The Scaled Agile Framework Enables Realistic Enterprise Change

Tony TimbolSteve Denning’s recent Forbes article, “How To Make the Whole Organization Agile,” had some excellent commentary on corporate cultural dynamics and the headwinds produced when change is attempted, especially in the case of Agile.

 On the whole, the article is about how easy it is for Agile to fail because it requires a commitment and a new way of thinking, not just from the Agile teams, but from the entire organization. This is largely because the top levels of an organization care almost entirely about making money – and command-and-control reinforces this belief down the lines of the organization. Agile, however, is about creating value for the customers (increased profits will come as a result).

Denning’s statement about a top-down management approach is spot on. He claims that in this environment, implementing Agile is tricky. When the manager is boss, “adoption of Agile is limited to the team level, [and] it risks being incomplete and dysfunctional, producing little if any improvement for the organization.”

The article then becomes a focus on how to create an Agile environment throughout the organization. Denning is quick to introduce – and dismiss – the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) as a solution. So far as we understand his point, this is because he sees SAFe as an attempt to align Agile teams with corporate goals (that is, to make money), which is ultimately not fostering an Agile atmosphere and is not focusing on increased value for the customers.

He asserts that, “In the process of ‘aligning’ Agile teams with corporate goals, such as making quarterly profits and pumping up the stock price, SAFe destroys the very essence of Agile.”

We struggle with this assertion for two reasons: First, SAFe is very much built on lean and Agile principles. Second, the alignment of which Denning speaks is not a sell-out accommodation to existing corporate authority structures. It is a negotiated agreement between management and Agile teams regarding value streams – and yes, that means value to the customer. That very discussion should be a catalyst for basing corporate goals on achievable customer value. This “alignment” between management and the teams is actually what has been missing in most development, resulting in a high rate of project failure.

Denning is right that making Agile work requires change within the entire organization, but we disagree with his belief that SAFe doesn’t meet this need. Indeed, we believe that a deeper understanding of SAFe shows that it facilitates such a change. SAFe is not the only workable way to scale Agile, but it is a realistic one.


Tony Timbol

SAFe Program Consultant

Written by Tony Timbol at 05:00

The Kanban Game

Success with leanAt DCG, we're big proponents of finding new ways to approach problems. One problem we often run into is that, in general, people don't always retain what they have learned - shocking, right? No, of course not. We all know that this is a common issue. But, that issue becomes a much bigger one when we are talking about lean.

Lean requires its users to understand, retain and abide by its guiding principles. Countless times we have encountered organizations who are struggling with lean, and the main cause of their problem is that they're not appropriately applying the principles of the approach. So, how do we overcome that hurdle?

We're actually finding success with a game! Yes, you read that correctly - a game. We've been helping organizations understand and retain lean principles through the use of the Kanban Game. The game runs a kanban simulation, providing a hands-on experience with lean principles, which ultimately helps everyone to fully process the information for future, ongoing use.

We'd love to share the game with you and your organization. Interested? More information is available here.

We're excited to have found a fun - and incredibly successful - way to help teach these principles for sustained success, and we can't wait to share it!


Written by Default at 05:00

Most Popular Collateral of 2015

We've already shared our top 5 blog posts so far this year, and now we're sharing our most popular items in our Publications Library! Here are the top 5 most viewed publications on our website for 2015 (January through June); be sure to check them out!

Top 5 Publications

1. Template: Contracting for Agile - This is a template contract for Agile from the U.K. government.

2. Sizing Application Maintenance and Support Activities - A proven approach for estimating maintenance and support activities using a new type of ‘sizing’ model.

3. A Short History of the Cost Per Defect Metric- Learn more about the cost per defect metric.

4. 4 Pillars of PMO Performance - Tips for improved PMO performance.

5. Agile Estimation and Functional Metrics - This paper provides a path for incorporating the use of function points into Agile estimation techniques.

Do you think this list will change before December? Check back in a few months and find out!

Written by Default at 05:00

Top Blog Posts of 2015

Every December we like to share our top blog posts from the past year. This year we thought, "Why wait until December?" Of course, we encourage you to follow the pack and see why these posts are so popular! They cover the range of our areas of focus (Agile, function points, TMMi, estimation and more!), so there's a little something for everyone! Without further adieu, here are the top 5 blog posts (the ones that have the most views this year) from January through June of 2015:

1. Estimating Software Maintenance - Learn more about a unique and proven approach for estimating maintenance and support activities using a new type of "sizing" model.

2. Agile Transformation of the Organization - The key to successfully implementing enterprise Agile is to implement strategic change. Learn how!

3. How to Manage Vendor Performance - Learn how you can use Function Point Analysis to measure your vendor's performance.

4. Scaling Agile Testing Using the TMMi - The Test Maturity Model integration (TMMi) is a framework for effective testing in an Agile environment. Learn how to put it to use.

5. Exploratory Testing and Technical Debt - Exploratory testing (ET) is a type of manual testing. Learn more about the type of technical debt it creates.

Be sure to check back in December to see how that list compares to this one!

Written by Default at 05:00

DCG Advances to Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe™) Certified Silver Partner

SAFe Silver PartnerWe're happy to announce that we have certified additional members of our team as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Program Consultants (SPC). As a result, we have advanced to Silver Partner status with Scaled Agile, Inc. (SAI), the exclusive certifying entity for the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe).

Over the past year, our SPCs have been involved in numerous SAFe training classes and client engagements, and we're more convinced than ever that the SAFe framework is the best practice for scaling Agile. We're also more aware than ever that the need to scale Agile is prevalent in many organizations, but help is often needed in order to best execute the task.

As a Silver Partner, we're looking forward to expanding our reach and helping more organizations realize and capture the value of SAFe. We have access to proven SAI materials and thought leadership, as well as training curriculums and courseware. If you're not prepared to commit to SAFe yet, we also offer a SAFe Readiness Review (to help your organization determine if (and how) SAFe would work in your specific environment).

The benefits of Agile are undeniable (when implemented properly) - we're excited to help organizations expand those benefits across their teams with the Scaled Agile Framework! If you have any questions about the framework, please do not hesitate to reach out!

Written by Default at 05:00
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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