The real lesson in Steve Denning’s Understanding Fake Agile

Ref: Understanding Fake Agile by Steve Denning

There has been a lot of buzz around Mr. Denning’s comments in this article as SAFe being “the epitome of fake Agile”

But the real message is earlier, when he postulates the “3 laws of Agile”

  1. Law of the Customer—an obsession with delivering value to customers as the be-all and end-all of the organization
  2. Law of the Small Team—all work is carried out by small self -organizing teams, working in short cycles and focused on delivering value to customers
  3. Law of the Network—the firm operates as an interacting network of teams, all focused on working together to deliver increasing value to customers

In summary, focus on the customer with small teams working as a network

What does this require?

Clear vision of who your customer is and what value you are going for. Work on delivering value in small increments so small teams can do the job. Create the alignment and proper communication channels networks require. These don’t just don’t happen on their own

I suggest that these three ‘laws’ can be used by those selecting an approach to take by considering how the approaches manifest them (or not). Designers of frameworks need to consider them as well.

Announcing The Net Objectives FLEX Training Program

I’m in the process of defining our FLEX Train-the-Trainer and FLEX Training program

I’m starting it out on LinkedIn in order to get feedback. There are two levels of certification and two levels of accreditation. I distinguish between ‘certification’ and ‘accreditation’ by having certification mean people are actually competent in what they are certified in while accreditation means they’ve taken a course so are being accredited with knowledge that the course taught. I am not a believer in meaningless certification one gets by merely taking a course and passing an exam (e.g., Scrum Master, SPC).

Why Net Objectives has created this program

Net Objectives has been on the forefront of Agile at scale for over a decade. Almost all methods are based on values and practices. Few are truly based on Lean-Thinking incorporating the theory of Flow as presented by Don Reinertsen. The challenge with basing an approach on practices is that workshops tend to focus on preset solutions or require too much thinking by participants. FLEX is an approach based on patterns of solution incorporating the following areas: Continue reading “Announcing The Net Objectives FLEX Training Program”

The Mistaken Assumptions of Essential SAFe and What They Tell Us

From the SAFe site:

  • With such a robust framework, the question becomes; how closely does an organization need to follow various SAFe practices to get the desired result?
  • [Essential SAFe] provides a starting point for implementing SAFe and describes the most critical elements needed to realize the majority of the framework’s benefit.

SAFe is projecting the word ‘robust’ (which means strong) on itself instead of using the more appropriate ‘complicated.’ This is merely putting lipstick on a pig.

SAFe’s complexity makes it hard to implement as a whole. There are many essential concepts in the higher levels, however. The choice becomes insufficient or overly complicated.

Essential SAFe has Mid to small size organizations (especially those within larger companies) lose the opportunity to solve one of their biggest problems – prioritizing what to work on. Claiming that one should start at the bottom is reckless.

The bottom line is that SAFe is an overly complex framework requiring one to start with only a part of it. But this violates what SAFe claims to be built on – systems-thinking and Lean. It also loses the opportunity of getting the higher levels involved quickly.

There is cause and effect between actions and results

While I agree that complexity means that we can’t predict what’s going to happen when we make a change. But not having certainty does not mean there aren’t forces we have to attend to. It’s like driving. While complex, driving on the correct side of the road makes what happens both more predictable and effective.

What we must be aware of is that we may not get what we expect to happen. This is not failing but rather an opportunity to learn about learning the relationships between the people and actions in our organization. Some we don’t see well and others don’t behave the way we expect. But by considering what should happen contrasted with what does, we learn about these relationships when we get unexpected behavior. We can then take action based on this new knowledge.

It’s not failing when we learn fast in this way. It’s how we get improvement in complex systems and those that can go off course because of small misunderstandings and mistakes. The key, of course, is feedback, continual learning and creating a model of how things work we are always suspicious of. If all you do is inspect and adapt without creating a model of what’s happening you lose the opportunity of increasing your understanding.

In my FLEX book I am building out such a model. Check it out at  https://portal.netobjectives.com/pages/books/going-beyond-lean-and-agile/creating-a-roadmap-for-improvement/#ActionsThatHelp

10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: The Goal is Business Agility

This podcast is part of a series, The 10 most important things I have learned from 20 years in Agile (June 3, 2019)

In this series, Al Shalloway shares some of the most important insights he’s had over this time and how they relate to each other.

This episode is about the Goal: Business Agility. Continue reading “10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: The Goal is Business Agility”

Issues with using preset training materials

It’s exciting to see how the competency of internal change agents is going up – many well above the average consultant. They don’t help in what to do as much of it being an issue of the time to do it

Turning to set training materials is often their only option. But using set materials without change is almost certainly not ideal for the organization. This makes it hard to adapt the method to the organization and avoid a “one-size fits-all” approach. While this may benefit the people selling the materials it is certainly not a benefit to the change agent

This is why FLEX has two courses:
1) FLEX for Change Agents. This is a 3 day course intended for people who will teach FLEX internally. Its high level agenda is:
Day 1: 1/2 day on FLEX, and a 1/2 day on doing an assessment to determine their organization’s challenges
Day 2: Full day on FLEX
Day 3: 1/2 day on how to use FLEX to create a starting framework that will work for their org, and a 1/2 day on how to teach FLEX

They then take a 2-day online workshop that provides the optional practices they need

At this point they can teach the 2nd FLEX course – Adopting FLEX. This is a 2-day course they teach to their organization that they’ve tailored themselves

Agile needs to be flexible

10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: The Goal is Business Agility

This podcast is part of a series, The 10 most important things I have learned from 20 years in Agile (June 3, 2019)

In this series, Al Shalloway shares some of the most important insights he’s had over this time and how they relate to each other.

This episode is about the Goal: Business Agility. Continue reading “10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: The Goal is Business Agility”

10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Focus on the Work, Not the Framework

This podcast is part of a series, The 10 most important things I have learned from 20 years in Agile (June 3, 2019)

In this series, Al Shalloway shares some of the most important insights he’s had over this time and how they relate to each other.

This episode is about Focusing on the Work, Not the Framework. Continue reading “10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Focus on the Work, Not the Framework”

10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Flexible Concrete

This podcast is part of a series, The 10 most important things I have learned from 20 years in Agile (June 3, 2019)

In this series, Al Shalloway shares some of the most important insights he’s had over this time and how they relate to each other.

This episode is about Flexible Concrete. Continue reading “10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Flexible Concrete”

10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Value Stream Mapping

This podcast is part of a series, The 10 most important things I have learned from 20 years in Agile (June 3, 2019)

In this series, Al Shalloway shares some of the most important insights he’s had over this time and how they relate to each other.

This episode is about Value Stream Mapping. Continue reading “10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Value Stream Mapping”