Agile Pods vs Scrum Teams

Last post 01:21 pm September 15, 2021
by Priya Kaushal
7 replies
07:16 pm November 8, 2019


My company is going down the Pod route and was trying to understand the difference between Pods and Scrum Teams. Anyone have any insight to clarify the two?


09:38 pm November 8, 2019

Hey Peter,

Check out this link below. It gives a great idea of what an Agile Pod is. In comparing the 2, there are a few key differences but they are both very similar. They are both small (less than 10), they both self-organize as far as how they will tackle their chosen work, and they both have 3 roles. 

Differences are:

  • Pods are designed by external folks based on the needs to fulfill the requirements. Scrum Teams self-organize from the ground up.
  • Pods change as needed per the requirements and skillset. Scrum Teams are cross-functional and long-lived.
  • Pods have a Pod Leader, Core Team, and Part-Time Specialists. Scrum Teams have a Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team

There are more similarities and differences but I'll let you do some research on your own for that.

08:54 am November 9, 2019

Does your company know why it is choosing pods?

Is the company providing sufficient guidance without impeding the abilities of groups of people to self-organize?

11:32 am November 9, 2019

Thanks for the info and link, Curtis. I will read through it

Simon - It is what our Chief Digital Officer and a consulting firm wants to use. No other rationale was given other than let's go agile. I am going to met with one of the Pod Leaders and see what they are doing. I will post more after that meeting. Thanks!

02:07 pm November 11, 2019

I understand you may not have the authority to do so but the concept of Agile Pods, sure doesn't seem empowering to me. Agile without empowered team members is destined to fail and ultimately be a waste of potentially millions of dollars.

05:07 pm November 12, 2019

i wasn't familiar with the concept of Agile Pods before, but based on the link provided (thanks Curtis), it doesn't seem to be a wise practice.

Unless my understanding is incorrect, it promotes a traditional "plug-n-play" approach towards resources, where pods are temporarily formed based on individual skills and work requirements.   This strategy does not promote stable teams, knowledge transfer, or cross training, and reinforces single points of failure around specialization.

06:01 pm January 6, 2020

Hi Peter, 

I read what your digital Officer said based on the consulting firms recommendations

"let's go agile"

I had to write as it made me chuckle. It's like humpty dumpty screaming "lets sit on a wall because I was told to".

But all jokes aside and from Scrum master to Scrum master, Agile Pods (to me) doesn't look like a great idea as it seems a bit messy, removes self organisation due to some members being core members and others being part time members (which could cause unforeseen impediments) and then the Pod leader seeming to function like a Scrum master (but not quite), but having to prioritise work with the business management team (So is the pod leader like a Scrum master or like a Product Owner)

However, now that it's been a month I was wondering what you think regarding your question? If you are still at the same place as you were when you wrote the initial question I would speak to the consultancy who suggested the move, research Agile Pods and how they compare to Scrum. However, if none of that is possible I did read some info regarding Pods within the link which Curtis Slough supplied:

"the first few weeks can be empowering and taxing at the same time. When our team got the responsibility to plan out the complete release cycle, requirements, design, and delivery schedule, participating in all those discussions brought exposure and a broader perspective to all the team members. Though the planning, triages, and prioritizing were new to most team members, once we got the hang of it, it actually felt energizing"

So if you are struggling after another month then hang in there, but let someone know and if your not struggling then give yourself a thumbs up.

11:40 am September 15, 2021

I do not agree with the concept of 'Agile Pods' itself. I don't see any value in Pods structure. Why would anyone even need Agile Pods? If we thoroughly understand the concept of scrum teams and if understand scrum framework (and preferably nexus framework as well) in its entirety then anything like 'Agile Pod' would not be needed at all.

This whole Agile Pod idea seems to me tweaking the Agile methodology as per your convenience, creating some fancy terms out of it like 'Pod Leader' and ultimately doing traditional management. This is nothing but a dysfunction.

'Let's go Agile' should not mean 'We do what others do'. Every organization and every product is different. We need to carefully analyze what will work best in our scenario. If anything worked in one organization, then its not necessary that it will work in other organization as well. There are lot of companies who tried to adopt spotify model and failed miserably. Why? Because, they never understood the concept behind it. They just started using fancy terms, restructured the teams, and followed the model blindly without changing their culture & mindset.