May 11, 2015

A case study: creating a global tribe

Adventures with Agile has partners in 5 countries, has over 600 members in the UK and 1000s of members worldwide. We have an average of 5.8 years Agile experience each and are typically Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters, C Level Execs, Department heads, senior managers, PMO and Product Owners. The community grows by about 3-4 people per day. We are only just starting the journey though.

We are a global tribe.

This is a little about why I think the community is working.

Friendly and open

Having a community as open as the Agile community has helped enormously in creating the world’s first global community of practice on scaling agile and organisational change. Everyone is so friendly and open that it is easy to get dialogue going and find a mutual interest quickly.

Building upon solid foundations

It also helps that there are local well established communities already running. These communities are really active, with great speakers, good attendance and a real community feel for sharing ideas and solving problems.

Riding the wave

Another factor that also helps is that Agile on an organisational scale is approaching the tipping point and is getting closer to crossing the chasm. According to Geoffrey Moore you need somewhere around 15-18.5% penetration to achieve mainstream velocity.

We have that for team based Agile processes but not true organisational change.

However, it is coming, and the community fulfils a need to answer problems at scale that have not been solved yet. The community solves a pain in the market place.

Solve real problems

Solving real world logistic problems for speakers has been a huge help. When organising world tours for a presenter it can be hugely time consuming trying to sort out local contacts, local venues and local marketing for an event.

By approaching a global community like Adventures with Agile, you effectively have one point of contact to reach all the areas around the globe you want to speak in.

Knowledgeable, well known and valuable speakers

A side benefit of having such prestigious speakers at local groups, means that each local group is elevated in credibility and the growth increases rapidly. Credibility rubs off on those organising the communities and on those taking the training courses that would not have been available otherwise.

Referral of work

Most Agile communities are run by coaches or small Agile agencies. We have a program to build trust and to win global clients by having a network of likeminded coaches that can add a truly global and consistent approach for clients who have offices in many locations. This is separate than the community, but typically the coaches arise from the community. Please email Simon for details.

The community, via coaches, solves a scaling problem for coaches to participate in global business but retain ownership and autonomy of their client list.

No hypocrisy

The community is run with the same values, process and practices the community stands for. On the homepage you will see the values and epics that guide the community.

 

Feedback

Collecting feedback, responding to change, and publishing feedback to tell people how well we did, has been an enormous help to tell people what we are about. If people like what we are saying and we share the same beliefs, then the tribe can grow. We are clear about our beliefs, values and are honest and transparent with all we do.

We have a feedback page where you can see what others have been saying.

Funding the tribe

We have created a successful model to make it financially work by offering paid for training sessions to the community and using this money to fly the presenter round the world. Any excess money goes to the free events and to pay the organiser for their time. Running a community is a time consuming activity.

Funding a community is essential to make it last. Having set up many communities inside of organisations, I have found the biggest failure is not having enough time to run them. Unless organisations are willing to fund their own learning, it will not happen in the organisation, it will happen in people’s spare time and not be aligned to the organisations purpose.

Funding a community is essential for longevity, so all local groups make some money out of the tribe just to keep them active, fun places to be and to fun things like pizza at the events.

Continually growing

Adventures with Agile is growing rapidly and we are very keen to hear from communities from around the world who would like to become partners. We have an application form online where you can request to join. If accepted, you will then be added to our global list and a page created for you. You can list events, and we will advertise to the global group.

Further reading

If you want to read more about tribes, I recommend Seth Godin on Ted Talks.

Join our community

If you are interested in Scaling Agile or Organisational Change, you can join our community and receive news, offers and introductions through our mailing list. You can join here: 

You can also follow us on Twitter: @AgileAdventures

And watch previous Agile events for free here.

Or you can request to speak at one of the community events.

Building your own community

I’m not sure all of the factors here have to be part of a community to make it successful, but they have helped us. This is just the beginning of the journey.

Thank you for reading.

Simon Powers

Simon Powers is an Agile Coach specialising in large scale transformations and agile adoption. He has a background in very large enterprise architecture which has led on to organisational design and agile process refinement. Simon is the founder of Adventures with Agile.