Are your Product-Owners cross-functional enough?

Improving teams/organizational flexibility/versatility is a topic that comes up often in my engagements. This includes discussion of T-shaped people/teams, Collective Ownership, Code Stewardship, Full-stack-developers and the like. I typically refer to Henrik’s classic (and recently my “scaled” version ).
So let’s assume you improve the agile team flexibility which means you can “swarm” a couple of teams to areas in high demand. How do you deal with their product ownership/management in those cases?
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My Agile 2016 Talk – How to make SAFe really SAFE Scaling Agile using Pull/Invite rather than Push/Mandate

Here are the final slides (including live session polling data) from my Agile 2016 talk last week. If you want to read deeper into this I suggest you look at my blog series from earlier this year.

PS Sadly enough the session wasn’t recorded. If you’re interested in to see this talk leave me a comment here. If there’s enough interest I might do a webinar/periscope/whatever at some point.

Develop on Cadence – Deliver on Demand – The Agile Marketing Version

Recently I participated in a steering discussion for one of the large-scale agile marketing implementations I’m consulting. We’re using a marketing variant of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) there – including planning and executing on a quarterly cadence using Program Increments (PIs).

A key struggle that surfaced was: “Planning the quarter just a week or two before it starts is way too late for us since we have so many long-lead-time activities that support us – things like media buys & field event logistics. Can we plan the quarter earlier in the quarter? Should we consider planning the quarter a quarter in advance? “

My take on this is that when we plan the Program Increment we plan whatever work we need to do in that time period. Some of that work will be delivered throughout the quarter & some would be delivered in the next quarter or even later (e.g. when working on the huge annual customer event). The key question to ask is from a Cost of Delay perspective when will we reach the last reponsible moment to start developing the campaign/program and if that moment is in the upcoming quarter it needs to be considered as part of the planning.

Another way to look at some of these activities is as Enablers (Another SAFe concept) – we do them now to enable us to deliver later. At each point in time some of our capacity would be dedicated to the “Runway” which is work that enables later delivery. (This is called Architectural Runway in canonical SAFe but that name is not very appropriate to the Marketing world I guess…).

NOTE – If we find too much of our capacity is dedicated to “Runway” activities it is an indication that our time to market is probably quite long since most deliveries require multiple quarters to mature. We should look at the main reasons we need to use the “Runway” and start to think about ways to minimize the lead time/overheads associated with them.

An example – Purchasing Media for the whole year due to “Economies of Scale”. Does that mean we need to plan media usage for all campaigns almost a year in advance? Or is there an effective way to purchase the media and figure out the most effective use once we actually start to plan out the details for each campaign/activity throughout the year?

This is just one example of the “Lost In Translation” effect when applying Agile in Marketing. What I find helps is remembering the principles/models (That’s part of my role here – making sure people understand lean/agile deeper – beyond the superficial Scrum Master/Sprint/Agile Team level).

Any thoughts?

My Agile 2016 session – How to make SAFe implementation really SAFE

I’m excited to be heading to Agile 2016. I’ll be in Atlanta all week and will talk about SAFER SAFe implementations on Wednesday (See the full session description below)

This will be my first time attending/speaking at the Agile Alliance annual conference. In the past it was a tough time to travel to the US smack in the middle of the summer vacation in Israel. But now it is both an easier travel coming from Boston and I also get the opportunity to take the family along and visit friends and family in the area.

I’m looking forward to the big agile conference experience. Looking forward to meet long-time friends and make new ones as well as have some interesting bizdev discussions.

Are you coming to Atlanta? If you want to meet/catchup contact me on twitter or leave me a comment here or on the conference scheduling/social app where you can also see the sessions I’m thinking of attending.

Hope to see you there!

 

Wednesday, July 27 • 3:45pm – 5:00pm

 

Abstract:
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe(tm)) is a powerful and popular framework for implementing agile at large scale across the enterprise.
In this talk we will examine some dangerous Agile at Scale implementation anti-patterns from real-world cases I’ve been involved in such as:

  • Planned/Mandate-based implementation across the enterprise – Pushing implementations onto people regardless of their interest/motivation to change.
  • Prescribed-based implementation – Either by the book or as designed by a central committee or an external consultant.
  • Total focus on practices starting from training all the way through assessment/metrics and lack of attention to spirit/principles.
  • Expecting every group in the organization to work the same way and implement change the same way.

We will then look at some healthier alternatives I used to drive more successful & sustainable change in several organizations. You will learn some concrete techniques that help live up to the Lean/Agile principles of respecting and engaging people.
Using SAFe as the specific backdrop for discussion, we will review field-proven ideas such as pull-based crossing the chasm approach to implementation, use of open space as part of the different SAFe ceremonies, and how Open Space Agility can combine with SAFe.
Note that the ideas and practices have also been tried with other Scaled Agile approaches such as Enterprise Kanban, LeSS.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Get familiar with some scaled agile implementation anti-patterns related to push/mandate.
  • Understand when to choose pull/invitation as a healthier more sustainable and successful alternative.
  • Get some concrete techniques to bring pull/invitation into a scaled agile implementation approach – focusing on SAFe 1-2-3 implementation approach specifically.
  • Have a high-level understanding of how to implement SAFe using “Open Space Technology”.
  • Understand how to apply these ideas to any Scaled Agile approach (not just SAFe)

Guest Post – 5 Guiding Principles To Using Agile In Research-Intensive Software Environments

Agile Meets Research / Data Scientists

As agile spreads wider and wider I often get to work with researchers (a.k.a Data Scientists) working closely with product development. When going agile these people struggle to figure out how it fits their unique style of work. One of those researchers I encountered on an Advanced Analytics group in Intel was Shahar. We had a chat recently and I asked him if he would be so kind to write a guest post describing his perspective. And he delivered! If you’re a researcher trying to make agile work or you’re implementing agile and you’re trying to help your researchers figure it out, this should be interesting!

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