#2 of 50 Ways to Succeed at Agile: Focus on Making a Small Team and Tribe Agile First

team-agileIt is possible for companies to take a tribe of up to 100 people and make them agile all at once–Yes. 101 people? No. If you are focusing on making a single tribe of up to 100 people agile then you can likely have great success. Even better if you start with a subset of the tribe of 10 to 20. Now my numbers may be a little off (entirely too high) but the rule still applies.

“We took all 1,000 of our people agile all at once,” I hear people boast.

“But they are not very agile,” is my simple observation.

Usually they are not even doing a tiny fraction of the engineering practices that actually make agile work. But you are doing it right. You are focusing first on making a one or two smalls teams agile and then you are scaling it up to a slightly larger tribe.

In dramatically less time than it takes everyone else to roll out a poor version of agile you will have rolled out an excellent version of agile—just not all at once.

Larger organizations need to adapt almost everything they do to really embrace agility.

This customization takes profound knowledge of agile and should be done with a tiny focus team leading the transformation with the full participation of executives, coaches, managers, and employees.

First you get a tiny team working well with the executive buy-in on how they are operating. Then you create and customize the ceremonies to better fit the corporate culture. Later you scale the tiny teams to a larger tribe. Lastly, around 100 people, you federate the ceremonies to new tribes–all done with full executive support.

Your competitors, of course, didn’t do this—they are not as clever as you. Instead they launched agile to everyone prematurely and as a result they inculcated so many bad habits into their teams from the very beginning that they will probably never be as agile as you.


You, however, have a careful scaling plan based on cellular division. You have shown it is possible to spread agile knowledge to several thousands developers very rapidly by not doing it all at once.

This is reason #2 you will succeed at agile.

By Tom (Thomas) Meloche – www.TomMeloche.com


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