From Status Updates To Shared Goals: Transforming Scrum Of Scrums Into A True Community Of Practice

In large organizations with multiple Scrum teams, collaboration and alignment across groups can be challenging. Teams may find themselves working towards disparate or even conflicting goals, reducing efficiency and impact. Transforming Scrum coordination meetings from simple status updates into richer interactions that build shared understanding and common objectives requires intention and effort. By cultivating true communities of practice, teams can work synergistically to create greater value together than they can individually.

Aligning Goals Across Teams

With numerous Scrum teams tasked with different products and responsibilities, maintaining alignment on overarching organizational goals can be difficult. The autonomous and self-organizing nature of Scrum teams empowers productivity but can also lead to siloed thinking. Teams hyper focused on maximizing velocity and sprint burndowns may lose sight of broader strategic targets. And mismatched priorities or poor coordination with other groups can undermine outcomes.

These collaboration issues manifest in tangible ways, including duplicated work, costly rework from poor handoffs, and products optimized for local efficiency rather than global effectiveness. Teams find themselves correcting course late in development when solutions turn out mismatched to actual user needs or business priorities. More alignment early on could prevent these pitfalls.

Techniques do exist to facilitate collaboration and shared strategy across Scrum teams, both lightweight and more expansive. For example, identifying cadences for sync-ups between teams developing interdependent products can surface integration issues early. Conducting regular user story mapping or design thinking workshops jointly rather than separately can build shared models to prevent divergence. And aligning onboarding, training, and team building to reinforce organization-level rather than team-specific values and objectives can cultivate a culture of collaboration.

Fostering Shared Understanding

Behind many coordination troubles lies issues of disjointed mental models – teams operate under different assumptions and with incomplete knowledge of various product domains and development efforts. Developing shared understanding across teams thus becomes critical.

Scrum already provides various forums for teams to interact, share status, and surface challenges, especially the Scrum of Scrums meeting for scrum masters and the Sprint Review for broader product transparency. But given packed agendas, these tend to focus more on tactical status updates rather than strategic insight sharing. Teams end up thinly connected rather than deeply integrated both cognitively and culturally.

Some methods help teams build shared mental models. Techniques like user story mapping, for example, promote understanding of core user journeys and development priorities across products. Teams also benefit from job shadowing, rotating members between teams, holding co-design workshops, and mapping product architectures together. The more teams collectively explore problem and solution spaces instead of separately, the better aligned their mental models.

From Status Updates to True Community

The classic Scrum of Scrums convenes scrum masters to provide status updates across teams, culminating in a series of choreographed reports. While this coordination helps avoid major surprises, teams still operate fairly independently, coming together mostly to exchange soundbites versus meaningful discourse.

For deeper levels of collaboration, Scrum coordination meetings should evolve into true communities of practice rather than mere status meetings. This involves consistently working across team boundaries to explore challenges, build personal relationships, and nurture shared learning amongst members. Teams develop an interdependent web of understanding that helps identify misalignments early and enables even latent collaboration.

This level of community requires vulnerability, co-problem solving, and investing in the collective outcome, not just delivering individual team results. But the payoff can be more agile coordination and sharing insights that together realize better solutions.

Co-Creating Value

When Scrum teams build deep shared understanding and priorities, they can progress past minimizing surprises during sprints to actually co-designing solutions. Rather than loosely connected teams individually pushing towards targets in isolation, collective planning and building promotes complementary solutions and synchronization.

Techniques like collaborative design sprints, integrated Retrospectives, peer code reviews, and participatory roadmapping help teams co-imagine and co-build rather than just report status. The focus shifts from “how can we stay aligned” to “how can we collaborate to make each other successful.”

This level of integration supercharges creativity as teams build on each other’s ideas, pivot faster together, and draw from collective experiences. Outcomes can far surpass the sum of separate efforts, creating substantial value at the intersection of collaborating teams.

Next Steps for More Effective Scrum Coordination

Transforming Scrum meetings into rich collaborative experiences rather than superficial status updates better unites distributed teams into shared mission and outcomes. Techniques like collective design sprints, integrated roadmaps, job rotations, and true communities of practice help teams transcend siloed thinking to deliver greater value together.

Interested to implement stronger communities of practice across your Scrum teams? Reach out for additional templates, workshop designs, and reading on elevating collaboration.

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