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The Rollout: A Novel about Leadership and Building a Lean-Agile Enterprise with SAFe® Kindle Edition
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This book gives you a good understanding what it means to implement SAFe in an organization. It’s a fictional story but on the other hand it is based on a broad range of real-life implementations and the pitfalls you can make or have to overcome.
In this novel we will follow Ethan, the newly appointed Transformation Team Leader at VeraComm System, a large product development organization. He is facing an organization who can’t deliver anymore what they are promising. They are rapidly losing market share due to increasing complexity of their communications solutions, they are over promising and underperforming. The organization has implemented half-baked agile methods at the team level but failed to scale up to the program and portfolio level.
Ethan desperately searches for a solution to help his organization find a way out. At a conference he attends a session by Adi, a SAFe consultant explaining what it means to really build large systems. Ethan was very impressed by the presentation and thought that this approach could be the solution to the problems he was facing.
In the story we see Nathan implementing SAFe. He wants to start as soon as possible with the implementation of a release train and here we see why, in SAFe, we say that management must be in the lead in the rollout. Reading the novel, we understand what it means if we think we can do without this involvement. It’s the company’s culture and the mindset which are the key to success or disaster.
With help of Adi, Ethan is capable to implement the first release train. We see what it costs to prepare and run a Program Increment Planning event and the value of real alignment between the teams. We follow him with his struggle to make this a success and we see what problems he is facing with the first program iteration and what the success is of real integration and management commitment.
To survive, the organization wants to copy the success of the first Agile Release Train, but they understand at a certain moment that this is not that simple. After a lot of brainstorming the concept of value streams and their ARTs becomes clear. Problem solved?
Not really. The new trains are not delivering. They are overloaded. What is lacking is the mechanisms of epics, their owners and a portfolio Kanban system including WIP limits for each process step. The story ends when Ethan presents his own SAFe success story during a conference.
Conclusion. A great book for senior management to understand the concept of SAFe. A little jigsaw piece, a give-away, in your road to convince senior management to lead the change towards enterprise agility.
“The Rollout” by Alex Yakyma takes the reader through the exciting tale of the implementation journey at VeraComm, a fictional enterprise. For Vera Comm, without a transformation there will be a higher cost. Learn new ways, or die.
Page after page the transformation comes to life as our hero; Ethan, leads his organization towards enterprise agility. This saga is based on a broad range of real-life implementation gotcha’s that are strategically placed, yet balanced over enough time for Ethan to share his experiences at the annual conference, where a year earlier he started down this SAFe journey.
Ethan; along with the guidance of Adi, and support from his wife Rachel, takes a courageous stand to make a case for change with the Vera Comm leaders. His message; they needed a new way of thinking as an organization.
Ethan is an individual willing to compromise his job by challenging the status quo, the organizational cultural norms, the enterprise way of thinking aka “Mr. Mindset”.
Witness the break through for new processes & new cultural norms as the leaders and teams of Vera Comm navigate the survival challenges they encountered along the way.
What a gift for us, the readers, as Alex shares a war chest of tried and true techniques and tools to support large-scale rollouts of SAFe Lean and Agile methods. Solving real problems with real solutions. A powerful learning tool in the novel itself, but the chapter diaries and Index are both full of insight into SAFe methods.
I would also add a couple more books to Alex recommendation;
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a business book by consultant and speaker Patrick Lencioni, published 2002.
Also, if you want a perspective of being a leader in a larger enterprise that needed to learn new ways or die, Jack Welch shares his experiences from his time at GE. Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book, by Jack and Suzy Welch, published 2005.
But Alex makes it work for “The Rollout”. I found it a fast, enjoyable read and it matches well with my own experience of SAFe adoption.
If you’re interested in this book but haven’t yet moved into SAFe, you’ll find this story to be pretty representative of what you would experience, both from the perspective of the actual win’s and obstacles for your organization and for you as a potential leader of this transformation.
If you’ve been through this process as an internal change leader or as an external consultant, you’ll take comfort that your experience is not so different than many other organizations. And you’ll pick up some great tips for moving your organization or your clients further along the improvement curve.
Alex does a great job of explaining many of the ‘why’s that make up the magic of SAFe, illustrating the connections between the integrated patterns that make up the framework.
If you are at all intrigued by the notion of scaling Agile practices, this is a must-read.
Most recent customer reviews
Written as a fiction story it describes introduction of the Scaled Agile Framework in a technology...Read more