Blogagility Original

User stories are integral to SAFe

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Contrary to a recent post from a SAFe competitor, the various SAFe course materials include many examples of user stories from user personas as well as examples from system personas.

This post was very easy to disprove by looking only into two SAFe courses, SAFe for Teams 5.0 and POPM 5.0 where they have over 10 story examples, respectively. In the current versions of the courses, and in previous versions. Additionally, SAFe has available a Story Writing Workshop that includes many, many more examples of stories and guidance on how to write quality stories.

All of the courseware supporting Team & Technical Agility includes guidance tools such as “The Three C’s”, decomposition patterns, explanations of how to use personas, Lean UX, et cetera. We even reference Mike Cohn’s work in several cases.

Additionally, not every SAFe course needs to have explanations of user stories/stories as the courses are role based. To learn more read the 12 articles on the SAFe Implementation Roadmap.

Sorry, Dov Tsal, but your assertions about the SAFe in this case are incorrect. Good effort though.

New version of the SAFe® Capacity Planning Tool Released

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It is a new year with a fresh and amazing new version of the SAFe, 5.0, has been released! So, I had planned some updates to the tool to simplify it and add some clarity to the concepts of velocity and capacity in relation to capacity planning and management for teams. I didn’t get around to it until now.

Enjoy the 2.0 version of the SAFe Capacity Planning Tool. It now includes a bonus (not included in SAFe) capacity allocation chart for use by teams.

Read the original article to find the new tool. The original version was released in 2017.

Or skip reading things and use the LINK HERE

Debunking more SAFe® misconceptions 10x – The Scrum master

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In this short article we will prove the poorly crafted argument about the Scrum master role in SAFe incorrect as posited in the “Remove Scrum from SAFe” petition. I’m not really writing this to defeat the arguments presented in the petition because any rational person who looks into the details will come to the conclusion that the petition is 1.) wrong 2.) inconsistent 3.) factually incorrect. My goal here is more to take the opportunity to educate folks on the SAFe so that they will have more knowledge of how to use the #1 scaling framework in industry to improve business results and outcomes.

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Hate SAFe Machine Update – “Remove references to Scrum…” foolishness

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Remove Scrum supporters get Scrum wrong.

I could do this all day. Easily pick apart the ignorance in the subject article. It seems that hate knows no bounds with some people. Get over yourself already!! An entire collection of thinly veiled insults masquerades as arguments in a petition set against damaging Scrum. Facts be damned in the articles arguments.

So here is just one of many potential dismantling opportunities for the ignorant and arrogant arguments presented in the linked/subject article.

reference link: http://remove-scrum-from-safe.tilda.ws/PO

So, the haters #removescrum argument is that SAFe says “the PO is the only team member empowered to accept stories as done” and this is an anti-pattern.

However, if we navigate over the Scrum Guide and read for 30 seconds… we find this:

The Product Owner explains what Product Backlog items have been “Done” and what has not been “Done”;

Scrum Guide

Now, anyone with basic reading comprehension skills could draw the conclusion here that these two statements are saying exactly the same thing (the SAFe statement is aligned with the Scrum Guide). Especially if you read the entire Scrum Guide. More below.

It is the responsibility of the Dev Team to ensure the delivery of high-quality increments

Anti-SAFe petition

The quote above from the petition actually does not appear in the Scrum Guides. Now, if I wanted (which I wouldn’t ever attack people and a framework like they do; this is called defense) to stoop to the low level of the anti-SAFe folks I could also play twisted word games. The Scrum Guide actually NEVER states that the Development Team is responsible to ensure the delivery of high-quality increments. Wait, what? Yes. The emperor has no clothes!!

There are seven uses of the word responsible in the Scrum Guide and only two of those are referenced to the Development Team and NEITHER is about the statement in the petition. The Scrum Guide says the Development Team is responsible for estimates and conducting the Daily Scrum event.

Now, how many “SAFe zeolots” are out there creating petitions to remove poor understanding of Scrum from Scrum? Zero is the answer. But in their extreme bias and zeal to destroy people and a framework that are massively more successful than they are… judgment and intellect are clouded.

The Scrum Master ensures that the Development Team has the meeting, but the Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum. 

The Development Team is responsible for all estimates. 

Scrum Guide

Further quotes supporting the SAFe translation (that avoids restating the Scrum Guide for obvious reasons) and disproves the “remove scrum people” arguments.

The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog. Product Backlog management includes: …

also:
The increment must be in useable condition regardless of whether the Product Owner decides to release it.

also:
Scope may be clarified and re-negotiated between the Product Owner and Development Team as more is learned.

– Scrum Guide

However, the Product Owner remains accountable.

The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, including its content, availability, and ordering.

– Scrum Guide

E.g. So, I am a manager of employees and I am accountable and responsible for the employees but I am NOT the person empowered to accept the employees as fit for the job. That is the argument of the Remove Scrum thinkers.

No person would accept that management job nor would leadership be setting the stage for success. That path leads to toxicity and bad culture.

So, in fact the opposite of the claims of the #removescrum -mers is true. If there is no clear leadership function on the team and the Development Team has the ultimate authority to accept work as done then an impasse and problem is created more often than not.

You have to take the entire document into consideration not part of it or just one word. The arguments of the Remove Scrummers lead to a PO that cannot bear enough influence on the backlog because they can only explain not break disagreements. This is why the guide says the PO is a manager of the backlog and is responsible and accountable for the backlog. This is also where the argument of the Remove Scrummers fails. They have self-contradicted from the source they claim supports their fallacious argument.

Now, I get that the goal is for the Development Team to have some independence from the traditional Taylorism and PHB. That is not absolute independence though and the argument of the Remove Scrummers stretches the intent of the Scrum Guide. The PO prioritizes and sets the stage for a set of PBI’s that the Development Team may select from to create a Sprint Backlog. The Sprint Backlog does not exist without the Product Backlog. They are not mutually exclusive.

At the review, “the Scrum Team and stakeholders collaborate about what was done in the Sprint.”

The Product Owner explains what Product Backlog items have been “Done” and what has not been “Done”;

-The Scrum Guide

This statement uses the word explain because that is the actionable intent. Most cases will go exactly like that on a high-performing Scrum team. But not all. Sometimes there is disagreement about what is done and what is not done. Post-explaining the PO will have the ultimate authority and responsibility to determine what is done and what is not done.

For any rational person not hell bent on disproving and destroying the SAFe — this is a clear purpose and part of the PO role.

“Stories” in the Backlog

This word is one place that we could argue for an adjustment. Except that we are talking about Scrum and Agile behavior at scale. Oops, nevermind.

In the SAFe, we also discuss improvement items that are also in the Backlogs. They are not necessarily stories. Tasks are not recommended, but could also be a PBI in the backlog model. The concept of Stories comes from XP and the Scrum Guide does not use the term. It uses the generic product backlog item concept. Which easily translates to enterprise backlog models as we use in the SAFe.

Now, what is really interesting is that the Scrum apologists will argue for “pure” Scrum and it doesn’t include XP. In the same breathe, they will say that Scrum is Agile. So which is it? Immutable or not? Associated or not?

I have never seen or heard of a successful use of Scrum without good technical practices…like those we learn of in XP. Ruh-roh!! Also, and even more so, I have never, ever heard a Scrum team claim they were not Agile. Bazinga!

So it is ok for Scrum zealots to mutate Scrum and use it is intended, as a framework for managing a complex process but not anyone else? #hypocrisy

Exploring the economics of decision making in SAFe® through gamification

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Economic thinking and principles

In the popular Scaled Agile Framework for Lean Enterprises (SAFe) we strive to “apply a comprehensive economic framework” through Principle #1: Take an Economic View. Certainly, part of how we deliver on this framework is through the natural decentralized decision making process that occurs when real Agile teams hypothesize their way through optimizing batch sizes, building quality in, and relentlessly improving. Breaking down work into slices of working software/deliverables/efforts that are potentially shippable (i.e. features) each iteration.

I believe that the dominant paradigm for managing product development is fundamentally wrong. Not just a little wrong, but wrong to its very core. It is as wrong as we were in manufacturing, before the Japanese unlocked the secret of lean manufacturing. I believe that a new paradigm is emerging, one that challenges the current orthodoxy of product development.

Reinertsen, Donald G.. The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development (p. 1). Celeritas Publishing. Kindle Edition.

At scale, we apply the same core thinking to how we invest in Epics and Features. Run experiments.

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DevSecOps Bungling

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Sometimes it is important to call out missteps even when there is good intent. Feedback is critical, and an important part of DevOps after all…

The authors, brilliant knowledge workers, amazing researchers, and well known marketers of the DevOps movement do not overload the already loaded term trying to capture acronyms for every element of the body of knowledge. Kim, Humble, Debois, and Willis did not call their book the “DevSecOps Handbook.” I wonder why? 

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Setting the blog free…

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the experiments are complete… blogagility.com fails.

Hello everyone! I have made a decision after much thought and quite a few experiments over the past few years. I am setting the blog to free mode and will no longer be posting content on a regular basis. I may still post if there is a topic that is of particular interest or that I’m passionate about. Emphasis on may post. I’ve found LinkedIn to provide access to a bigger audience so I’ll probably post there if anywhere.

Experiments

It has been an interesting set of experiments over the years trying different things to drive product development of the blog. It seems that the primary driver of users are either really good content, or just highly controversial topics. Good content takes time to build and deploy. Controversy is easy and drives lots of discussion but has the negative aspect of also bringing out the very worst in people. I have no interest supporting anything negative or controversy. At this time in my life I also cannot justify all of the extra time and effort away from my family producing good content for free.

Costs

The business plan renewal for blogagility.com is coming up in September. The sunk cost in services every year is around $400 which isn’t much at all. It’s the time involved in maintenance and production of content that is very expensive. Figure $20,000-$30,000 per year.

Outcomes

From a product development perspective the desired outcome of this blog was more engagement from the Lean-Agile community (in context) that would enable more learning and opportunity for everyone. From my perspective, this was a dismal failure. Engagement on the blog and linked articles from social media has been very poor for the most part for the past five years (since 2014). As you can see from the charts there are around 1,500 regular unique visitors to the blog every month. The spikes were either content or controversial content generated. ALL of the bigger spikes in engagement were controversial context related. Which is really sad.

Last year I sent out a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey via article and numerous repostings on social media. The final result was only 10 respondents and an NPS of -30. That is not good.

Thank you to blog supporters

There have been some positive outcomes from the blog. I did send out a few t-shirts and there were a few supporters who provided content and others who sent money. For all blogagility.com supporters, I thank you sincerely!

Pivot or Persevere

Pivot is the clear choice. I am going to invest my time and energy in other ways of engaging with the community. I will still be on LinkedIn and the SAFe Communities, and I will be ramping up my support of various Lean-Agile Meetups across the US.