SAFe is not the goal…

SAFe is not the goal…

Nor is doing LeSS or being a good DAD.

If you’ve got no idea what I’m on about, these are all cash cows frameworks for scaling agility in large organisations.

Scaled agile framework = SAFe / Large scale scrum = LeSS / Disciplined agile delivery = DAD

They’re designed to help provide structure and guidance on how to do stuff (typically software delivery) across multiple teams and departments quickly and logically in order to deliver value to customers.

Now the problem is this – because of the highly prescriptive nature of these frameworks it’s easy to become engrossed and maybe even a little obsessed with doing them. On being able to demonstrate that they are being followed ‘correctly’. On taking the suggestions literally and trying to apply all of them to the letter (and lambasting anyone that dares to step outside of the guidelines).

However, this means that we lose site of what is actually important. These frameworks in themselves are not the goal.

As long as we remember to see them for what they are – tools that may be able to help us realise our business goals (depending on your specific context), we are going to be OK. But lose sight of the real goal of delivering value to customers and/or internal stakeholders and we’re in trouble. Yet all too often we fall into this trap.

We (and the organisations we work with) start to focus on the rules of the game. We start to see following them as a success. We think we’re winning because on paper we tick the right boxes of doing the right ceremonies, having the right buzz words and changing the names of peoples role. What a shame. We couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Successful agile transformations have NOTHING to do with the framework used. And neither does successful delivery of value to customers.

They happen by:

  • Having a group of people willing to experiment with new ideas
  • Not having a fear of failure
  • A commitment to constant improvement
  • Having leaders who can align people to a shared goal
  • Creating an environment of trust and psychological safety
  • Allowing people the space to have autonomy and achieve mastery (if they so desire)
  • Putting the right people in the right roles
  • Allowing people to focus on one thing at a time

Ultimately it comes down this – what’s the why?

Why is it that the organisation is trying to become more agile? What’s the problem that they are trying to solve? That’s your goal. Make sure everyone understands it. How you choose to get there really doesn’t matter…

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