First, I wanted to say that I feel each ‘large scale agile’ situation is different. The key problems are different. And therefore, the solution(s) should be different.
And I like the idea of patterns. This is the patterns idea: “Here are some things (patterns) that others have found useful, and maybe I can steal from them, and maybe even these things (patterns) will be useful for me.”
One of the nice things about patterns is that they start modestly. They do not boast “oh, I am sure you MUST have this tool.” They simply suggest: “Oh, you might find this tool useful.”
What is scaling? I am not sue that people agree. I would like the definition to be clean and precise, something like: “Scaling is when you have 3-7 Scrum Teams working together on one product, or one product release.” But I am afraid that too many people would disagree on that definition, and even I would say it is probably more specific than can fit reality (only 3-7 teams).
Note: So, scaling is mainly the notion of adding people, and does not say how or in which pattern the people are added. And it is not about Scrum per se. At least in common usage, scaling does not necessarily assume Scrum. Some might say “Oh, we just use Kanban Teams.”
Here are some places where you can steal (in a nice way). Because I like patterns, perhaps I like ScrumPLOP best.
SAFe. Scaled Agile Framework, associated with Dean Leffingwell. See here. Notice the lengthy glossary. And you will notice a whole bunch of Scrum words that have been redefined. Or slightly redefined. There is quite a lot there.
LeSS. Large Scale Scrum. See Scaling Lean and Agile Development by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. I like that book. Here is some info on the web. You will notice both similarities and important differences with what “Scaled Agile Framework” is suggesting.
DAD. Disciplined Agile Delivery, associated with Scott Ambler. In some sense Scott has been talking about these issues for years. But now he and others have this site. Again, some similarities and some important differences as compared to SAFe and LeSS.
ScrumPLOP. The Scrum Pattern Language group. The two key people behind this (in my opinion) are Jeff Sutherland and Jim Coplien. I have already said I like the patterns idea. This repository covers many things, and is not just addressed to the issue of ‘scaling’, however one might define scaling. But, it has a number of ‘scaling’ patterns. Some of the scaling patterns include: Chief Product Owner, Product Owner Group, Scrum of Scrums, Impediment Removal Team, Organizational Sprint Pulse, etc. You will notice that some of the groups mentioned above use these same patterns, although they may call them something different.
Note: See Jim Coplien’s note below.
I hope these resources are useful to you.
Again, I wish to remind you and caution you: Do not forget the individual team(s).
If you have great scaling and bad teams, you have almost nothing. If you have great teams, and fairly weak scaling, you still have something quite powerful. Don’t lose focus on what is important.