Scaling Up Excellence – Agile 2012 Keynote

Bob Sutton delivered an interesting and informative keynote at Agile 2012 on how to Scale and maintain excellence. The session was a grab-bag of interesting ideas that apply even if you aren’t interested in scaling. Here is my infographic on the session:

Here’s the synopsis:

  • #1 More vs. Better (or Dilution) – no matter what you do, you will lose quality as you expand. So you need to chose between more and better. Starbucks expansion from 1,000 to 13,000 stores was given as an example of the drop in quality.
  • #2 Alone vs. Shared – example here is Pixar that has only full-time permanent employees working together to build the product.
  • #3 Catholicism vs. Buddhism – Do you create one gold standard and attempt to replicate or do you use principles and allow for localization? Sadly most Agile rollouts look like Catholicism which is contrary to the principles.
  • (I lost track of numbers around here)
  • Hot Cause, cool solution – Get people emotionally charged up and then give them an easy way to get started.
  • Go Simple – Ideas and visuals need to be simple for them to catch-on and stick. This can drive the more detailed and complex outcomes.
  • Team Size – 4 to 6 is optimal. What does this mean for Scrum where many teams are at 7, 8 or worse even larger?
  • Don’t put up with bad behaviour – One bad team member can cause 30% to 40% loss in team output.
Checkout slides from an earlier presentation.
You can watch the Agile 2012 video if you are a member of the Agile Alliance.


Michael K Sahota guides and teaches leaders how to create high-performance organizations. He is the creator of a proven system for leading change through a practical playbook. His model for Consciously Approaching Agile guides the creation of a cultural and leadership context where Agile creates lasting organizational results. Michael has taught over 1000 leaders worldwide through his highly acclaimed “Agile” Culture & Leadership Training. His company, Agilitrix, delivers “Agile Transformation- Redefined” with an elite team of consultants who specialize in unlocking Culture.

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