Team of Teams Timeline in Weeks

The Team of Teams holon’s success depends on the health of the Teams that comprise it, and the strength of the relationships between them. Teams conduct their own ceremonies and participate in the ceremonies of the Team of Teams holon, along with their peers. With proper communication, representation and information sharing Teams of Teams are able to rapidly create value in a much broader scale with minimal loss due to overhead. Without it, key risks due to handoffs, waiting for dependencies, rework due to integration of incompatible designs, siloed knowledge and missed opportunities for reuse, co-design and learning can substantially diminish the capacity of the Team of Teams.

Values & Goals
Understand my team's role
Accountability to my team
Self governing team
Self organizing team
Agile mindset
Willing to learn & grow
Product & Impact
Prioritized healthy backlog
Working software with quality
Necessary tools to do the job
Good metric tracking (KPIs)
ToT working agreement
Predictable delivery
Product feedback loops
Marketing plans
Training courses
Leadership & Culture
ToT morale
Cross-Team camaraderie
Shared vision/goals
ToT values
Understand function of other teams
External perception
Trust, transparency
Cross-Team feedback
Servant leadership culture
Conscious Leadership culture
Continuous improvement culture
Cross-Team collaboration
Team member rotation
Development of future leaders
Markets & Environment
Effective Agile process
Effective architecture
Collaboration space
Collaboration tools
Predictable cadence
Automation where appropriate
Effective Business processes
Sales pipeline
Sufficient funding & sponsorship
Upstream dependencies support success
Specialized services support
Share best practices
Cross training

Back to top

Quarterly Envisioning

ToT Backlog Refinement (once per Sprint, follow on to team backlog refinement)This session defines the vision and objectives for the next quarter. It shifts the focus from OUTPUT to OUTCOMES. We know that there will always be more ideas than capacity to execute, and therefore there is always too much on the plate. Shifting the definition of success from “we delivered x amount of features to the market,” to “we made x impact on the world” allows the Team of Teams to look critically at the feature list and focus on those that will best advance the strategic objectives, and leave the rest as stretch goals.

The highest impact objectives are then aligned with those of other ToTs, as well as the annual objectives from Annual Lean Portfolio Management.

Values & Goals
Vision for the quarter
Aligned to purpose
Innovation mindset
Willing to take risks
Continuous improvement
Product & Impact
Quarterly OKRs
Define Features
Feedback loops
Update roadmaps
Leadership & Culture
Maintain or improve ToT culture
Leader development
Feedback from employees
Open channels of communication
Top to bottom alignment of purpose/vision
Markets & Environment
Capacity plan
Explore flow improvements
Sequencing of Team execution
Hiring/talent acquisition
Systems/equipment/real estate procurement/dissolution
Understand market conditions

Back to top

ToT Backlog Refinement (once a sprint, follow on to team refinement)

ToT Backlog Refinement (once per Sprint, follow on to team backlog refinement)The Team of Teams Backlog Refinement session is led by the Chief Product Owner and attended by the Product Owners of all involved teams as well as any necessary SMEs. This should be held on the same day as the Team Backlog Refinement to properly align strategic and tactical decision making. The Product owner who facilitates the Team Backlog Refinement is a participant in the ToT backlog refinement and brings the full context of the team-level decisions to the ToT process. This key interconnection is critical to maintaining alignment between portfolio and team objectives.

Values & Goals
Vision for the Team
Empowered team
Committed team
Properly skilled and resourced
Product & Impact
Write down features
Make Features/Epics READY
Engaged Chief Product Owner
Split into shell stories
Planning horizon
Acceptance/Success criteria
Leadership & Culture
Shared vision
Cross-team collaboration
Help other teams
Product & tech perspectives
Markets & Environment
Feature level DoR
Architectural/Systemic needs
Dependency mitigation

Back to top

Team of Teams Quarterly Planning

Team of Teams Quarterly PlanningThis session best resembles what Scrum calls Release Planning, or what SAFe calls PI Planning. Our recommendation is to come up with a high level execution plan with key dependencies, risks, and milestones clearly defined. It is not necessary to thoroughly plan more than the first 1-2 sprints as the later sprints will be best informed by the results of the first ones, allowing the teams to Respond to change vs follow a plan.

Business context, design, and architectural needs should be well understood by all teams, and used to inform the high level plan with the best available current knowledge.

Values & Goals
Team goals
Cross functional
Self organizing
Self governing
Supportive of other teams
Proactive & creative culture
Product & Impact
ToT Working agreement
Tooling that supports scale
Scaled plan - optimize for flow
Risk board
User flows
Architectural flows
OKRs finalized and shared
Leadership & Culture
Shared Scaled Goal
External team collaboration
Effective communication
Commitment to scaled plan intent
ToT Values
Retrospect on planning
Markets & Environment
Capacity planning
Resources are available
Dependency mapping & mitigation
Environments ready

Back to top

Scrum of Scrums (twice a Sprint or as needed)

Scrum of ScrumsThe Scrum of Scrums brings together the Scrum Masters from each of the teams in the ToT to collectively navigate the ever changing environment while collaborating on shared product goals. The primary objectives are

  • Surfacing impediments and opportunities
  • Working together to support/enable each other
  • Escalating intractable issues to leadership.

The SoS will also often include representation from product or tech SMEs based on interest and need.

Values & Goals
Team morale
Team purpose
How is the team doing?
Solution mindset
Product & Impact
Update other teams
Update Agile tooling
Release burn up chart
Shift work to meet changing needs
Surface impediments
Leadership & Culture
Teams collaborating with teams
ToT shared purpose
Provide updates
Ask for help
Markets & Environment
Impediment reporting/removal
Dependency tracking
Capacity check in

Back to top

ToT Demo/Review (once a month or as needed)

ToT Backlog Refinement (once per Sprint, follow on to team backlog refinement)The objective of the Team of Teams review is to demonstrate completed, integrated functionality to your stakeholders, partners, and other teams. The ability to take a step back and see the product evolve incrementally builds a sense of group accomplishment while bringing new perspectives and ideas to the table. It is a critical opportunity to have an open conversation with your customers to get their feedback and better understand their needs.

Values & Goals
Demonstrate work by team
Open to feedback
Engaged & excited, pride in their work
Product & Impact
Demonstrate integrated functionality
View of the emerging product
Tracking towards business goals
Leadership & Culture
Customer/User feedback
Team feedback (constructive)
Course correction (Priority, Learning)
Markets & Environment
Value added to the system/product?
Organizational/Systemic Learning
Review delivery against plan

Back to top

ToT Retrospective (once a month)

ToT Retrospective (once a month)This session enables all collaborating teams to identify and respond to collective challenges and opportunities. The ToT retrospective is essential for building alignment across teams, establishing smooth working processes and building healthy relationships. We recommend holding both the team and ToT retrospectives on the same day, creating a half day dedicated to continuous improvement every month.

After the teams meet separately to gather their feedback, they gather in a larger session to identify common areas of improvement. Holding this offsite at a fun venue can be a great team building activity and help strengthen the bonds between teams.

Values & Goals
Team by team retro
Team accountability
Team learning
Product & Impact
Overall ToT retro
Action Items to improve
Measurement of action item impact
Leadership & Culture
What can we do differently at scale?
Open and honest intent
Teams share their experience
Markets & Environment
Team celebration choice/venue

Back to top

ToT Systems Governance (once a sprint)

ToT Systems Governance (once a sprint)The actions taken in the Team of Teams holon in this session are identical to those in Portfolio Systems Governance, but on a smaller scale with narrower focus. This session is where the strategic and tactical meet. It enables teams to maintain architectural integrity while responding to the emergent needs of ongoing product development.

The key objective is to provide a means for the teams to balance short term (immediate delivery needs) and long term (adaptation of new technologies and capabilities) needs while maintaining or improving quality and maintainability.

Values & Goals
Alignment to Vision/Future Search
Subject matter expertise
Focus on simplicity
Focus on value add
Customer centricity
Product & Impact
Architectural runway
Choice of technology
Systems training
Pilot new ideas (POC)
Reporting (outcomes)
Reporting (systems)
Leadership & Culture
Train & mentor
Understand company culture
Support team's success
Continuous improvement
Take and respond to feedback
Markets & Environment
Reference architectures (best practices)
Avoid silos
Establish guard rails
Allow for flexibility in design (emergent)
Focus on enabling flow
Deploy system experts to instruct (coach)
Central document repository
Design follows needs
Appropriate robustness & performance