Talking to Mike Cottmeyer at the Agile Coach Camp Denmark 2013 I realize that my thoughts about agile not fitting to large projects, Programs and portfolios had also been though of by other people.
Mike told me that the original idea with agile was to handle small teams and small projects and that what he thought that agile was invented for. Now we have to address the next level, which include large projects, programs and portfolio management.
I found that Mike have some interesting opinions on this topic.
Transforming a large company into Agile is not an easy task. A there is the question if it should be done iteratively or incrementally. Well Mike recommended that at in large companies you start out by incremental implementing the agile practices (adopt practies).
The reason for this is that practices, processes, quality focus is easier to sell and is faster to implement. Once the top management realize that you have provided value they will trust your next move, which is to implement Cultural change (people transformation) and organizational changes iterative.
Another interesting point of Mikes talk in Texas 2012 was that he talked about how to organize n-tier organization by using Scrum at 1-tier and Kanban at the 2-and 3-tier level. Here he explained a way to structure a program or even a portfolio of project using agile practices – pretty cool.
On the right side you have your organisation structure with scrum teams, product teams or program teams and at the to you have the portfolio of products. Then at the left you have the change agent (the structured boards) which you will be able to handle your epics at Tier 3 in a Kanban pull way and at the Tier 2 you have the Features in a Kanban, while at Tier 1 you got the scrum teams with the User stories.
So having no epics larger that 3-6 month and no features larger that 1 month leaving the user stories to be the maximum the size of the sprint length which is common to be 2 weeks. These rules will support the ability to change and no loose value (embrace change).