Friday, 21 April 2017

Thursday, 13 April 2017

SAFe PI Planning Quick-Start Style

The schedule for the two-day PI Planning event, days five and six of the 6-day quick-start, was pretty much textbook SAFe. Given I have blogged about PI Planning in the past, let’s skip the blow by blow description of PI Planning and focus on the highlights from this particular Agile Release Train's first PI Planning event.

Firstly the opening messages set the perfect tone for the 2-days. The RTE opened the event with: "It’s been an epic few days and we are here now. PI Planning.  We are here and we are doing it and it’s awesome!  Now it’s about the real work!" 

Their executive sponsor was equally as passionate: "I think it is great you guys are doing this and making the 6-day investment. I'm glad this team is embracing the change and wanting to do things differently. It’s going to be bumpy but that’s ok. I'm excited to see what all these blank boards are going to turn into."

Teams used foam boards for their plans instead of post-it pads
so nothing would need to be stuck  upon the walls.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Just-in-time Training for an Agile Release Train Quick-Start

The three key ingredients in any ART launch are: teams, a well defined, force ranked feature level program backlog and the knowledge to execute in a lean and agile manner. In the case of the A&I ART, we now had teams and a backlog, we just needed the knowledge. This is where the SAFe for Teams training and the Scrum Master and Product Owner Orientation workshops came in.

Monday morning the teams returned to same venue we had used for the self-selection event, to commence two-days of SAFe for Teams training. I was thrilled that the organisation had taken our guidance and had gone all in for the event. Even the department head attended the entire two days.

There is something about all the teams on a train, including the leadership team, learning together, with their Scrum Masters and Product Owners that is just magical. Having spent many years convinced that training circa 100 people at once was nuts, then going through the process a number of times, I have to say I was wrong. If Harvard Professor J. Richard Hackman is to be believed, 30% of a team’s eventual performance is dependent on the initial launch of the team. Personally I cannot think of a better way to launch a team of teams than two days learning together.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Facilitating Squadification for a SAFe Agile Release Train

The squadification day had arrived! We had management buy in to allowing people to self-select into teams and a structure for our new new Agile Release Train (ART). I turned up with my Time Timer in tow ready to facilitate what I hoped would be a great beginning for this brand new ART.

Over the course of the week leading up to the self self-selection, the thought of launching a new ART with no experienced Scrum Masters had been on my mind. How we would find the right people for those Scrum Master roles? I tend to choose what I read based on what is on my mind, so I had picked up my copy of  +Geoff Watts's Scrum Mastery and reread a few chapters on my flights to and from Sydney that week.

I took two bright ideas away from this: (1) we had to reinforce the message at self-selection that the Scrum Master role “holds no authority", and (2) when asked to nominate a Scrum Master teams tend to know instinctively who will be the right fit. Inspired by this my first task on the day of the self-selection event was to track down the Release Train Engineers (RTEs) and suggest that rather than letting individuals self-select into the Scrum Master role we let the teams nominate their Scrum Master after the squads had been formed. They were agreeable so that became the new plan.

Now we had to get organised. Flip charts were drawn up for each squad and a Product Owner’s photo added. Everyone else's photos were laid out on a trestle table at the front of the room.  By 9:15am we had almost  full house, so we decided to kick off. I opened with a quick run through of the agenda for the day, followed by the lead RTE who set the scene for why they had chosen to use self-selection as the approach to forming teams. Then it was back to me to run through the logistics for the morning.


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Preparing for Team Self-Selection with SAFe & Structuring the ART

Those who know me will not be at all surprised to learn the first thing I did once there was agreement to use self-selection as the approach to forming teams for the A&I Agile Release Train was buy and read +Sandy Mamoli's book Creating Great Teams: How Self-Selection Lets People Excel. I had heard Sandy talk on the topic some time back and my colleague +Mark Richards had previously used the technique with +Andy Kelk at Australia Post, so I wasn't walking in blind.  My experiences with watching people bastardising SAFe made me want try and stick as closely to Sandy's guidance as possible. Specifically we chose to keep the number of constraints placed on the teams to the absolute minimum. In hindsight, I may have been a little naive on this front, but more on that later.