“Scaled agile” is not agile
Agility is about creating—or, if that’s too much, at least responding to—change with speed.
Scale is about repeatable patterns.
Repeatability and change rarely add up. Much like “continuity with change”.
You don’t want your strategy to sound like a slogan from a satirical TV show. ;)
Unless, that is, your “repeatable pattern” is self-disruption.
It’s “0 to 1 vs 1 to 100” (Peter Thiel). “Day One vs Day Two” (Jeff Bezos).
Google and Amazon and Apple are indeed impressive.
But retro-fitting someone else’s success to your world by copying “form without content” rarely, if ever, works.
Innovation takes inspiration, and the autonomy and drive to turn that into reality. It can happen from the top. Or from the periphery. “Anything goes” (Feyerabend).
But most often, it simply doesn’t happen.
Because to be inspired, you need to be curious. And not fear leaving the safe past and “consistent” thoughts behind.
And beside inspiration, you also need the freedom and means to build what you imagined.
That means breaking the dichotomy of “leadership” without expertise vs “delivery” with no decision power.
The first time I saw this, I thought it was a parody. Even today, I imagine its creators must have had a good secret laugh. ;)
To break free, the last thing you need are PowerPoint decks that marry the Matrix Management anti-pattern to the rituals of the Cult of SCRUM.
But sadly it’s easier to fail like others (we hired the best advisers, and did what everyone else did), than it is to stand out, for a chance of success against the risk of exposed failure.