Case Study

Joe Justice: How a $149B Company Sped Up 175% with Scrum at Scale

Case Study Snapshot

Trainer Name: Joe Justice
Organization: 3M
Industry: Conglomerate
Org Size: Large
Date: NA
Website: Trainer’s website

Learn how 3M accelerated between 25-175% in Year One


One day, Tesla’s Elon Musk called the CEO of 3M asking for new solar film material. 3M CEO Inge Thulin said that it sounded like a great idea and that they’d put it into the product development queue and Tesla should have it in about 10 years.” Musk responded, “Fantastic. We’ll sell it on real houses in five weeks,” and he hung up the phone.

3M had to make a choice: They could either abandon the project or they’d learn to work differently. The people who were excited created their own team to accomplish it. In four weeks (not five), they had the new solar materials to place on houses.

Because of the success, senior leaders at 3M thought, “What if we create more teams like this?”

That’s when the team from Scrum @ Scale entered to help. The key success factors involved were better backlog refinement, MetaScrum, and scaling ground rules.

Three-hundred cross-functional initiative-completion teams were created with 1,500 staff (approx. 4.5% of the company). A master backlog was split to determine how many teams could work in parallel, breaking complex products into manageable independent functional elements.

People/Teams were invited to work on what they wanted to, with certain ground rules to keep things moving. These rules included focusing on priorities from senior management, allowing no more than five people to meet at a time to speed up decisions, and making demos integrated tests.

Rotating Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Development Team members, and ability to trade players across teams each sprint motivated teams to pull diverse missions and goals from the MetaScrum backlog. (Side note: Teams loved the option but rarely exercised it – only two teams traded one player during Year One.) Many teams rotated POs and SMs every sprint to keep morale high.

From one phone call from an important client, 3M learned to pivot into business agility, which resulted in huge success for the company as well as solar innovation to help the planet.

Key Results

  • 3M accelerated between 25-175% in Year One
  • The stock price climbed from $84B to $149B
  •  MetaScrum succeeded in engaging 1,500 staff members with low pressure
  • Rotating Chief Product Owners and Scrum of Scrums Masters from the existing pool of POs and SMs avoided an additional layer of hierarchy to shorten the feedback loop
  • Teams managed their own budget from a general pool, thereby saving the company money
  • By allowing the staff to rotate within projects and roles, people felt so valued that they turned down job offers in a hotly competitive market

Who Is Joe Justice

Joe Justice works globally as an interim executive for agile organizations, bringing multinational companies increased return on capital. His teams have held 4 world records. He is a TEDx speaker, guest lecturer at both MIT and Oxford University in England, featured in Forbes 5 times to date including as owner of a “Company to watch” by Forbes Billionaire Club, cited in more than 6 business paperbacks and hardcovers, the subject of a Discovery Channel mini-documentary for his work creating the disciplines Extreme Manufacturing, Scrum@Hardware, The Justice Method, and has worked directly for 6 years with the co-creator of Scrum, Dr. Jeff Sutherland.

Joe has worked with all of the top 3 military and defense contractors, autonomous and smart road technologies, ultra-lightweight structures, guest lectured at UC Berkeley, MIT, on behalf of Carnegie Melon, CU Denver, The University of Washington, spoken at Google, Microsoft, Zynga, Lockheed Martin, HP Labs, The Royal Bank of Canada, Pictet bank, and others. Joe’s work has been featured in Forbes, Harvard Business Review, CNN Money, the Discovery Channel, and others.