It’s about the People NOT the framework

I’ve been hearing little murmurings…..

“SAFe is great because we can still keep watch over everything”

“Reporting will be robust with SAFe.  We’ll know how each team is doing at all times.”

“We’ll need really good Integrated BSAs and Tech Leads to monitor and approve the decisions.”

There’s NO PASS ON THE CULTURE CHANGE with SAFe, Scrum, Kanban or any other Agile framework.  I’m very serious about this.  SAFe is still based on Agile values and Principles.  The great picture doesn’t mean you don’t have to change the way you think.  It doesn’t.  I believe, when done correctly, it makes it less scary to change culturally but there MUST be change.  When you look at the picture, turn it upside down.  Team on top and Portfolio on the bottom.  It’s STILL about delivering value to the customer and the people, on the teams, are the ones who do it.

You can’t realize the full benefits of Agile until the culture change starts.

I’ll say it another way.

If you want to realize the full benefits of Agile, you will need to change the way you view people and work.

Here’s another way.

When you do not change your culture and Agile doesn’t work it will be because you didn’t change your culture.

Do not blame Agile.  Do not blame Scrum.  Do not blame SAFe.  SAFe is an excellent framework to learn how to apply the Agile/LEAN values and principles. So is SCRUM. Neither is a silver bullet.  The silver bullet is your brain and it’s ability to change.

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3 thoughts on “It’s about the People NOT the framework

  1. I love your emphasis on people. The people involved are the only ones who are going to solve the problem and act to deliver the solution. We trust teams of people that consistently deliver reliable solutions over a sustained time. This is due to an ability to prioritize, and to be predictable. Our aligned and convergent expectations on how large pieces of work are delivered in little bits. These 1’s and 0’s all come from people who are continuously improving everything around them. People working together; whether inside a team, or enabling a team. What is often forgotten is how to grow as individuals, how to work together as a mature team, and how to terra-form the environment so that these teams thrive.

  2. I have mixed feelings about this post. I think most people realize that you can’t change culture directly, so a lot of Agile tools are based on the idea that you have to change the management system or at least start thinking differently.

    To be fair Scrum and Kanban to pick two examples are pretty open and honest about the way the relate to culture. They don’t assume that a methodology change is all the is required, but they don’t assume you have to somehow change culture directly and separately. They blatantly present themselves as tools to support this change, and you can’t ask for more than that.

    SAFe on the other hand, seems to skip the culture issue, probably because culture change is hard to sell. It seems to focus on a moderate improvement in agility through structural changes within a traditional culture.

    You are definitely right that to realize any significant benefits the culture has to change, but it comes across as if you have to do this directly and separately to using Scrum and Kanban, and that Scrum and Kanban are just like SAFe in that they don’t recognize the need for and support cultural change. Is that right?

    • Hi Kurt and thanks for your comment. I believe culture change is fundamental to realizing the full benefit of Agile. Scrum, Kanban and the other others are all tools to help. I am right with you that SAFe seems to skip the culture part but, Kanban, Scrum and LEAN are all incorporated into the SAFe framework and culture is still a vital part part of a transformation. I do believe there’s a need to work on changing the culture directly and separately from the frameworks. Not everyone is on a team and those outside of it need different attention to support and enable those who are inside. Does that make sense?

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