February 4, 2020 // By John Doucette
Business Agility, Customer Centricity, Design Thinking, restructured Competencies, and Organizing Around Value are some of the key changes in the new SAFe 5.0.
I had the opportunity to receive my SPC 4.6 in Boulder, CO at the SAFe mother ship, under the tutelage of Dean and Oren. During those 4 days, we had the chance to visit the planning board (yes, a 75-foot wall) and take a sneak peek into what was coming in 5.0. The biggest rock I noticed, and could see coming even before the training, was Business Agility. I know from my expereince in the software build industry for over 30 years, this guidance was desperately needed. So many "IT" dev shops have been placating the Agile gods for years, while pulling, poking and in some cases "forcing" business to come along for the ride.
When I ask a client “where can we make improvements in your software build process?”, they most often described pain usually revolves around the “product owner” and their ability to participate in the process of designing and developing the right business outcome. Well -- kind of…I made that second part of the statement up, since some IT dev shops still make the mistake of associating desired functionality with a perceived business outcome, while not even knowing why they are building the software. The product owners they usually bring to the team are still traditional “go-betweens” with the business and IT and still provide “how they want something built”, rather than doing the market and user research to create actionable insights into the problem’s customers face, the solution requirements, and the solution context. On the contrary, with a design thinking, customer centric product owner, software development can accelerate and provide the right solutions at the right time - efficiently and cost effectively. The overview of this aspect of SAFe 5.0 "Customer Centricity" provides great context into where the business needs to be in this new "Age of Software & Digital"
With a major emphasis on the overall Business Agility transformation of today's enterprises, SAFe 5.0 had to adjust a few areas of previous versions to remove the focus on "development teams" and broaden the concept of agile teams to the business as well. This is a good thing. This is the right thing. Customers are the ultimate beneficiaries of the solutions created by the business, and knowing the market and mindset of the customer, is paramount to building the right solutions that compete in the marketplace. Where the technical teams define, build, test and deploy value, the business teams collaborate with them to provide a range of support, including: guardrails and other business parameters; infrastructure; legal guidance; fitness for use; solution knowledge; and others. Both types of teams strive for fast learning by performing work in small batches, assessing the results, and adjusting accordingly. All SAFe Agile teams include two key roles: the Scrum Master and Product Owner. Those have travelled the journey from 4.6 to 5.0.
As I was taking the 5.0 Upgrade certification (yes, I passed), the one interesting area of change I will be spending more time on is around "Measure and Grow". Now I know most of our clients are either in the early stages of “getting real” when it comes to adopting Lean Agile, but it’s the principles of measuring what "good is" and "what success is", not only in the process to deliver value to customers, but the underlying maturity of an organization to execute that strategy. The Business Agility Self-Assessment tool is rich and comprehensive. It helps you investigate your organization and see where you can identify growth opportunities, which in turn, will make you a better organization delivering the right business solutions/outcomes, at the right time. I see this as a well-positioned offering by Magenic to coach and guide our clients as they are on a journey to be better software development organizations.
To read more about making your business more Agile, read our recent white paper here.
Excerpts taken from © Scaled Agile, Inc.
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