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.
Let’s consider a common request from Agile Transformation teams and PMO offices: Have you assessed the Agile maturity of your teams?
This seems like a reasonable ask—after all, the teams are the ones responsible for creating the shippable software every two weeks. But do team-based metrics tell the whole story?
Now consider this: Is it possible for teams (even high performing teams) to be limited by the Agility of their executives, stakeholders, managers, and shared services?
Connecting the Dots Between Goals and Outcomes
In line with the SAFe® Core Values, PI Objectives create a synergistic effect between business and IT, resulting in alignment, transparency, and efficient program execution. This synergy manifests itself during the PI Planning event and continues throughout the PI Cycle as value delivered is demonstarted to the business incrementally. It has the ancillary benefit of increasing the quality of backlog items socialized to teams as part of PI Planning readiness.
Check out Charlene's presentation and gain an appreciation for how Business Value Scoring provides evidence on the amount of synergy acheived.
Program execution is one of the four SAFe® Core Values. To achieve successful program execution, organizations need an efficient system that defines the backlogs of the value to be delivered, the roles that manage them, and the proper timelines for refinement at every level of SAFe. Understanding that we are already doing some form of preparedness today, with our own checklists and timelines being more ad hoc, this article illustrates how to connect the levels to enable ‘continuous Program Increment (PI) readiness.’ This requires contemplating these processes to provide an organized thread aligning them and the people using them to make them more cohesive. To pursue this, we adopt Principle #2, Apply Systems Thinking.