22
Jul 2019

Baseline Metrics Before You Start

If you do nothing else before you launch your Agile Release Train (ART) baseline your metrics! At some point, in the not too distant future, you are going to be asked, how do you know your Agile Release Train is making a difference? For you the answer might be obvious - it just feels better. It was very much that way for me with my first ART. Metrics weren’t the first indicator that things were getting better, it was the changes in behaviour. When I first took over the EDW delivery organisation, my days were spent dealing with escalations, trying ...
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30
Jun 2019

Understanding Cost in a SAFe World

In a textbook SAFe implementation, Lean Portfolio Management allocated a budget to each Value Stream and consequently each Agile Release Train (ART). The ART’s Product Manager works with the ART’s stakeholders to priorities the work that consumes that budget. The ART plans and executes against these priorities and no one worries about how much it costs to deliver any specific feature. However, there is often a difference between the ideal SAFe implementation and your current reality and one of those differences can be an expectation that the ART can articulate the cost of delivering a given feature. This is especially likely ...
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31
Jan 2019

Weighted Velocity: An Approach to Addressing the Impact of Planned and Unplanned Leave on Yesterday’s Weather

Over the past few years much has been written and tweeted about the evils of agile estimation (#noestimates). There has also been much consternation amongst agilists with respect to SAFe’s normalized estimation approach. However, for most of my large enterprise clients the need to estimate for the purposes of planning is a practical necessity and SAFe’s normalised estimation is a useful tool, when used as intended.  Given this, I have chosen to put the debates about the evils of estimation and normalized story points to one side and instead focus on how we might be able to help teams and Agile ...
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31
Aug 2018

Podcast: Why Agile Transformations Fail

At the inaugural SAFe Regional Summit in Frankfurt, I was luck enough to chat with Gez Smith about Why Agile Transformations Fail (and what you can do to prevent it...) We discuss whether lean is Japanese, the role of discipline in an agile adoption and the tension between discipline and autonomy, the potential inter-relationship of liberalism and agile, the need for an initial suspension of disbelief, and how every compromise you make at the start you are doomed to repeat forever.Check it out the podcast here.
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31
Aug 2017

SAFe from the Trenches @ Agile Australia

In June, Pretty Agile partnered with Scaled Agile Inc. to sponsor the 9th Agile Australia conference. Included in this sponsorship arrangement was an opportunity to deliver a product demonstration to conference attendees. Given Scaled Agile Inc. are the creators of the Scaled AgileFramework and Pretty Agile are their premium implementation partner in Australia, what better “product” to demonstrate than some of Australia’s most successful SAFe implementations?So, we gathered together executives from the Australian Tax Office, Yarra Valley Water, ANZ, Attache and Westpac to discuss their warts and all experiences with the Scaled Agile Framework. Here is what happened...Moderator:  Today we're ...
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17
Aug 2017

Learning from Re-Squadification

One of the things I love about the A&I Agile Release Train is their drive to learn. Following the Re-Squadification day the train held a focused retrospective in order to understand what had gone wrong and how they could avoid a reoccurrence of a long drawn out self-selection process in the future.  The insights were fascinating. There were three main drivers of the stalemate - a belief the teams of 6 or 7 would not be effective, “feature pitching” by Scrum Masters and Product Owners and people trying to do the right thing!The frustration with team size I put down ...
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03
Aug 2017

Re-squadification

Three PIs after the 6-Day Quick-Start it was time to “re-squadify”. We had promised the teams during the initial self-selection event that they were not making life long commitments and that they would again have the opportunity to self-select in two or three PIs time.Over the preceding 6 months there had been a lot of change. The original 6 squads had been reduced to 5, as result of some parental leave and secondments. We had onboard two new squads based in China. The interns had moved on to their next rotation and there had been a few leavers and joiners, ...
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13
Apr 2017

SAFe PI Planning Quick-Start Style

The schedule for the two-day PI Planning event, days five and six of the 6-day quick-start, was pretty much textbook SAFe. Given I have blogged about PI Planning in the past, let’s skip the blow by blow description of PI Planning and focus on the highlights from this particular Agile Release Train's first PI Planning event.Firstly the opening messages set the perfect tone for the 2-days. The RTE opened the event with: "It’s been an epic few days and we are here now. PI Planning.  We are here and we are doing it and it’s awesome!  Now it’s about the ...
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16
Feb 2017

Just-in-time Training for an Agile Release Train Quick-Start

The three key ingredients in any ART launch are: teams, a well defined, force ranked feature level program backlog and the knowledge to execute in a lean and agile manner. In the case of the A&I ART, we now had teams and a backlog, we just needed the knowledge. This is where the SAFe for Teams training and the Scrum Master and Product Owner Orientation workshops came in.Monday morning the teams returned to same venue we had used for the self-selection event, to commence two-days of SAFe for Teams training. I was thrilled that the organisation had taken our guidance ...
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25
Jan 2017

Facilitating Squadification for a SAFe Agile Release Train

The squadification day had arrived! We had management buy in to allowing people to self-select into teams and a structure for our new new Agile Release Train (ART). I turned up with my Time Timer in tow ready to facilitate what I hoped would be a great beginning for this brand new ART.Over the course of the week leading up to the self self-selection, the thought of launching a new ART with no experienced Scrum Masters had been on my mind. How we would find the right people for those Scrum Master roles? I tend to choose what I read based on ...
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14
Dec 2016

Preparing for Team Self-Selection with SAFe & Structuring the ART

Those who know me will not be at all surprised to learn the first thing I did once there was agreement to use self-selection as the approach to forming teams for the A&I Agile Release Train was buy and read +Sandy Mamoli's book Creating Great Teams: How Self-Selection Lets People Excel. I had heard Sandy talk on the topic some time back and my colleague +Mark Richards had previously used the technique with +Andy Kelk at Australia Post, so I wasn't walking in blind.  My experiences with watching people bastardising SAFe made me want try and stick as closely to Sandy's guidance as possible. ...
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29
Nov 2016

The 6-Day SAFe Quick-Start with Self-Selecting Teams

For those not familiar with the SAFe “Quick-Start" (also known as the one-week launch) is a proven pattern for launching an Agile Release Train. A textbook Quick-Start goes something like this:In the weeks prior to the Quick-Start:the feature backlog is refined and prioritised (using WSJF), and;the people who will be doing the work are grouped in teams of 7+/- 2 with a Scrum Master and a Product OwnerDay 1 and 2 of the Quick-Start all the teams attend the 2-day SAFe for Teams training, sitting at team tables with their product owners. During the training they work with real features ...
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30
Oct 2016

Tribal Unity – The Book

Some of you may have noticed my blog has been a little quiet this year.  One reason for this is that I have been busy writing my first book - Tribal Unity: Getting From Teams to Tribes by Creating a One Team Culture. Some time soon I will blog about my agile book writing experience. Today, however, it is time to celebrate. This week, on the 27th October to be exact, my book went live on Amazon and Agile Denver threw me a launch party!Me introducing Tribal Unity to Agile DenverThe Agile Denver TribeMe unboxing the very first box of ...
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07
Apr 2016

Inside the Dragons’ Den @ Agile Australia 2016

It is that time of year again, when the various big agile conferences send out the acceptance and rejections notifications to those who submitted proposals. In Australia, this is generally followed by some twitter chatter from those who didn’t make the cut.  This time last year I was one of the many who received a “thanks but no thanks” email from Agile Australia. To be frank, I was surprised. I had submitted two talks that had been accepted by the Agile 2015 conference but were rejected by Agile Australia. What was up with that?  After much soul searching I decided ...
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17
Dec 2015

Good PI Planning is the Enemy of Great PI Planning

When I first met +Dean Leffingwell, I had already launched the EDW Release Train - without doing PI Planning. I was attending one of the early SPC classes in Boulder, CO. It was day 3 before I built up the courage to ask Dean the question that had been on my mind since I decided to attend the class: What should I do about the fact we weren’t doing PI Planning?My memory of Dean’s response is that he was rather dismissive. Being the sensitive little thing that I am, I felt somewhat wounded by this exchange. Looking back now, almost 3 ...
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15
Dec 2015

There is no such thing a Feature Owner… Or is there?

When an organisation introduces agile, it is not uncommon for there to be a mass rollout of Agile Fundamentals training, where the role of the Product Owner is positioned as being an empowered business person who is colocated with and 100% dedicated to work with the agile team. This sounds wonderful in theory, but when we start to scale this begins to get tricky.I once worked for an organisation that had a policy whereby you were only allowed to run your project agile if the business made a product owner 80% available to the project. Of course, the business wasn’t ...
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01
Dec 2015

Scaling Agile – Cucumber Podcast

As part of my participation in CukeUp Australia last month, the team at Cucumber invited me to join them in recording a podcast about Scaling Agile and how large organisations can make it work.You can tune to the discussion with +Terry Yin, +Matt Wynne, +Hamish Tedeschi,  +Steve Tooke and of course me, using the +SoundCloud player below.
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23
Nov 2015

The Journey of SAFe and Thawing Middle Management

While I was at Agile 2015, I had the opportunity to catch up with fellow Aussie +Craig Smith from +InfoQ. We talk about how I came to lead Australia's first Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) implementation and both my Agile 2015 sessions - The Magic Carpet Ride: A Business Perspective on DevOps and Thawing the Frozen Middle.You can watch, listen to or read the entire conversation at:http://www.infoq.com/interviews/agile2015-campbell-pretty
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10
Nov 2015

From teams to tribes: Creating a one-team culture in DevOps

One of the topics I have been talking about at various conferences over the last 18 months, is scaling culture with agile tribes. This is a topic that resonates with people in both the Agile and DevOps communities. As part of my participation in the DevOps Enterprise Summit last month I was invited to share my thoughts on this topic on the TechBeacon blog:From teams to tribes: Creating a one-team culture in DevOps
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27
Aug 2015

Facilitating SAFe Team Self-Assessments

As part of an Agile Release Train’s commitment to relentless improvement it is necessary for all the teams on the train to reflect and assess the effectiveness of their Scrum and XP practices on a regular cadence. For most once a PI seems to be a logical frequency. The Scaled Agile Framework provides a self-assessment tool to support this process and makes it freely available for download at: https://www.scaledagileframework.com/metrics/I have found clients often want to do self-assessments by sending them out as an online survey for team members to complete individually.  Personally I am not keen on this approach for ...
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28
Jul 2015

Educating DevOps: A Business Perspective

Back in March I was approached to contribute to DevOps Perspectives, a quarterly eBook sponsored by +CA Technologies. The resulting article, "Educating DevOps", starts on page 26 of "DevOps Perspectives 3: Straight talking and the latest thinking from the DevOps frontline".Use this link to download a copy of the eBook, which also includes contributions from +Dan North, +nicole forsgren and +Matthew Skelton.DevOps Perspectives 3Tweet
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14
Jul 2015

Spotifying SAFe with Guilds, Chapters and Squads

Last month’s Agile Australia conference played host to both Dean Leffingwell, the creator of the Scaled Agile Framework and Anders Ivarsson, Spotify Agile Coach and co-author of the Scaling Agile @ Spotify paper. Those who were able to drag themselves (and their hangovers) out of bed early enough on day 2 of the conference were treated to an “Ask the experts” panel featuring both Dean and Anders, along with Linda Rising and James Shore.  I’m sure you won't be surprised to learn that it was not long before an audience member asked what might seem like the obvious question - SAFe vs. “the ...
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27
May 2015

How to be Agile With a Fixed Scope Business Case? Part2 – Business Benefits over Business Requirements

In my previous blog post, I explored how “small batch funds release” can be an enabler for organisations starting their agile journey constrained by a traditional fixed scope, time and cost business case. With this more flexible but also more tightly controlled funding process in place, it is time to turn our attention to navigating the “signed off”, “locked down”, “fixed scope” requirements contained in the Business Requirements Document (BRD) that underpins the business case.Software developers working in traditional software development shops have been conditioned to expect their work to arrive in the form of requirements documents. Many organisations new ...
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04
May 2015

How to be Agile With a Fixed Scope Business Case? Part1 – Small Batch Funds Release

How do you embrace change when your hands are tied by corporate red tape?Many organisations I work with have existing business cases with fixed scope, time and cost expectations when they first decide to "go agile". The early conversations about "going agile" are generally prompted by either some misstep with a previous project or delivery issues with an inflight project. Agile is the magic answer that is going to radically improve the way Information Technology deliver projects. As the technology teams begin to "embrace change" and deliver "clean code", pressure begins to mount on the business processes that govern the ...
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11
Mar 2015

Scrum of Scrums with Feature Flow

Last year I wrote about the communication cadence and in particular the daily feature wall stand up that was the heartbeat of the EDW Agile Release Train.  Recently I received an email from someone who had read this post and wanted to know more. As he quite rightly pointed out the "post lacked the details to effectively implement a similar event but it sounded really worthwhile."When I sat down to reply to this e-mail, I found myself thinking about the power of the visualisations more than the event.  The inwards facing Release Train Engineer, +Wayne Palmer, had been determined since ...
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11
Feb 2015

Bridging the Great Divide Between the Business and IT: A Business Perspective

A while back a friend of mine suggested I take the time to write the story of how a business general manager found agile i.e. my story. While bits and pieces of the story appear in this blog, this is the first time I have put pen to paper and written about my journey in detail. This forms the basis of my latest article in the Cutter IT Journal. In this article I explore how agile helps change the dynamic between the business and IT, as I experienced it. Use this link to access a free download of my article on Bridging ...
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05
Nov 2014

Context Matters in SAFe

At Agile Australia this year I took some time out to talk with +Craig Smith, +Tony Ponton and +Renee Troughton from The Agile Revolution about the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and Impact Mapping.You can read a summary of the discussion and listen to the podcast here: Context Matters in SAFe with Em Campbell-PrettyShare this with your followers on Twitter
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30
Oct 2014

Is it SAFe to Scrum?

While I was hanging out on the West Coast of the U.S. earlier this month, I decided to take +Mike Cohn's Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) class. I have been using Scrum for a number of years, however my early agile education was from a more generic agile fundamentals angle and for no apparent reason I had never bothered to take a CSM class. When the opportunity to take Mike's class happened to match my travel schedule, it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I really enjoyed the two-day class, and, if you ever get the opportunity to learn Scrum ...
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24
Sep 2014

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

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 leap ...
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23
Jun 2014

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 why I fell in love ...
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27
May 2014

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 and ...
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05
May 2014

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 RTE, ...
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28
Apr 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 ...
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02
Apr 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 ...
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25
Mar 2014

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 morning’s ...
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05
Mar 2014

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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25
Feb 2014

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?

The concept of a PI (Program Increment), is generally considered the corner stone of cadence in SAFe. In simple terms, +Dean 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" release 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, so ...
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27
Jan 2014

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 first ...
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12
Dec 2013

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 as an ...
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26
Nov 2013

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

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 Satisfaction ...
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22
Oct 2013

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 the ...
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13
Oct 2013

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 off with +Mark ...
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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? 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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22
Sep 2013

How to Grow an Agile Release Train

The EDW Agile Release Train was established as a fixed capacity model consisting of five permanent feature teams. As our ability to deliver has improved over the last year, the demand for our services has increased. This lead to us to contemplating our options - do nothing, add another team. extend the capacity of the existing teams - and deciding to run an experiment.The train teams were all 8 person feature teams consisting of 1 Scrum Master, 1 Technical Lead, 1 Quality Lead and 5 Developers. Given, the optimal size of an Agile team is considered to be 7 ± ...
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15
Sep 2013

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath

Having read and really enjoyed Chip & Dan Heath's first book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, I bought Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hardwhen it was first released, however it sat on my bookshelf gathering dust until I heard +Jean Tabaka talking about it when she visited Telstra in June. In Switch, the Heath Brothers have done a a great job of making the science of change management simple. The book borrows an analogy from +Jonathan Haidt's The Happiness Hypothesis of the Elephant (our emotional side) and the Rider (our rational side). The premise being if the Elephant doesn't want to go ...
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01
Sep 2013

A Perspective on the Scaled Agile Framework

I have watched with interest and disappointment over the past month or so as Agile thought leaders have taken to publicly passing judgement on the new kid on the block, the Scaled Agile Framework aka SAFe. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a certified SAFe Program Consultant, I use SAFe with my team and my teams approach to implementing SAFe is featured in the case studies section on scaledagileframework.com.Over two and half years ago, I went on two days of Agile Fundamentals training lead by +Mark Richards. Mark's approach to introducing Agile was to provide us with a ...
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26
Aug 2013

My Agile 2013 Experience – Day 6 of 6

FridayThe closing keynote for Agile 2013 was "Why Everyone Needs DevOps Now: A Fourteen Year Study Of High Performing IT Organizations " by +Gene Kim, author of The Phoenix Project. (If you haven't read The Phoenix Project you can download a free 170 page excerpt here.)  This is the second time I have heard Gene give this presentation and I must say I was very pleased to discover that on this occasion it had been video taped and posted to the Agile Alliance website. Just in case you were considering not watching Gene's keynotes, let me give you a small taster of his findings:High performing organizations ...
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23
Aug 2013

My Agile 2013 Experience – Day 5 of 6

ThursdayDe-Mystifying Kanban: Understanding Its Many Faces +Al ShallowayAl provided a very thorough and complete explanation of the various flavours of Kanban. He covered:Kanban as a signalKanban as a Team Development ProcessKanban’s Roots in Lean Scrum as a Manifestation of LeanLean Kanban University (LKU) Kanban aka The Kanban MethodKanban Thinking or Lean-KanbanGetting Started with KanbanAl very kindly chose to record his presentation and make it available on his website. He also posted the slide deck here.Gaining Support for a Sustainable Agile Transformation +Dennis Stevens and +Mike Cottmeyer Dennis and Mike believe Agile is about team and if you can't get to teams you fundamentally cannot get agile to work. ...
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22
Aug 2013

My Agile 2013 Experience – Day 4 of 6

WednesdayWhen NOT to Have All the Answers: Stop Giving Advice and Start Asking Questions +Judith Mills  and +Christopher Avery Judith started by telling us about her addiction to giving advice and her realisation:"If I was going to be successful I couldn't be the expert I had to change the culture. Changing the culture isn't about imparting knowledge, its finding a way to tap into teams, have them take responsibility" and she immediately had my attention.Together with Christopher, Judith walked us through the responsibility process and how we respond to problems; moving from blame, to justify, to shame, to obligation. This is how we have ...
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21
Aug 2013

My Agile 2013 Experience – Day 3 of 6

TuesdayAgile Metrics: Velocity is NOT the goal +Michael "Doc" Norton  Doc opened by explaining that Velocity is a lagging indicator for a complex system and lagging indicators are good for monitoring trends but are poor predictors of the future. He advocated the use of standard deviation in forecasting velocity, noting: "The Business won't like this but it's the closest you can get to the truth with the data you have". Doc also warned against the use of velocity targets, "When you set a target for velocity you unintentionally introduce all sorts of problems into the system".Next Doc talked to the multiple ...
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20
Aug 2013

My Agile 2013 Experience – Day 2 of 6

MondayI missed Monday morning's keynote to attend the Executive Forum. In hindsight, the Executive Forum was not the best use of my time and hence I decided to spend the remainder of my day checking out sessions from the main conference.The Keynote, "Coding for America: How Agile and Lean are disrupting government -- and why they need to", was videoed and can be viewed on line here.The Agile Mindset +Linda Rising  This session was definitely my highlight from Day 1. Building on a theme touched on by +Mary Poppendieck and +Torbjörn Gyllebring at Agile Australia, Linda explored the fixed versus agile (growth) mindset. This session was ...
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19
Aug 2013

My Agile 2013 Experience – Day 1 of 6

Having been back home for a week, I have spent a week being asked "How was Agile 2013? What were your key takeaways?" and answering "I haven't digested it all yet. I need to order my thoughts." In an attempt to avoid further embarrassment, I decided to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and order my thoughts in the best way I know, by writing them down.  And having gone to all the trouble of writing them down, I figured I may as well share my thoughts with the blogsphere...SundayAgile 2013 was my first time at an Agile ...
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24
Jul 2013

Leading Through Vulnerability

When +Jean Tabaka ran her Scaling Collaboration workshop with my team in June, she commented on how open the team was to the experience and asked us how we went about creating an environment where traditionally introverted software engineers, from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds, were so willing to participate in team activities. From my perspective there were lots of contributing factors eg. the Hakas, Bubble Ups, lean coffee management meetings etc. but it all began with the weekly practise of "walk the walls"."Walk the walls" came about after I got sick of listening to my coach, +Mark Richards, carry on about what a waste of ...
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10
Jul 2013

Inspiring Software Engineers to Embrace Facilitation

At the beginning of June, I travelled to Boulder, Colorado to attend and speak at RallyON 2013. This was my first time attending RallyON and I wasn't sure what to expect. I diligently downloaded the Spotme app as suggested by the event organisers and spent a good hour or two trawling through the agenda selecting the sessions to attend. I was travelling with my friend and ex-coach, +Mark Richards, who has always been a huge fan of Rally Agile Fellow, +Jean Tabaka, so I thought I would add Jean and +Laura Burke's breakout session, Scaling Collaboration: Be the Hero Your Agile Teams Need You to Be, to my selections.On the first afternoon of the ...
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25
Jun 2013

The “Bubble Up” Approach to Scaling Retrospectives

One of the many initiatives I am really passionate about within our EDW Release Train is the commitment of my extended leadership team to continuous improvement. However, we have had some challenges identifying the right targets to improve! Instinctively it didn't seem like something that would be that hard. Surely if the train teams were experiencing pain in their every day work, they would tell us - or so I thought!I was under the impression we had broken down the communication barriers in our program wide retro a few months into our first attempt at scaling agile. On that occasion, our coach facilitated two hour ...
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27
May 2013

The Power of Haka

According to Wikipedia, the Haka “is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance or challenge... performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.” When I attended Dean Leffingwell’s s SAFe Certification course earlier this year, he used a video of the New Zealand All Blacks performing a haka to illustrate “The Power of Ba”. “Ba” being the place teams are in when they become high performing, self organising and energized. If you watch the video I’m sure you will agree that the spine chilling performance is the perfect illustration of what it feels like to be part ...
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20
May 2013

Can Lean Coffee Replace Management Meetings?

An unexpected takeaway from Scrum Australia was Lean Coffee.I had the good fortune to travel to Scrum Australia with three of my team members. On day two we decided that a hot breakfast was in order, so we met up at what had become "our place", Strawberry X Cafe. Over breakfast we got talking about our new ideas from the Scrum Australia sessions we had attended, as well as general improvements we would like to make to our ways of working, peppered with random conversations about things to do and see in Sydney!Three hours later, we were all talked out and ...
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14
May 2013

My key takeaways from Scrum Australia

When first invited to Scrum Australia I was dubious, but as I always say, "nothing ventured nothing gained", so I thanked Martin Kearns for the invite and booked my trip to Sydney!For me Kenny Rubin stole the show. Given I am SAFe Program Consultant, Kenny's views on Economically Sensible Scrum and Strategies for Portfolio Management really resonated with me. Kenny opened with a story about an understaffed restaurant that seated more customers than it could comfortably serve. Customers waited hours for service and everyone who ate in that restaurant that day had a poor experience. He positioned the economically sensible alternative would have ...
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03
Apr 2013

In the beginning…

It's been two years since I started my Agile journey in earnest. At the time I was the business sponsor of a significant capital investment being made by Corporate into the delivery of a true enterprise data warehouse. As the business owner of the program, I owned the business requirements, but very little else. Projects in this domain followed a  traditional waterfall style SDLC. The business produced a business requirements document and the IT teams then produced a raft of other documentation (such as a requirements definition document, a system requirements specification etc.) and about 6 months later all this documentation was passed to an off-shore ...
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