Whenever you let up before the job is done, critical momentum can be lost and regression may follow.
This article is part of the SAFe® Implementation Roadmap series which outlines and discusses the primary ‘critical moves’ that are common to successful SAFe transformations. To view the Roadmap and find links to the entire set of supporting articles, click here.
Coach ART Execution
In the previous articles in the SAFe Implementation Roadmap series, we described the first eight steps:
- Reaching the Tipping Point
- Train Lean-Agile Change Agents
- Train Executives, Managers, and Leaders
- Charter a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE)
- Identify Value Streams and ARTs
- Create the Implementation Plan
- Prepare for ART Launch
- Train Teams and Launch the ART
At this stage of the implementation, the first big events are now in your rear-view mirror. You’ve trained teams, launched the first Agile Release Train (ART), and held a Program Increment (PI) planning session. The result of all this effort is an empowered, engaged, and aligned team-of-Agile-teams ready to begin building solutions that deliver value.
Before you move on to that critical work it’s important to understand that training and planning alone do not make the newly formed teams and ARTs ‘Agile.’ It simply provides the opportunity to begin the journey of becoming Agile. To support this journey, leadership—and SAFe Program Consultants (SPCs) in particular—must be mindful that knowledge does not equal understanding. It takes time to achieve effective team-level Agile practices and behaviors, which is why significant effort must be made to Coach ART Execution.
To reach this point, the enterprise has made a significant investment in developing SPC change agents, and training stakeholders in the new way of working. Now is the time for that investment to pay off, as SPCs and Lean-Agile leaders focus on what really matters: helping to assure the delivery of value in the shortest sustainable time, while producing the highest quality. That will start to happen when you begin team-level and ART-level coaching.
Coaching the ART fosters progress in these areas:
- Helping to build and maintain the Vision and Roadmap
- Defining and managing the program Kanban and Program Backlog
- Coaching Product Managers, System Architects and Release Train Engineers in their roles
- Supporting frequent system-level integration, including the System Demo
- Participating in the Scrum of Scrums, Product Owner (PO), and ART sync meetings
- Helping to facilitate Inspect and Adapt, and follow-up on improvement items
- Supporting the System Team and others in building a DevOps culture and development and automation of the continuous delivery pipeline
- Maintaining a focus on the Architectural Runway
- Supporting Release Management in the new way of working
- Supporting or delivering additional training
The teams, especially those new to Agile, will need significant help as well. Team coaching opportunities include:
- Helping teams plan, execute, review, and retrospect the first iterations
- Coaching new Scrum Masters and Product Owners in their roles
- Initiating and supporting Agile technical and Quality practices
- Helping teams establish the infrastructure, practices, and culture needed for continuous integration and the continuous delivery pipeline
- Establishing Communities of Practice
Clearly, there’s no shortage of opportunities for SPCs and Lean-Agile leaders to practice and demonstrate their new skills and mindset.
An important note: For first-line development and engineering managers, the move to SAFe and Lean-Agile adoption can be scary. Traditional daily and task-oriented supervision is no longer required. Instead, these new ‘lean-thinking manager-teachers’ adopt a servant-leader approach, and take on a different set and style of activities as described in the Lean-Agile Leaders article. The short coaching list above also serves notice that the knowledge and skills of our managers and leaders are incredibly valuable, as there is much work to be done. It just needs to be done differently.
Inspect and Adapt
Finally, there is no coaching opportunity more critical than the first Inspect and Adapt (I&A) workshop. That’s where everyone will learn how the PI went, how the teams performed against their plans and commitments, and how the solution really worked at that point in time. In addition, SPCs and coaches can lead the first real corrective action and problem-solving workshop.
This gives teams the tools they need to improve their performance independently. It also allows them to work together—along with their management stakeholders—to collaboratively address the larger impediments that they face.
For the first ART, then, it’s on to the next PI. But for the reader, it’s on to the next article in the Implementation Roadmap series: Launch More ARTs in the Value Stream.
Last update: 6 March, 2017