disadvantages of using
Representatives (4 of 6)
Advantages
• Reduced meeting overhead for the majority of team ...
Observations on Representatives at Babbel (5 of 6)
Representatives do not bring issues of their teams but their own
• Ofte...
The Babbel Scrum Master’s View (6 of 6)
Benefits of a smaller group vs. the complete crowd
● Others can focus on their wor...
Problem Statement
Problem Statement
All Team Events barely perform like team activities. They lack ease, continuity
and fun due to the overh...
First Actions
First Actions
• Survey with the attendants of the last 2 retrospectives (participation rate at
50%)
• We recently have sta...
Thank you for attending this talk.
The challenge of being a team representative in a scaled agile environment
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The challenge of being a team representative in a scaled agile environment

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Babbel has experienced enormous growth in the past years. The number of teams and people requires new ways of handling information and decisions. One approach established at Babbel was to streamline the cross-team information flow by inviting team representatives to the overall planning and retrospective meetings. At agile42 Connect in Berlin, November 2015, Roy Hausmann has presented some of the findings with this approach and what they have started in order to address the issues.

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The challenge of being a team representative in a scaled agile environment

  1. 1. Agile42 Connect Berlin, November, 5th, 2015 Ray Hausmann, Babbel.com
  2. 2. The challenge of being a team representative in a scaled Agile environment
  3. 3. Agenda 1. Growth 2. All Team Events 3. Representatives 4. Problem Statement 5. First actions
  4. 4. Growth
  5. 5. Growth in General (1 of 2) • Babbel in general is growing by almost 100% every year • Product and Engineering grew around 25% last year
  6. 6. Growth in Product and Engineering (2 of 2) • Scaling and Synchronisation of the Scrum Activities in December 2014 • A Team Forming Workshop in order to form cross-functional teams took place in April 2015
  7. 7. All Team Events
  8. 8. All Team Events (1 of 6) • All Team Review • All Team Planning • All Team Retrospective
  9. 9. All Team Events - the All Team Review (2 of 6) • 120 min max, 5 min break • Attendees are all the Product and Engineering people plus stakeholders • Teams present the results of the last sprint • Feedback to the teams per post-its to be openly discussed for 10 min max • Every team presents outcomes of the discussion • Meeting Feedback on post-its
  10. 10. All Team Events - the All Team Planning (3 of 6)
  11. 11. All Team Events - the All Team Planning (3 of 6) • 45 min max • Every team represented by the PO and (non mandatory) team members • Team - usually the PO - presents stories committed to • Presentation as well covers dependencies and risks discovered • Meeting Feedback on post-its
  12. 12. All Team Events - the All Team Retrospective (4 of 6)
  13. 13. All Team Events - the All Team Retrospective (4 of 6) • 90 min max • Every other sprint! • Every team is represented by a designated representative • Review running actions/experiments at the beginning • Team Representatives bring inter team relevant issues/goals • Attendees prioritize topics in order to decide on actions for long term goals • Meeting Feedback on post-its
  14. 14. All Team Events - Overview (5 of 6) All team Review Meeting A B C D E F .. A B C D E F .. Team retrospective All team retrospective A B C D E F .. All team planning Team planning 13:00 - 14:00 14:00 - 15:00 15:00 - 16:15 16:15 - 17:00 11:00 - 13:00 Lunch Break Tue Wed 2nd Sprint
  15. 15. All Team Events - Feedback (6 of 6) • We have received hundreds of feedbacks to the events. • The All Teams concept has developed over 11 months. • The All Team Retrospective originally was attended by representatives. • This as well was introduced for the All Team Planning on feedback we got. In the end we make use of representatives in those events, which add to the team activities.
  16. 16. Representatives
  17. 17. Representatives in General (1 of 6) • Definition: A representative is a person chosen by a team in order to stand-in for that team at a duty the whole team is not needed for. • All the approaches to scale Agile make use of representatives e.g. LeSS • Nexus even talks about an “appropriate representative”
  18. 18. Representatives at Babbel (3 of 6) At the All Team Events we require the representatives to • bring in the team's results of the activity to be scaled • stand-in for the team in the discussions and collaborations at the event • channel back relevant actions to the represented team In addition representatives feel to be in charge of • offering perspectives on issues raised • contributing diversity in terms of ideas • taking ownership on action items coming up
  19. 19. Advantages/Disadvantages of using Representatives (4 of 6) Advantages • Reduced meeting overhead for the majority of team members • Participation in the discussion is possible for everyone. • More focussed discussion possible Disadvantages • Increased workload for the representative to prepare / channel back • Useful ideas from the ones not attending get lost • Risk of creating a silo and limiting the diversity of contributions • Risk of misinterpretations by the representative
  20. 20. Observations on Representatives at Babbel (5 of 6) Representatives do not bring issues of their teams but their own • Often valid for guests as well • Some representatives value diversity of perspectives POs dominate the team representatives • shield the team members from getting distracted • “While I’m ‘going to scaled meetings, my devs can focus on what they feel comfortable with.’“ Altering attendees prevent the All Team Retrospective from flowing • Need of updates on reasons and details of running actions/experiments • Changes to the facilitation need to be explained
  21. 21. The Babbel Scrum Master’s View (6 of 6) Benefits of a smaller group vs. the complete crowd ● Others can focus on their work. ● Attendants can focus on topics. ● Manageable number of attendants for the facilitation. ● Better filtering (Representatives are usually OK prepared.) Benefits of having designated vs. changing representatives ● Review of running actions is much more fluent. ● Development of a habit is possible.
  22. 22. Problem Statement
  23. 23. Problem Statement All Team Events barely perform like team activities. They lack ease, continuity and fun due to the overhead they create and the larger distance of the event’s topics to the delegate’s/team’s needs.
  24. 24. First Actions
  25. 25. First Actions • Survey with the attendants of the last 2 retrospectives (participation rate at 50%) • We recently have started asking the teams to send designated representatives.
  26. 26. Thank you for attending this talk.

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