Holacracy Community of Practice Archive, 2015-2019 Community Holacracy Web Site

(Scrum + Holacracy) Integration

Has there been any work to have simple straight out of the box governance for development teams that use strict scrum?

6 Replies
Massimo Giliberti

I know that there is an addon for the holacracy constitution for scum.  It is not exactly the same as traditional scrum but the important parts are all still there.  For there to be an addon im sure there are a lot of implementations out there.

John Bunch
Do you know where this addon is?
Originally Posted by max588:

I know that there is an addon for the holacracy constitution for scum.  It is not exactly the same as traditional scrum but the important parts are all still there.  For there to be an addon im sure there are a lot of implementations out there.



TL;DR - there's a good fit but be careful - use Holacracy's ability to surface tensions and Scrum's Inspect and Adapt cycle to keep in balance also keep the bigger picture in mind.


As with so much be sensitive to context. In my roles as Agile Coach and Agile Practice Lead and having been a trainer of Scrum and other agile practices, I looked at this area a number of years ago when transitioning an IT consultancy organisation to use Holacracy and become a Licensed Holacracy Provider. It was before the dawn of the Holacracy App Store concept so I never published it beyond talking about it at a couple of conferences here in NZ. 

There are very obvious connection points on how Scrum can exist very happily within the framework of Holacracy. There are also nuances where initial wrinkles could turn out to tear the fabric of your organisation. The Facilitator in Holacracy and the Scrum Master are analogous but are not the same. The Scrum Masters purview is in three parts; it is to the Development Team, The Product Owner and the Organisation. Many fail at Scrum because they only consider the Scrum Master relationship with the Development Team. Under Holacracy this means that the Scrum Master's Accountabilities (as set out in The Scrum Guide) cross beyond the specific team and out into the broader circle.


I won't go on and on as any reader who has got this far is probably bored by now. I have just tried to show that it's not always as simple as it seems. It's a bit like Sociocracy practitioners saying that Holacracy is simply Sociocracy re-skinned - it might look that way on first glance but you need to go deeper.


P.S. I always worry when I hear things like "Strict Scrum" - it's a bad smell to me until I understand what is really meant. In my past experience it has never turned out well.

Alexia Bowers

It is sort of weird - since Holacracy was influenced by Agile, you sort of get many of the principles out of the box. I think that if I was trying to "install" Scrum in a Holacracy team, I would start with setting up the main Scrum roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master, Developer, Tester, etc. Make Scrum Master accountable for scheduling and facilitating the specific Scrum/Agile meetings (daily standup, sprint meeting, estimation meetings, retrospectives); give Product Owner domain of the product (or dev pipeline - whatever gets you to prioritization) and make Product Owner accountable for sitting with the team (basically being available - in whatever concrete form it takes); and make Developer accountable for showing regular working software to Product Owner and integrating feedback. I think that might be enough to get a team started. We've tried adding a separate role for championing Agile practices, though currently on the GlassFrog circle, that's on our version of Scrum Master, but it seems to be a useful accountability to have out there. Actually, just creating a role that is accountable for integrating Scrum practices into the circle would probably do it. But if you want a bit more structure, then Scrum provides a lot of the roles for you to get you started. 

If it is feasible on your team, I would recommend having separate role-fillers fill Lead Link, Scrum Master, and Product Owner - especially for new teams. If that isn't workable, then treating Scrum Master like Facilitator and keeping it separate from Lead Link is probably best. If you want Facilitator to run Scrum meetings, then you can put Scrum Master in charge of process/agenda, and add an accountability to Facilitator to facilitate Scrum meetings if the process is clear enough that it doesn't limit your Facilitator elections to just folks who are well-versed in Agile.


We've been iterating on integrating the two for quite some time now. We still haven't landed on the sweat spot but some of the things we've done (besides the obvious install app) is around integrating some of the tactical meeting with the scrum meetings. We've kept governance as a completely separate meeting. Essentially, the daily stand-up is where we triage quick tactical issues/impediments. To keep it short, if there are issues that require more discussion we add them to an agenda and process post stand-up with interested parties using the tactical meeting format.  That addition has improved the effectiveness of stand-ups for the team. Product demos basically acts as project reviews. The goal would be to completely absorb the tactical activities in the Scrum methodology. Our current state is that we still have tactical meetings but the focus is on the larger context that Scrum team sits within in rather than the product of the Scrum team.


Like I said, we're still iterating so if someone has the perfect solution I'd totally be interested.