Agile is disciplined, not reckless.
COVID-19 has been an unwelcome catalyst into fully remote teams, but making optimal use of technology to keep in lockstep with business agility is a powerful illustration of the agile mindset. Recently, a large financial services client pivoted in one week to a fully virtual SAFe® PI-Planning event with great success. ICON Coach Gillian Evans acted as Solution Train Engineer, and so we asked her some questions about what to consider in a virtual PI Planning.
Your first Program Increment (PI) Planning event is on the calendar, and you feel ready to kick-off your first Agile Release Train. It’s time to align the teams on their work for the next three months. No pressure here—PI Planning is only the most pivotal, face-to-face event in the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe).
Do you find that your teams and Business Owners have a hard time digesting PI Objectives, what they are and their purpose in PI Planning? Their PI Objectives can end up sounding more like features (“Add the green widget feature to the purchase screen”), and sometimes they are ignored entirely.
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?
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?
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.
"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.