David Pereira Product Leader with 15+ years of experience. Partner at Value Rebels and interim CPO at omoqo. Almost every product team is trapped somehow; untrapping them is what drives me.

How and why to run a scrum of scrums

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How And Why To Run A Scrum Of Scrums

Collaboration with up to three teams can be coordinated easily, but the challenge starts once you grow beyond that. Don’t panic — there are some simple solutions that can help you.

A common mistake PMs and product leaders make is deploying a scaling framework immediately after passing the three-teams threshold. You’ll cause more problems than solving them — scaling frameworks will add processes you don’t need, which will get in the way of collaboration.

I don’t want to diminish the scaling challenge, but I want to help you understand how to simplify it. That’s where scrum of scrum comes in.

You may be tired of scrum already and don’t want to consider this option, but please stick with me for five more minutes — a scrum of scrums isn’t scrum. It’s a way of collaborating effectively with multiple teams.

Skip ahead:

What is a scrum of scrums?

In simple words, a scrum of scrums is a collaborative meeting between the involved teams on a project. It is an engaging session that keeps teams aligned and in the know with each other.

When scaling teams, you will face the following challenges:

  • Keeping communication effective between teams
  • Dealing with dependencies among multiple teams
  • Ensuring your product has a solid experience and doesn’t become a Frankenstein

Scrum of scrums aims to solve all of these with simple exchanges by team representatives working on the same product.

Suppose you have seven teams working on the same product. Getting everyone in the room to deal with dependencies and other details is unproductive.

With scrum of scrums, each team delegates the responsibility to one team member, and the exchange happens with seven people instead of dozens in this example.

What is the difference between scrum of scrums and scrum?

Honestly, I dislike the name “scrum of scrums” because it connects directly with scrum. That’s misleading. You can use scrum of scrums with any framework, like, scrum, Kanban, LeSS, etc.

As you likely know, scrum is an agile framework with its own set of rules and ceremonies. Though it can be implemented and modified to fit an organization, scrum’s practices are pretty set-in-stone. The scrum of scrums, as I mentioned, can be applied to any project management framework.

The essence of scrum of scrums is not to change the original framework, but to enhance communication and collaboration between multiple times. So, despite its name, scrum of scrums doesn’t equal scrum itself — it’s a valuable add-on that helps us overcome the challenges of scaling.

How to set up a scrum of scrums meeting

When it comes to how you set it up, you won’t find a well-defined way that fits everyone. You’ll need to figure out what works best for you.

My two cents: focus on the problem you want to solve and organize your sessions accordingly.

The standard way of having scrum of scrums is the following:

  • Weekly: every week, one team member attends an hour-long session. The session ensures teams work collaboratively by dealing with dependencies and blockers. Generally, an experienced software engineer or product manager attends this session
  • Daily: right after the last days of the teams, the scrum of scrums members meet to share high-level next steps of each team. It’s essential to keep things at an overview and bring topics requiring other teams’ attention

The above format is simple and productive. It doesn’t overwhelm team members with meetings.

Roles and responsibilities in a scrum of scrums meeting

You will face a dilemma of who should attend the scrum of scrum meetings and who should moderate them. This discussion can get quite heated and lead to poor results. Let me help you avoid that.

Step back and reflect on what you want to solve with scrum of scrums. Products are different — some are more technical and some are not. Depending on your scenario, a technical person may be the best choice to represent the team, but in other scenarios, the product manager may be the best fit. You’ve got to identify what works best for you.

I don’t recommend skipping this decision and ending up in a situation where you have a tech scrum of scrums and a product one. This will for sure create silos. Believe me; you don’t want that.

It’s okay to alternate who attends the session. That’s a team decision to nominate the representative. Just try it out and learn from the results.

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When it comes to moderation, scrum of scrums tends to require little moderation when done well. I’ve seen teams acting autonomously well. But, in other scenarios, an agile coach or scrum master was necessary to keep members focused on the session and address the relevant issues.

Best practices for effective scrum of scrums communication and collaboration

An effective scrum of scrums keeps your teams aligned and reduces dependencies. To reach that, team members need to talk about problems they face related to the collaboration.

Let me first tell you what not to do:

  • Weekly — having a weekly round where everyone shares what they will do, and then immediately wrapping up the session. This won’t get the job done because no exchange happened
  • Daily — using the classic daily format and forgetting to ignore problems impacting other teams

The best practices I recommend are the following:

  • Make it interactive. Instead of doing the above, make a lean coffee for the week. Each team member brings issues they’d like to address in the group, then they vote and talk for eight minutes about each topic, and finally take action. This format is open and forces the scrum of scrums members to bring relevant issues and address them
  • Daily and get to the point. The team can do a high-level round each day of what each team is doing to reach the goal, but they should also clearly share what they need from other teams. For example, “We’re advancing with search optimization, but now we need team green’s support with product data to reach our goal.” Going straight to the point avoids wasting time

How scrum of scrums fits into larger organizations

Scrum of scrums is flexible and you can use it in combination with any framework and organization size, but some aspects will vary.

Effective communication has its limits. If you have 30 agile teams, getting a scrum of scrums session with 30 people won’t be helpful to anyone.

We have a limitation of people we can collaborate with and still connect the dots. I’d suggest limiting it to seven people. Otherwise, communication becomes ineffective. But what do you do with 30 teams, then?

With several teams working on the same product, you need to slice the responsibilities well. It’s impossible to have everyone working on everything. A better way is to split the product into several areas.

To make it easier to understand, let’s take a marketplace product. You could start separating by sellers and buyers. Then, you could again separate by acquisition, activation, and retention. That way, you’d have multiple units of scrum of scrums, each dedicated to specific topics. Each topic would have a maximum of seven teams working on it.

Organizing teams and prioritizing collaboration are essential because everyone suffers when that fails.

Tools and resources for implementing scrum of scrums

Most teams I’ve seen could benefit from having the product manager as the team representative for the scrum of scrums. Now, let’s clarify how product managers can make the session valuable.

Using the right tools will boost your productivity to make the most of scrum of scrums. Although I said that you don’t need much moderation, in a remote session, you’d need a minimum of preparation. Here’s my recommendation:

  1. Digital board: set up a digital board for the scrum of scrums sessions. A lean coffee board with Miro, Mural, or similar tools will get the job done
  2. Share: to speed up the session, share the board beforehand and ask team members to insert the issues they want to discuss.
  3. Run the session: within the board, ready with the required topics, just run the session
  4. Actions: keep a Kanban board with actions visible to everyone, and use the daily to evaluate whether the actions were addressed

Keep it simple and focus on bringing progress to your team. Remember, the goal is to remove obstacles and dependencies.


Scrum is simple and valuable. You can get the most out of it when you ensure the minimum structure is in place and limit collaboration to seven teams.

In some situations, you will realize that teams are tightly coupled, and you’d be forced to run scrum of scrums with 10 or more teams. This will be ineffective. Please, step back, and help the organization reorganize the teams to enable effective collaboration.

Scrum of scrums isn’t a silver bullet for collaboration, but it’s a booster. Therefore, teams must address issues directly with each other when they are blocked. They should not wait for scrum of scrums if they are blocked and cannot progress.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” — Andrew Carnegie

Featured image source: IconScout

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David Pereira Product Leader with 15+ years of experience. Partner at Value Rebels and interim CPO at omoqo. Almost every product team is trapped somehow; untrapping them is what drives me.

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