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.
A great talk today (this is round 2), with Dave Snowden (round 1 was on 04/20), who took on some provocative and pretty powerful questions. All points that Dave made were strong.
Here is one that resonated really strong (the quote in blue below is semi-transcribed/paraphrased, starting from about 4 min 20 sec in the video recording below):
“…SAFe is perfect for big consultancy firms… With big consultancies, when the ratio between a principal and a doer (partner and consultant) is up to about from 1:5 to 1:10 – apprentice model. With ratio of above 1:15 – it becomes an industrial model (you have to “feed” a lot of people), when you get more structured processes and recipes.
This is why big consultancies want high utilization and long-term projects, [using] Six Sigma, BPR, SAP…etc.
What they like is a massive roll out, with lots of people, over a long period of time.
What they DONT like, are small improvements in the present. …So you [if you are a client company] are better off working with small consultancies, not big consultancies….“.
Author’s note: This is how a client-company can become a subject to “triple taxation“. Avoid this.
David Snowden divides his time between two roles: founder Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge and the founder and Director of the Centre for Applied Complexity at the University of Wales. His work is international in nature and covers government and industry looking at complex issues relating to strategy, organisational decision making and decision making. He has pioneered a science based approach to organisations drawing on anthropology, neuroscience and complex adaptive systems theory. He is a popular and passionate keynote speaker on a range of subjects, and is well known for his pragmatic cynicism and iconoclastic style.
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”?
An accomplished senior technology leader in the financial services industry, Al Youssef shares his views on some LeSS experiments.
Play Recording below:
Questions raised (copied verbatim from Zoom chat script):
For enterprise projects, compare and contract LeSS vs SaFE 5.0 -Were the automated tests all functional? or did you also have performance testing? Did you create these as part of your development process or as a separate project?
1n the Machine Learning Data Science Space, are there any unique ways needed manage these projects? -Since their change to LeSS where are they in your adoption? Also how many IY Mangers do they have in his organization. Why I ask? because Craig Larman states 1 IT Manger to 100 scrum team members.
What did you do to change structure to support a culture focused on technical practices and provide safety for craftsmanship. (i.e. How did you avoid the contract game? How did you ensure any functional managers were focused on serving those they had the privilege to lead? What did you do about the force ranked performance management system? How flat did you make the development organization? Did you modify the outsourcing arrangements, if so how? What have you done to ensure the technical design authority members on the various feature teams are not counterproductive to self-organization within each feature team?)
With only one backlog…how do you deal with situation where the tasks do not match with technical capabilities of the available teams? -One common code base: does it mean you practice a trunk based development?
How do you handle the integration testing – is there any coordination done from outside of the teams or is it somehow responsibility of the feature teams to raise their hands when they feel that some testing is not covering some of their features? -Could you describe the scope of the platform a bit more? What are broadly its capabilities? Did the team also have to build the IaC layer?
What do you do to prepare your developers to interact effectively with your design authorities and architects? -How did you bring your business stakeholders on the journey to identify and train their team members to bring them in to the role? Do they report to a manager in technology or the business?
How do you measure the business value of what is produced as a data team? Do you observe the end to end value?
Are your teams all full-stack developers, or do you still have specialized technical roles within the pods? -How does the line organization look like (resource pools?) and how do you shape the mid- / long-term skill profile of the IT department? – are the agile team members part of some resource pool organizations or is the agile team also their home from line perspective?
One of the most powerful techniques to understand organizational design and dynamics is to model them, with your colleagues, in front of a white board. Not according to ‘best practices and cook books 😉 but based deep system thinking and shared understanding, by all participants.
But what if you cannot get together in front of a white board???
Miro Board In combination with Zoom (shared session & team rooms), will give you an opportunity to collaborate on-line – together by diverging into teams and converging in a large group. Lets try this together!
Since Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) is NOT a ‘methodology’ or ‘set of tools’ but an organizational design framework, system modelling is its critical part. But even if it was not for LeSS, understanding the way your system (e.g. enterprise) behaves could be very powerful.
Please, note, once you learn this stuff, you will not be able to ‘unlearn’ it and your knowledge could be viewed by others, as dangerous 😉 (and frustrating to you).
In this session, we will try bringing real life system modelling conversations (please, see examples of images from past LeSS training below to gain understanding) into a virtual session.