Aug 2015


Context Matters selected as a panel provider for the ATO

After a year of successfully supporting the ATO with implementing the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Context Matters has been selected as a panel provider for SAFe services and training. 

In selecting Context Matters as a panel provider the ATO has recognised the unique depth of experience in SAFe offered by the Context Matters team.

Aug 2015

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Facilitating SAFe Team Self-Assessments

As part of an Agile Release Train’s commitment to relentless improvement it is necessary for all the teams on the train to reflect and assess the effectiveness of their Scrum and XP practices on a regular cadence. For most once a PI seems to be a logical frequency. The Scaled Agile Framework provides a self-assessment tool to support this process and makes it freely available for download at: http://scaledagileframework.com/art-metrics/

I have found clients often want to do self-assessments by sending them out as an online survey for team members to complete individually.  Personally I am not keen on this approach for a number of reasons. Firstly, most new agile teams don’t have a clear and consistent understanding of what good looks like, therefore, they tend to overstate their level of maturity. (The first time we conducted a self-assessment with the EDW Release Train, the most mature team gave themselves the lowest score and the least mature teams gave themselves the highest score!)

Secondly, by completing online surveys the team doesn’t have an opportunity to discuss their different perspectives and reach a shared understanding.  In my experience self-assessments provide an excellent coaching opportunity, especially if you are the only coach supporting an ART and doing so part time. Often this can be a simple as reminding them of what a 5 looks like and resetting their anchors. Even though an RTE can take a DIY approach to this, an external facilitator can be very valuable and as a coach this is your opportunity to ensure the assessment is only used for good and not evil.

Last year I was getting ready to facilitate the first round of self assessments for a new train and I got thinking about my approach to facilitating these session. My priority was to ensure that every team member got an opportunity to express their individual point of view. Which led to me contemplating how Planning Poker uses the simultaneous reveal to prevent anchoring. One idea I had was to create cards numbered with the 0 to 5 rating scale, but that felt a little boring. Then it came to me - the perfect combination of silent writing on post-it notes and a big visible information radiator…

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Jul 2015


Spotifying SAFe with Guilds, Chapters and Squads

Last month’s Agile Australia conference played host to both +Dean Leffingwell, the creator of the Scaled Agile Framework and +Anders Ivarsson, Spotify Agile Coach and co-author of the Scaling Agile @ Spotify paper. Those who were able to drag themselves (and their hangovers) out of bed early enough on day 2 of the conference were treated to an “Ask the experts” panel featuring both +Dean and +Anders, along with +Linda Rising and +James Shore.  I’m sure you won't be surprised to learn that it was not long before an audience member asked what might seem like the obvious question - SAFe vs. “the Spotify model”.

After the mandatory cringe from +Anders (the Spotify folk really wish the rest of us would stop calling what they do the "Spotify Model”), both +Anders and +Dean were quick to agree that it was not an either or question. To quote +Dean Leffingwell, "We had +Henrik Kniberg in class last week and I think it would be fair to say we learned a ton from him and I think they will learn a ton from us." As someone who has been using ideas from +Henrik Kniberg’s books and the Spotify folk since very early in my SAFe journey I must say I agree with the sentiment.

The first time I came across the Scaling Agile @ Spotify paper was when EDW Release Train Engineer +Wayne Palmer decided that the EDW Agile Release Train would benefit from creating a series of “Guilds”. Despite +Wayne's enthusiasm, I don’t think he got past telling us his great idea was “Guilds” before the rest of my leadership team laughed him out of the room, having quickly reached the consensus that “Guilds” sounded like something from Lord of the Rings and had no place on our Release Train! I remember +Wayne invoking the power of wikipedia in his eagerness to help us understand his vision. “According to Wikipedia, a Guild is a collection of artisans who are responsible for the practice of their craft.“, he argued. Resulting in only more laughter from the team. Not one to be easily deterred +Wayne took it on the chin and set about convincing me he was onto something...

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Jun 2015

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10% Discount on all SAFe Training Registrations pre 30 June 2015

We are offering a 10% discount on the early bird pricing for on all our upcoming Certified SAFe classes for those who register before 30th June 2015. To access this unprecedented discount, use the coupon code DEAN when registering online.

SAFe Agilist (SA) Certification, Melbourne, 31 August 2015

SAFe Agilist (SA) Certification, Sydney, 21 September 2015

SPC Training & Certification, Melbourne, 15 February 2016

May 2015

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Join us at Agile Australia in Sydney this June

Context Mattes is proud to be a Silver Sponsor of Agile Australia 2015.

Attendees at this year's conference will get the opportunity to hear from the creator of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Dean Leffingwell and hear first hand from the the team at RMIT University about "The ART of Accelerating Agility" using SAFe.

If you are thinking of attending the conference and/or the pre and post conference workshops, you can use the promotional code AA15-CM to receive a discount on your registration. More information on the conference and workshops is available via this link.

We look forward to seeing you in June.

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