Speaking at Lean/Agile US 2017 – February 27-28th

Lean/Agile US 2017 is a new conference taking place in south Florida on February 27-28th. It is an interesting attempt trying to “reboot” some of the missing Lean-oriented agile community.

I was invited to speak about approaches to Scaling Lean/Agile from my perspective and experience as well as give a deeper half-day introduction to SAFe workshop.

The program looks very interesting with lots of long-time friends who happen to be thought-leaders in our small world of post-agile thinking.

If you’re interested in going beyond the classic treatment of Agile/Scrum (And I’m guessing you are if you’re reading my blog…) you’ll find the program and the discussions very refreshing I’m sure.

So – see you in Fort Lauderdale later in February?

LeanAgile US 2017

Yes, SAFe 4.0 includes kanban. But does it include the beauty of Kanban?

One of the things I like in SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework™) 4.0 is the fact that is includes kanban visualization and flow management so explicitly as part of its recommended practices/building blocks at all levels ranging from the Portfolio (which was part of earlier SAFe versions) through the Value Stream and Program all the way to the Team levels.

Together with the explicit and up-front discussion of Lean-Flow principles and Reinertsen’s work that is indeed great news for kanban fans.

A recent comment from one of Yaki Koren my colleague at AgileSparks that “He’s reminded of the beauty of Kanban” (Reading Mike Burrow’s “Kanban from the Inside” while spending most of his days knee-deep in SAFe/Scrum engagements) sparked a realization that has been bubbling up for me though. SAFe 4.0 might include kanban but it doesn’t necessarily include Kanban.

What do I even mean by that? Capital-K Kanban refers to the change method not just the visualization/flow management technique. That method that “Starts with what you have”, “Respects the current way of doing things” and uses flow visualization/management, WIP limitation, and making your current policies explicit together with evolutionary experimentation and feedback loops to help you improve your fitness for your purpose.

Regardless of whether you want to follow the Kanban Method as a change management approach in your context, I think it is important to REMEMBER what it is about, and discern what sort of kanban/Kanban you’re using and what’s the purpose when you use it as part of SAFe (or Scrum or Agile Marketing or whatever). Too many people out there including some Agile Coaches and probably most SAFe Program Consultants probably can’t tell the difference.

If we don’t do anything about it, I’m afraid over time the Kanban definition that is part of SAFe 4.0 will join the Kanban as defined by Scrum practitioners (both miss more or less the same points) to be the canonical definition of Kanban that Lean/Agile practitioners are aware of and the Kanban Method will become a secret/lost technique. You know what, there’s a good chance that’s already the state of affairs.

And it’s a shame. Because even as part of a SAFe implementation it might be very useful to leverage the Kanban Method and use the Kanbans you have at every level as an engine for that “Inspect & Adapt” you’re seeking.

Even with SAFe Start with what you do now; Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change & Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities & titles can all make sense. SAFe takes a slightly different approach about it but it actually respects the “project manager” role for example and fits them into the “Release Train Engineer” role. It can live with component teams even though it prefers Feature teams. Many extreme agilists call it “safe” and closer to waterfall with its approach to periodical planning. That can be seen as a form of “start with what you do now” or “Respect the current process and needs of your surrounding stakeholders/clients”.

And because SAFe starts safe, we need SAFe practitioners to “Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change” from their starting point. We want them to ascend beyond the “Essential SAFe” in an effective focused way. We want them to use flow-focused experiments to evolve towards a better fit-for-purpose. We want them to understand and harness the power of WIP limits to drive not just collaboration but also uncovering your impediments/bottlenecks and dealing with them systematically.

We want SAFe practitioners/consultants to consider how Kanban can help them deal with SAFe theater – with those organizations that follow just the “easy” parts of SAFe, for which PI Planning is just a meeting of managers/stakeholders, where planning is push-based rather than pull-based (Where “No we cannot fit it into this PI”), where dependencies abound because they stayed with the “easy” siloed component teams or even component trains that actually make life really tough when you try to create flow.

Let’s see how this message resonates. If it does, I have some ideas what to do next about it…

 

 

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.

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)

Assessing your need and readiness for the Scaled Agile Framework

Two of the questions I’m frequently asked these days “Do we need the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?” as well as “CAN we (safely) implement SAFe?”. I recently published a self-assessment based on the questions I typically help organizations answer when they’re looking at this.  Continue reading “Assessing your need and readiness for the Scaled Agile Framework”