Mapping Your SAFe Transformation


Posted in: Agile Transformation, Digital, News

By: Jeff Hensley

BCforward’s thought leaders on the Digital Strategies and Innovation team are excited to share with our readers this series on SAFe for Leaders.  Over the next several weeks we’re going to share blogs of real-life experiences from our team of SAFe Program Consultants (SPC’s) leading up to our panel discussion of thought leaders bringing their perspectives on the SAFe journey to a virtual stage.

Road-mapping for success can be an intimidating undertaking for an agile organization. Even thinking about the exercise itself raises questions. Where will the group be next quarter? How is success measured in this increment of delivery? Can we put tangible value in the customers’ hands? Team member responses to these questions will differ.

Honest & Transparent Leadership

Since there is so much room for interpretation, it is essential to create a shared understanding by fostering an honest and transparent environment. Only then may these different visions align into one that is shared by the group, and by extension, the organization. Aligning and communicating a common vision provides a clear destination for the IT/business partnership. Communicating the vision clearly can be difficult and filled with anti-patterns but there are several ways to incorporate the vision throughout an interaction to ensure continued alignment and success.

Building a Common Vision

The common vision is created from the input of all the individuals and teams working together within a value stream. Multiple disciplines work together to provide distinct viewpoints to shape the vision. Working in a transparent environment allows for active participation in the creation and communication of the vision. In scaled enterprises crafting the vision is done in the weeks leading up to Program Planning. Input from architecture, product, and leadership help define the direction of the organization. In large planning sessions, the vision is tweaked and confirmed by the skilled individuals tasked with executing it. Successful collaboration between strategy and execution results in a shared vision which serves as the basis for the roadmap.

Sharing the Vision

Once the vision has been accepted and approved the vision can be communicated. There are many ways to broadcast the common vision based on the target audience. Channels that may be appropriate include: commonly used portals, office posters, or published on a customer-facing website. Publicizing the output of the team’s alignment ensures all individual contributors to the vision have clear guidance on how to best act. If the common vision is not easily found, its guiding power will be lost over time.

One way to ensure continuing conversation around the common vision is to incorporate it into ceremonies. Comparing sprint goals to the vision can help align incremental work to the group’s vision. The vision can also be incorporated into each team’s demo or iteration review. Present the vision ahead of the demo content to allow stakeholders to see the incremental progress towards the outcomes that the vision is advocating for. There is never a bad time to visit the vision!


Watch for Anti-Patterns

Collaborating on a common goal to share with the entire organization is a reason to celebrate. Along this journey, there might be counterproductive activities known as anti-patterns. There are a couple of anti-patterns to watch out for when creating and communicating the vision:

  • Avoid allowing the vision to be disrupted by a senior leader. It is deflating when a group can come together to craft and promote their vision only to have it derailed by one individual. A strong leader will try to understand the vision, making constructive conversation along the way to ensure that vision fits the organization’s broader goals.
  • Avoid pressing on with the vision without addressing all concerns during planning. Large group planning should have time built into poll confidence on the vision. If there is no consensus or if concerns remain, take the time to review the plan until the vision is acceptable by all.

Aligning to a common vision can bring individuals participating in a team’s approach together to achieve a common goal. I wish you continued success on your learning journey. Trying new techniques can be stressful, but if done together can catapult teams from showing up to showing off.

Join us on Wednesday, May 26 at 2 pm EST to continue the conversation and learn more about “SAFe Transformation for Executives”. Click the button below to register!