All politics about fake news aside (PLEASE!), I’ve heard a growing number of reports, sighs and cries about Fake Agile. It’s frustrating when people just don’t get it, especially when they think they do. We can point fingers and vilify those who think differently—or we can try to understand why this “us vs them” mindset is splintering the Agile community. After all, isn’t that what a true Agilist would do: take an empirical and collaborative approach?
Agile is disciplined; not reckless.
“That’s not how we do things here.”
“That will never work for us.”
“That’s not our culture.”
Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve heard or even said one of these phrases before. If so, you might be trudging through a Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe) Transformation.
If you think that your SAFe Transformation is doomed to fail because your organization is unique—so unique that industry best practices couldn’t possibly apply to you—then let’s dispel that myth right now. That's not why SAFe Transformations fail. Sure, context matters, but at the end of the day, large enterprises across all industries have the same problems.
...Because the world is moving too fast not to be Agile!
At the XP 2002 Conference, The Standish Group showcased their study of how often features were used in a typical system. According to the results, features were used “often” or “always” only 20% of the time. 15 years later in 2017, after the software development world had largely embraced incremental delivery methods, the Standish Group conducted the same study again. The result? Still only 20% of features were used “often." There was little to no significant change.
If you’re a newly minted SAFe Program Consultant (SPC), then congratulations! After all your agile/project/program management experience and diligent studying to pass a difficult exam, you deserve a sense of accomplishment. However, as you may already suspect, your journey has only just begun. To be an effective SPC for years to come, more will be required.
Today’s topic is near and dear to my heart. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and observe several great SPCs during the last five years, and I’ve learned nuances and success patterns for the multifaceted endeavor of becoming a great SPC.
Have you ever said a word to someone, let’s say “puppy,” and got a positive reaction from one person, and a negative reaction from someone else? Why is that? It’s the same word! It turns out there are two types of meanings to words, and it’s the second type that makes all the difference in the world.
A colleague suggested I write this article, and I quickly agreed, thinking to myself, “No sweat! There are so many little things that can make a big difference. I can type this out in no time.”
Now pause. Go back and review that last thought. Do you see a flaw in my logic here? “There are so many little things...I can type this out in no time.” Did I really think a long list of things would make this task any easier? That it would make the writing process fly by?
You’re a new SPC gearing up to teach your first class in the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®), i.e., formal training with lots of slides. You’re probably a bit nervous, maybe unsure about how to present all this information in an engaging, relevant way.
Want some advice? Preparation is key to success. Take it from two battle-hardened SAFe veterans who’ve taught thousands of students—going in prepared gives you greater self-confidence, more flexibility, and an opportunity to be more strategic with what you and your students will get out of the class. The end result? Grateful students who walk away feeling confident that SAFe will work for their organization, and maybe even inspired to teach their own classes someday.
OK, you’re an RTE or an SPC in the IP iteration at the end of your PI. You’re getting ready to run the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) Inspect and Adapt (I&A) Workshop, and it seems a bit daunting. It’s big. It’s a bit complicated. It’s got lots of people. Maybe you’re wondering if it’s even worth it. Trust me, it is. And I promise that an I&A is easier than it seems.
As a leader, how do you create an environment that is nimble enough to thrive in an era of digital disruption?
Certainly not through “Command and Control,” which has been the prevailing management model for decades. Nothing limits creativity or the growth of new leadership quite like an “I know best” attitude. So what’s a better alternative?
"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."
— Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1532)
SAFe® is all the rage, folks. With over 300,000 trained SAFe practitioners in demand all over the globe, including at over 70% of Fortune 100 companies, The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is by far the most popular framework for scaling agile. Considering that Scaled Agile, Inc. started in 2010, this growth is no small feat. SAFe has a positive track record as the most viable framework for better solution delivery (just see one of their 50+ case studies), and many businesses may view it as the silver bullet to solve their modern value delivery problems.
It’s in our instinct to ‘seek the path of least resistance’, and SAFe could very well be the easiest, most clearly defined way to scale agile. Consequently, it’s common to enter a SAFe Transformation with a set of false expectations. Whether you’re considering SAFe or just starting the journey, my goal is to help you prepare for reality.