Monday, October 5, 2015

InRhythm is Scaling Scaled Agile

No one needs to prove that Agile is a modern delivery framework. According to VersionOne’s State of Agile Survey for 2015, 94% of all organizations surveyed are practicing Agile. In addition, 45% of respondents worked in development organizations where the majority of their teams are Agile. Contrast this with the 2009 report: only 31% of the respondents worked in organizations with zero to two teams practicing agile. There are multiple successful Agile implementations with well documented case studies around them.
We cannot state the same about scaling Agile. There are several frameworks: Disciplined Agile Delivery by Scott Ambler, Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) by Dean Leffingwell, and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) by Craig Larman. Introduced by three different thought leaders, each framework generated communities of practice and a number of positive stories related to successful implementations. That being said, each of those frameworks requires deep analysis and experience in scaling Agile in order to be successful. Frameworks define the approach and the implementation paradigm, but in each case it is the methodology built on top of those frameworks and the company-specific execution that makes or breaks it.
At InRhythm, we have been providing enterprise level Agile support for almost 10 years, and we have our own defined methodology. When SAFe was introduced, we felt that our experience and approach resonated with the crispness and the combination of Agile and Lean practices defined by SAFe. Our current approach to supporting large organizations in scaling their Agile delivery is based on three steps:
  1. The InRhythm signature Agile assessment, which provides an organization with an overview of their strengths and opportunities and practical recommendations. This assessment also serves as an input into a customized Scaled Agile boot camp.
  2. The InRhythm Scaled Agile boot camp is provided separately for managers and for team members. For managers, there is a two-day SAFe Agilist (SA) class certified by the Scaled Agile Academy and a one-day workshop to discuss and define how it relates to their specific organization, map their processes, and roles to SAFe concepts.
  3. The InRhythm Scaled Agile Coaching for Agile teams ensures that SAFe principles are well understood and that teams are developing consistent and repeatable practices, introducing proper metrics, and making their Agile implementation self-sustainable, so that all practices remain in place when our InRhythm coaches leave.
Now, a little bit about my recent personal experience in working with an InRhythm enterprise client on the West coast, a well-known and highly reputable company:
How did this collaboration happen?
InRhythm’s goal is to bring thought leadership to our clients and support change within their organizations. The clients who bring us in are the leaders within their organizations. We come in as change agents to support their commitment to continuous improvement. This is how this company, via a prior client referral, brought us in to support their commitment to scaling Agile.
Initially, a team of Agile coaches came on site to meet with their executives, team members, as well as product and delivery managers. The team attended their Agile ceremonies, reviewed artifacts, and mapped their delivery processes. Their receptivity to change, open thinking, and positive attitude still resonate with me. I felt proud to have had a chance to collaborate with such a strong leadership team. We were able to identify their areas of strengths, which they could build upon, as well as provide practical advice on areas of opportunity that, if addressed, will expedite delivery and support quality at the portfolio level. Based on our findings, we created a customized training curriculum to provide specific implementation details to the teams within a large portfolio.
Once this was shared and presented to the client, we were excited to head back on site and provide the training, which we certified with the Scaled Agile Academy. The training covered how a large software delivery structure should be organized, how to manage dependencies, how to identify priorities at release level, how to build program-level engineering practices, and several practical details of scaled Agile implementation. In addition, we discussed how each of those principles applied to their specific organization:

  • How many Agile Release Trains they have in their Agile portfolio and what should they be
  • How their current roles and responsibilities map to those at the program and portfolio levels within Scaled Agile framework
  • How to build a sense of ownership on their teams
  • How to map their organizational vision and mission to the strategy they would like to implement
  • Other practical aspects of their Agile implementation

  • This was a great collaborative workshop facilitated by InRhythm with the delivery team owning the solutions

The feedback from the boot camp participants was that it was an eye opening conversation with indispensable practical value and a solid foundation for their scaled Agile implementation.
The next step for us is to coach their Agile implementation teams at the portfolio and program levels, co-create artifacts that reflect their unique objectives and organizational structure, and provide thought leadership in building repeatable processes that will stay with the organization after we leave. It is such a great responsibility, and so much fun, to help organizations build world-class practices and sustainable cultures of Agile delivery at scale!


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