Monday, 28 April 2014

You Want to Train Everyone? Don’t Be Ridiculous!

Those familiar with SAFe may have noticed that we did not launch our Agile Release Train with a Quick Start. One reason for this is that we started our train before the first SPC class was held and flying +Dean Leffingwell to Melbourne to launch our train exceeded my non existent consulting budget!  However, it was not just SAFe training that we overlooked. We provided no class room training at all to the newly formed train. We assumed most of the team had been on Agile Fundamentals and used Unity Day as an opportunity for learning through play.

Almost a full year after we launched our first Agile Release Train, I travelled to Boulder, Colorado for the SPC certification class being led by +Dean Leffingwell.  I returned from Boulder full of energy and bright ideas on how to improve our Release Train and towards the top of the list was running SAFe training for everyone. However, if last year had a theme it was deliver, deliver, deliver and taking time out to train people never really seemed practical. As the year came to a close and we started scheduling the Christmas break, my leadership team decided I should run SAFe Scrum XP the first two days of the new year. I squirmed. It had been 10 years since I had delivered any formal training. Did I still have what it takes? What if I made a fool of myself? While I was panicking, the team was planning and the next thing I knew it was a done deal!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Being an Agile Team of Agile Leaders

When introducing agile, it is easy for management to expect their teams to change while not truly understanding what this change means on a day to day practical level. Leaders runs the risk of confusing their understanding of the theory with a true appreciation of what it means to operate as an agile team. I often see this manifested in the traditional project plan, complete with a Gantt chart, that outlines how an organisation will transition to agile.

As part of establishing the EDW Release Train, our coach +Mark Richards encouraged my new leadership team to operate as an agile team. At first we mobilised around preparing for our first PSI planning event. We had a Kanban board with all the tasks that we needed to complete and daily stand ups, but we didn’t have the discipline to make the time to action the tasks! To this day +Mark loves to tell the story of our zero velocity first iteration! Personally, it never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is to get agile leaders to operate as an agile team. It would seem we were much better at instructing others on how to be agile than we were at walking the talk!