24
Sep 2014

The ART of the All-Hands Release Planning Meeting

The ART of the All-Hands Release Planning Meeting

“100 people in a planning meeting sounds like a contradiction in terms.”  Not exactly the supportive sentiment I was hoping to get from my parents. It was the weekend before the big event and I was trying to explain what we were attempting to my parents over dinner. Having freshly returned from +Jean Tabaka's Scaling Agile Collaboration Workshop at +RallyON, I was VERY focused on planning for the big day. Jean had said you should allow 2 hours of preparation for every hour of workshop and up to 5 times this for large planning meetings. Did she mean me personally as ...
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21
Aug 2014

Passing the Baton: The Role of Leadership in Sustainable Agile Transformations

Passing the Baton: The Role of Leadership in Sustainable Agile Transformations

Five years ago, before I had ever heard of an Agile Release Train, I was given a copy of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great by my line manager. Over the years I have read and re-read this book and it continues to be one of my favourites. I even recommended it to the EDW Book Club where we spent a number of hours dissecting the findings and considering how they might be applicable to launching an Agile Release Train. Good to Great is the result of five years of research aimed at understanding the defining characteristics of “companies that made the ...
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23
Jun 2014

Pitching the Pixar Pitch

Pitching the Pixar Pitch

In February 2013, Gojko Adzic hosted a one day workshop with a number of Agile thought leaders who are passionate about “Building the Right Thing”, including Mary Poppendieck, Jeff Patton, Karl Scotland, and Chris Matts among others. After some discussion on the various techniques they had been using such as Impact Mapping, Story Mapping, Lean Canvas, Real Options and Feature Injection, the group decided to focus on the commonalities with a view to creating a shared message: The idea that great results happen when people know why they are doing their work really resonated with me. I’m sure this is a large part of ...
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27
May 2014

Time to catch another train…

Time to catch another train…

The time I spent leading the EDW team at Telstra has been the most incredible experience of my life. I have worked with some truly extraordinary people who made every day fun (even when it was very challenging!) I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given, as a business person, to lead and grow a struggling delivery team into a world class Agile Release Train. As the General Manager responsible for the launch of the EDW Release Train, I was invited to speak at conferences across Australia and the United States. I got to share our story ...
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05
May 2014

Release Train Engineer – Batman or the Wonder Twins?

Release Train Engineer – Batman or the Wonder Twins?

A couple of months back I wrote about launching my first Agile Release Train and some of our specific challenges with creating the right organisational structure. In particular I pointed out that : “For us the Release Train Engineer (RTE) role as articulated in SAFe has never really emerged. “ Instead, the responsibilities spelt out in the SAFe Big Picture as belonging to the RTE have in our case ended up being split across the leads of the three service teams - Pipeline Services, Development Services and Deployment Services. Initially we had envisaged the Development Services Manager would be the ...
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28
Apr 2014

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

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 ...
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02
Apr 2014

Being an Agile Team of Agile Leaders

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. ...
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25
Mar 2014

Communication Cadence – The Heartbeat of Scaled Agile

Communication Cadence – The Heartbeat of Scaled Agile

In my life as a business sponsor of software development programs I spent innumerable hours in program meetings - project status meetings, RAID meetings, Steering Committees, Governance meetings, “Come to Jesus meetings”, you name it. When I was appointed to my first role on the delivery side of the fence, I thought running these meetings was essential. After all every IT General Manager I had ever worked with followed this practice. Everybody hated these meetings, particularly the three hour Monday morning Program Review. 25 people and a 100 page status report made for a long start to the week. The ...
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05
Mar 2014

Launching an Agile Release Train While Standing in a Waterfall

Launching an Agile Release Train While Standing in a Waterfall

Some days I wonder if someone has put the EDW Release Train on a list of "must see" tourist attractions in Melbourne. We have a least two tour groups a month come and visit us to see how we have gone about scaling agile using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Some visitors are from within our company, others are from other IT shops in Melbourne, interstate or even occasionally from the US. Many of our local visitors are at the beginning of their agile journey and they always ask "Where should we start?". The answer, of course, is start where ...
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