I (Gene here) had the pleasure of having a candid, unscripted Conversation About SAFe, with Tom Mellor – one of the early days’ Certified Scrum Trainers (CST). Tom openly shared some of his personal knowledge and views about SAFe, much of which was based on Tom’s many years in the industry experience and the privilege of personally knowing early agile adopters. We tried to keep our conversation as objective and as unbiased as possible.
The topics we discussed:
SAFe relevance to RUP
SAFe relevance to Scrum and agile
Overall market success/brilliance of SAFe
SAFe strategic alignment with tooling companies
SAFe, as a framework of choice by large consultancies (“Why?”)
Economics of SAFe adoption: client companies vs. SAFe
What is Undone Department?
“Undone department—This department, ideally, does not exist.
Unfortunately, sometimes the teams are not yet able to create a true shippable increment every Sprint. This is reflected by their “Definition of Done” not being equal to “Potentially Shippable.” The difference between them is called Undone Work. Someone needs to do this Undone Work, and a common “solution” is to create separate groups that pick up the “undone work”—the undone department. More on this in the Definition of Done chapter.
Undone departments such as test, QA, architecture, or business analysis groups should never exist in the smaller LeSS framework groups; rather they should be integrated into the teams from the start. On the other hand, we unfortunately still frequently see an operations or production undone department in LeSS adoptions, as they often cross organizational boundaries.
A goal in every LeSS adoption is to remove the undone department. How long will this take? The answer is highly dependent on how fast the organization improves its capability.” – from the 3rd LeSS book (Large Scale Scrum: More with LeSS)
On 05/12, a visionary pragmatist, Diana Larsen is co-founder, Chief Connector and a principal coach, consultant, and mentor at the Agile Fluency® Project spoke to Large Scale Scrum Meetup of NYC. Diana co-authored the books Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great; Liftoff: Start and Sustain Successful Agile Teams; Five Rules for Accelerated Learning. She co-originated the Agile Fluency® model and co-authored the eBook, The Agile Fluency Model: A Brief Guide to Success with Agile.
Some of the most salient points in the presentation:
Are you relying on quality talent to assist you with your agile transformations?: a quick (~10 min) recap of Gene’s presentation in Phoenix, AZ about the most classic dysfunctions related to the coaching profession
Misunderstanding of agile coaching role – Why organizations get this part mostly wrong?
Talent dilution, industry-wide – Why are there so many inexperienced agile coaches in the market?
“Bad business“ – Why reliance on staffing firms and head-hunting agencies for agile talent procurement causes more harm than good?
Fallacies of big solutions – Why Big Bangs and ‘all–at-once’ transformation attempts are ineffective?
Centralized coaching towers – Why creating ‘Centers of Excellence’ and enforcing ‘best practices’ and ‘operational models’ leads to local optimization? Why placing such ‘org constructs’ inside ‘standard’ power structures (e.g. Architecture tower, PMO) further worsens the situation, while jeopardizing individual safety?
Rebuilding vertical organizational towers horizontally – Why ‘flipping’ conventional functional areas of control (e.g. QA department, BA group, PMO) on their side and calling them ‘Communities of Practice (CoP)”/chapters/guilds, while preserving reporting lines and other conventional dynamics (e.g. still doing individual performance appraisals by community/chapter/guild, leads to negative outcomes) is the same, as “rearranging deck seats on Titanic”?
Another engaging and highly interactive Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) virtual class is complete. People attended from many corners of the map: UK, USA, Canada, Argentina, Spain, Kuwait, Australia. The students engaged in a highly interactive collaboration, with questions and exercises, using Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) technique, exploring the following topics: Agile Big-Bangs, Internal Contracts, Local Optimization, Product Definition, Fake Projects/Programs/Portfolios, Scrum Master Role, Fooling with Tooling. Note: the below graphics are not conclusive decisions or ‘best practices’. They are just an example of brainstorming, based on each teams members’ experience.
System Modelling: Agile Big-Bangs
System Modelling: Internal Contracts
System Modelling: Local Optimization
System Modelling: Product Definition
System Modelling: Scrum Master Role
System Modelling: Fooling With Tooling
System Modelling: Fake Projects, Programs, Portfolios
Dr. Wolfgang Richter is the founder and CEO of JIPP.IT GmbH (https://www.jipp.it/), an Agile Change Agency. He is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified LeSS Trainer (CLT) and Coach and works with Scrum and Agile Methods since 1998. He and his team specializes in improving processes and structures by using agile methods and principles. Agile Transformations is one of the main activities. Scrum and LeSS are his preferred approaches for internal and customer driven projects.
This is going to be a fun story. Lots of IRONY.
When an organization hits Large-Scale Scrum, it is most likely to begin with a fake adoption. Scaling per sé is not easy. And it is not recommended. However, large enterprises rarely have a choice. So what can be done to handle the burden of scaling? Which pitfalls can be observed regularly? What is against all odds likely to succeed?
Michael Jamesis a software process mentor, team coach, and Scrum trainer with skills in Product Ownership (business), Scrum Mastery (facilitation), and the development team engineering practices (TDD, refactoring, continuous integration, pair programming) that allow Scrum to work. MJ has been involved with LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) longer than anyone else on the US West Coast. He is a recovering “software architect” with programming experience back to the late 1970s, and including control systems for aircraft and spacecraft
Edited Version (about 32 minutes)
Original Version (about 60 minutes)
We often hear that the Agile approach to multi-team development is to pre-divide products into small independent pieces for different teams to work on, perhaps using implementation approaches such as microservices and coordination approaches such as “Scrum of Scrums.” This advice illustrates widespread blind spots in the Agile coaching and training community. We will challenge those in this online discussion.
To get the most out of this session, we suggest reading the comic book that went viral Why “Scrum” Isn’t Making Your Company Very Agile, How Misconceptions About The Product Owner Role Harm Your Organization, And What To Do About It.