25
Feb 2014

How I Fell in Love With Impact Mapping…

How I Fell in Love With Impact Mapping…

12 months ago my team was engaged to provide a very rough estimate for a large new reporting and analytics program.  Over the next 5 months we cycled back and forth until eventually the sponsor decided to proceed and nominated a “business lead” to work with us. Excited by the problem, I quickly reached out and invited the nominee to visit our site, meet the development team and understand the work in progress.  From this meeting we established that the program had a number of senior stakeholders with competing priorities, so I offered to help facilitate a workshop with the ...
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12
Feb 2014

Can You Be SAFe Without PI Planning?

Can You Be SAFe Without PI Planning?

The concept of a PI (Program Increment), is generally considered the corner stone of cadence in SAFe. In simple terms, SAFe recommends that a PI consists of between 4 and 6 two-week sprints including a IP sprint (Innovation & Planning.) and each PI commences with a two day "all hands"  PI planning event during which a high level delivery plan is produced for the PI. As readers of this blog would already be aware, when we launched our first release train, we did not have enough funded development work in the pipeline to justify a full blown release planning event, ...
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27
Jan 2014

Unity Day – Creating a One Team Culture

Unity Day – Creating a One Team Culture

It recently occurred to me that I have yet to share the history and context of Unity Day, our often referenced iteration kick off event. Given the creation of Unity Day is actually one of the pivotal moments in the history of the EDW Release Train, it is time to close this gap. For me our first Unity Day marked the beginning of our cultural transformation. The idea was the result of a retrospective with my extended leadership team. It was only weeks after we had decided to establish an Agile Release Train and we had been preparing for our ...
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12
Dec 2013

An Agile Christmas Story

An Agile Christmas Story

Today was the first day of the last iteration for 2013! To celebrate the EDW Release Train had a Christmas theme for Unity Day. Gingerbread Reindeer It all started after our Movember "Ginger-Mo" fund raising event, when one of the team showed me how to turn an upside down gingerbread man into a gingerbread reindeer. The next thing I know we are planning Christmas pudding chocolate crackles, mistletoe cup cakes and meringue Christmas trees. The end result being a Christmas themed Unity Hour with just one condition from from Development Manger, Wayne Palmer: "As long as I don't have to dress up ...
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26
Nov 2013

Switch in Action: Business Change Management Applied to Software Engineering

Switch in Action: Business Change Management Applied to Software Engineering

As regular readers of this blog would know, I recently read Chip & Dan Heath's Switch (which I blogged about here). One Saturday evening in July, whilst only a short way though the book, I found myself thinking of the challenges we had rolling out "Trails", our automated deployment tool. Even though Trails was built by our System Team, using agile methods, including fortnightly demonstrations of working software, the roll out was far from smooth. Would we have been more successful if we had used the Switch Framework? Switch argues that for change to be effective you have to Direct the Rider (our ...
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12
Nov 2013

Measuring Team Happiness

Measuring Team Happiness

When I accepted the role leading the EDW delivery team, I knew my biggest challenge was going to be customer engagement. I had been a customer of the team for a number of years and I am sad to say I would not have recommended their services to anyone. Now the tables had turned, I was the head of the organisation and I had to change the business perception of our ability to deliver if we were going to survive. It is a little known fact that I used to work in Market Research. My portfolio included Brand Research, Customer ...
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22
Oct 2013

Advice for Agile Coaches on “Dealing With” Middle Management

Advice for Agile Coaches on “Dealing With” Middle Management

Over the past few months I have been fortunate to attend a number of Agile Conferences. A theme I observed, particularly in open spaces and social conversations, related to the role of middle management in an Agile Transformation. Questions like: what to do about Middle Management, how to deal with the "frozen middle" and what is the role of an Agile Manager kept coming up.  To be honest the answers given often surprised me. The most common view I heard advocated is "get rid of them". Strangely, I have also found I tend to be the only middle manager in ...
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13
Oct 2013

Book Clubs at Work – Are You Serious?

Book Clubs at Work – Are You Serious?

As mentioned in a prior post, the idea for the EDW Agile Release Train came from reading Dean Leffingwell's Scaling Software Agility. A couple of months after reading the book, there was a restructure and I found myself leading the technology team that I has previously been a customer of.  I was eager to pitch the idea of forming an Agile Release Train to my new team, so I arranged a series of workshops with the key leaders across the group. From these workshops I hoped to achieve shared understanding and agreement on the shape of our future organisation. We kicked ...
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29
Sep 2013

What Happens to Project Managers When You Implement SAFe?

What Happens to Project Managers When You Implement SAFe?

What happens to Project Managers when you implement SAFe? I see this question come up time and again and while I am sure there is more than one answer, in my experience, the role of the Project Manager changes and there are less of them. In the specific case of the EDW Agile Release Train, pre-SAFe there were 18 Project Managers supporting up to 5 projects each. Today there are 4 Portfolio Managers each overseeing around 20 projects. Portfolio Managers are generally aligned to a specific line of business or program of work. They own the relationship with this stakeholder ...
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