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10 Things You Need to Know About SAFe 4.0

Rally Agile Blog - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 18:01

Today, Scaled Agile Inc. — the Dean Leffingwell organisation that owns the Scaled Agile Framework®, or SAFe® — announced SAFe version 4.0. Here are the 10 key things you need to know about it.

1. SAFe 4.0 Represents a Leap Forward and Much Community Input.

The SAFe “Big Picture” alone has gone through over 100 version-labeled changes, and the guidance behind it has been evolving since the launch of 3.0 in 2014.

SAFe 4.0 is the result of significant practitioner input over 2015. One major influence was SAI’s engagement with builders of large systems — for example, in aerospace and automotive — that have hundreds or thousands of engineers, requiring integrated delivery across software, hardware and non-technical capabilities. Originally this was going to be a context-specific branch, SAFe for Lean Systems Engineering, but practitioner input was to use this new learning and fold it into the SAFe mainline. SAFe 4.0 therefore is not simply a “Scaled Agile Framework” but “SAFe 4.0 for Lean Software and Systems Engineering.”

An early version of 4.0 that integrated this work was previewed at the SAFe Leadership Retreat in May, where 50 leading practitioners worked on it over the course of two days, with further input at a “paint’s still wet” pre-release during October’s SAI Partner Summit.
Live hacking on the Big Picture as leading practitioners give input to the future SAFe 4.0 at the SAFe Leadership Retreat. Six consultancies and two multinational organisations using SAFe are represented in the front row alone. (Photo: Martin Burns)

2. SAFe 4.0 is a Modular Framework.

As a result of the large systems work the Framework now scales up to a much greater size, growing to support the integration of multiple parties with very large product organizations. However, organisations at the single team of teams size are still effectively supported, as the larger-scale components are all modular; you start simple and lightweight, only adopting what you need as you need it. SAFe 4.0 principles and practises beyond simple Scrum/XP start to be usefully adoptable as soon as you hit multiple teams coordinating in a program.

In particular, concepts about Vision, Roadmap, Metrics and teamwork around DevOps, Systems and Release Management can apply at all levels.

3. SAFe 4.0 Is a Principles-based, Adaptable Framework.

This adaptability is echoed throughout the Framework: you are expected to adapt it to your context. A major area of growth has been a stronger abstraction and articulation of the core theory behind why the practices work. What has emerged is a strong body of profound knowledge about systems thinking in product development environments, backed up with practical experience across many environments to provide a starting set of answers to the CIO’s question, “How do I make it work?”

Implementors are still expected to think for themselves, however, and use the core principles and values to undertake the inevitable adaptation required to meet each context’s specific needs. Given the right theory, this is significantly de-risked from blindly copying practises without understanding.

You can download a poster of the SAFe Principles from the SAI site.

4. There’s a New (Optional) Level: Value Streams.

Implementing SAFe in the largest organisations, such as those with software-integrated hardware systems, means that software often needs to coordinate with partner organisations and other deliveries from beyond the software team of teams. The aligned effort far exceeds the number of people who can work together as a single Agile Release Train (ART), but is not treated as a portfolio.

To support this, SAFe 4.0 includes a Value Stream layer to provide support when multiple ARTs and organisations need to be coordinated. However, recognising that this is a step too far for many other organisations that only need the Portfolio > Program > Team flow, it’s optional — represented by a collapsing layer in the Big Picture. Note that smaller organisations still do have Value Streams (as this is how value flows through the organisation) but as this may only be a single ART, the Value Stream practises and roles are optional at this size.

With the introduction of Value Streams, SAFe enhances its Requirements Information Model with Capabilities, a cross-ART coordinated set of functionality that is Prioritised from a backlog, realised by Features and subject to Acceptance Tests as its Definition of Done.

The new level introduces a closely bound trio of roles (together with associated ceremonies):

  • Value Stream Engineer: A servant leader very similar in role to the Release Train Engineer

  • Solution Management - Primary Content Authority: A Product Owner for the whole Value Stream Solution

  • Solution Architect/Engineer: Person with lead technical responsibility for the solution’s architecture and engineering

5. Kanban Is a First Class Citizen.

Building on SAFe’s existing focus on flow, the end-to-end value flow of content from Ideation to Realisation is visualised and managed in an enterprise Kanban system.

Kanban can also be used directly at all levels (not just with the Portfolio) integrating strategic alignment with local emergent context and using economic prioritisation pervasively. At the sharp end, Delivery Teams can use Scrum, Kanban or a hybrid, depending on their needs.

6. We Learn from Lean Solution Design Approaches.

With learning from long-standing product development and engineering communities that go back to the Wright Brothers, SAFe brings their experienced understanding of managing uncertainty in solution design to a younger industry. Lean Product Design (as opposed to Lean Manufacturing) has wrestled with these problems for decades, and has long valued iterative approaches that retain and explore multiple options through learning loops over simply implementing single-point “perfect” designs and struggling to make them work as they progress through a set of stage gates.

Using approaches such as Set-based Design and Model-based System Engineering, SAFe 4.0 supports evolution from highly variable uncertainty towards an increasingly well-understood and fixed solution by exploring contextual constraints and options through modelling, simulations, integrated prototypes and other studies.

7. Finance Principles Challenge Project Cost Accounting.

SAFe 4.0’s core financial thesis is that agile software development and traditional cost accounting don’t match: where people are brought to funded scope, too often the outcome is increased cost of delay and a blame game that destroys hard-built trust and transparency.

Accepting that in contemporary software-intensive environments the “temporary organisation, temporary work endeavour” project model assumption no longer applies, SAFe 4.0 instead proposes funding sustained delivery capacity through Value Streams (which may only be a single ART, depending on the organisational context), long-lived endeavours that house the delivery work organisation.

While initial financial governance is achieved through approval of lightweight business cases in Epics, spending authority is then devolved to the delivery work organisations, empowering them to make decisions using decentralised economic principles.

SAFe 4.0 offers practical support for operating these principles, including guidance for answering the CapEx/OpEx questions when operating outside a projectised stage gate environment.

8. SAFe 4.0 Recognises and Encourages Communities of Practice.

Building cross-functional teams risks throwing the learning-and-support baby out with the silo-thinking bathwater. It’s certainly true that there’s huge value in cross-team, peer-to-peer sharing, and advancing practical knowledge on common areas of interest, whether it’s based on job roles, methods or business unit experience. In your organisation, you might call these Disciplines or Guilds, but they do the same thing. SAFe recognises the value of these communities and directly encourages them.

9. Enablers Realise Indirect, Longer-term Value.

SAFe 3.x’s understanding of and support for Architectural Epics, Features and Stories has broadened into Enablers at Epic, Capability, Feature and Story levels, which usually fall into Exploration, Architecture or Infrastructure types.

10. Classes for Change Agents, Leaders and Teams Are Changing.

The three key certification classes have been redesigned by the practitioner and trainer communities for SAFe 4.0, to be more strongly founded on principles.

  • The old SPC class has become “Implementing SAFe with SPC Certification,” with a strong context-based workshop component.

  • Leading SAFe has new content.

  • SAFe ScrumXP is now “SAFe for Teams.”

Want to learn more? Agile University will be teaching SAFe 4.0 in its public classes starting in January 2016.

Martin Burns
Categories: Companies

Fun Video: Bloopers from the Scrum Myths Video Series

Learn more about transforming people, process and culture with the Real Agility Program

The Scrum Myths videos have been popular and I’m very happy with people’s comments about the videos.  I’m going to be making an even more extensive new series for publication in just a few weeks.

Unbeknownst to me, the videographer, my brother Alexei Berteig, created a bloopers video from some of the many, many, many, MANY mistakes I made while making the videos.  I hope you will watch it…. but I strongly recommend taking a look at one or two of the “good” videos first.  Try these:

Scrum Myth – Excessive Preparation

Scrum Myths – Stretch Goals are Good

Now, without further ado, here is the Scrum Myths Bloopers video:

Learn more about our Scrum and Agile training sessions on WorldMindware.comPlease share!

The post Fun Video: Bloopers from the Scrum Myths Video Series appeared first on Agile Advice.

Categories: Blogs

Socrates Canaries, Gran Canaria, Spain, March 10-13 2016

Scrum Expert - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 14:00
Socrates Canaries is the Spanish stage of the International Software Craftsmanship Gathering, a series of events for open-minded software developers who want to improve their craft and the software industry as a whole. The local Software Craftsmanship community in the Canary Islands organizes it. The agenda of the Socrates Canaries International Software Craftsmanship Gathering follows the rules of the open conference where the participants create themselves ...
Categories: Communities

Agile Retrospective Kickstarter added to the Retrospectives Books Bundle

Ben Linders - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 13:06

The Agile Retrospectives Books Bundle has a new addition: Agile Retrospective Kickstarter by Alexey Krivitisky.

Cover Agile Retrospectives KickstarterThe Retrospective Cheat Sheet lets you create numerous unique agendas for your retrospectives. This book provides the details to the exercises based on the team mood, size, proximity. It is a handy kickstarter for people interested to start up or spice up their agile retrospectives.

Patrick Kua, Ben Williams and Tom Roden, Taina Caetano and Paulo Caroli, Jutta Eckstein, Alexey Krivitsky and Luis Gonçalves and I have published books about agile retrospectives on … Continue reading →

Categories: Blogs

Is It Really Okay to Fail?

Leading Agile - Mike Cottmeyer - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 13:00

Failing because you made an informed choice, took a calculated risk, or even made a bet, understanding the odds were against you… is fine.

Failing because you were sloppy, didn’t do your homework, didn’t work hard, or didn’t care is a totally different kind of failure… and isn’t fine.

It is different failing from acts of commission than failing from acts of omission.

I tell my team often to error on the side of movement. To error on the side of doing what’s right. If we are trying new things and we fail… so be it.

What drives me nuts is failing because we knew what to do and just didn’t do it. Failing when we knew the truth and didn’t tell it.

If we are going to fail… it is important to fail fearlessly… and for the right reasons.

The post Is It Really Okay to Fail? appeared first on LeadingAgile.

Categories: Blogs

Listening To Awareness

Agile Thinks and Things - Oana Juncu - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 11:34
Sintra Park , PortugalWaking-up at a new level of awareness What about heading each day for a new level of awareness , like intentionally reaching a gate which allows access to knowledge , connection and tolerance ? Beyond being a biological ability, listening is a skill. Like all skills it needs training. There is something particular about training listening skills . It helps discovering ourselves and eventually shift the view on our ecosystem. And you may be astonished how many solutions are emerging just by observing.  
Happy New Listening in 2016 ! Are you ready to be surprised by what you'll discover ?

Ready to Observe When I'm brushing my teeths in the morning, , I ask myself :
- How ready am I to listen today?
- How do I intend to drop the "voice of judgement" and the "voice of fear" today ( from the TheoryU) . I don't recognize myself as a "voice of cynism" representative, so I don't yet focus on this one . I should , as there no such thing as the filters that we apply to ourselves.
- How will I be able to let things happen on their own agenda , observe them, and enjoy all the unexpected values they can bring?What are the questions are you asking to your mirror in the bathroom each morning? Leading from the Future There is experience, there is now,  and there is hope. In experience lay all the answers to the "morning-bathroom questions" we already gave and lived by .Observing my world as it is today, is an infinite potential.  Now here is the kind reminder : Observing means  really "unjudgmental" observing. I mean, really! When you grab that toothbrush this morning ( or the door of your office , or your cell phone ...) think you are a three year old kid , or imagine you are an alien on an unknown planet,  amazed by your journey on Earth. As a good observer extraordinary ideas may just pop into your mind . I had in 2015 an epiphany about the "active" part of what is called "active listening". Before  this attitude will get turned in another  fancy inter-relational tool , I  realised that active means that things are really changing just by observing . Other people attitude , the knowledge about ourselves and our ideas of how the future can be .
So, let' get ready of tomorrow :   What question would you like to ask yourself in the bathroom each morning for the next days of the year ? 

Related Posts Manage like A PirateWhy I Am Not A Change Agent 
Categories: Blogs

Xmas backstage

TargetProcess - Edge of Chaos Blog - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 10:23

Hello friends,

The holidays are over and we are glad to see you again. Last year we prepared the special greetings for you. Our team congratulated everyone who dared to press play on the popup personally in the live mode. We didn’t have a chance to greet everyone of you, so we prepared a small gift for those of you who missed our greetings. Check our video with funny moments to give you the spirit of these magical greetings.


Have a magical year, full of joy and happiness.

Your Targetprocess team


Categories: Companies

Kicking Off LeadingAgile 2016

Leading Agile - Mike Cottmeyer - Sun, 01/03/2016 - 20:16

This time of year is always a great time for me. As a consultancy, what happened in November and December has already happened. There isn’t anything we can do to influence it.

January is similarly fixed because there isn’t much you can do to get people busy if it’s not already on the books.

We put a ton of energy into making sure we close our old year well and are set ourselves up for the first month or two of the new year.

What that means from a business perspective, is that the last two weeks of December, and the first two weeks of January, are incredibly quiet.

This is my 6th year running LeadingAgile and there is a clear pattern emerging. When I get the noise of running the company to quiet down, I get creative and want to write.

Over the past few weeks I’ve shelled out something over 20 blog posts that I just need to type up and get on the site.

We’ve been working on company strategy and have a ton of changes in the works for the website as we build out infrastructure to explore the new directions.

We’ve got Agile2016 in our home town this year and are looking forward to throwing the biggest party you’ve seen at an agile conference… ever.

As a company, we’ve put a ton of energy into building a rock solid business infrastructure and plan to fully leverage that infrastructure to do some cool things in the new year.

I’m super excited to get 2016 going. Looking forward to having all you guys along for the ride!

The post Kicking Off LeadingAgile 2016 appeared first on LeadingAgile.

Categories: Blogs

Welcome to SAFe 4.0!

Agile Product Owner - Sun, 01/03/2016 - 19:14

We are excited to announce this new release of the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®). Version 4 features extensive refinements to many elements of the Framework, as well as new content and guidance that helps enterprises better organize around value delivery, develop systems that include hardware and software, and improve development, coordination, and delivery of large value streams.

To help with the migration to 4.0, SAFe 3.0 remains available and supported at

SAFe 4.0 incorporates learning from all prior releases—including the SAFe for Lean System Engineering development branches—into a single, more scalable and more modular framework. To address the broader set of capabilities, SAFe has a new name: SAFe 4.0 for Lean Software and Systems Engineering.

Below is a summary of the major content changes to SAFe; for the indepth view please refer to What’s New in SAFe 4.0.

  • SAFe now supports both software and systems development
  • A new Value Stream Level—including new roles, activities, and artifacts—is provided for those building the world’s largest systems
  • The Big Picture can be expanded or collapsed to three or four levels. The default view is the three-level version (3-Level SAFe), which is simpler and lighter weight than its 3.0 predecessor. Three-Level SAFe is backwards compatible with SAFe 3.0, so those currently operating with 3.0 can continue to do so, or migrate easily to this new version.
  • With one click, the Framework expands to four levels (4-Level SAFe) to handle the most demanding needs of large value streams and complex systems development
  • Enterprise Kanban systems manage the flow of work across all levels
  • The SAFe Requirements Model has been updated to reflect additional backlog items and to clarify the expressions for each
  • Built-in Quality practices now support software and systems development
  • A new Foundations layer supports those critical underpinnings that drive the Framework and program execution
  • A new Spanning palette carries roles and artifacts applicable to multiple levels, increasing modularity and customizability
  • An improved main menu bar provides quick and easy access to information on SAFe training, implementation, partner support, community, resources, and more

In addition to the new 4.0 content, all the 3.0 articles have been updated as well, so there’s much to learn, and gain. For those of you certified as SPCs, we’ve provided a What’s New in SAFe 4.0 Video that will help you learn about the new features, and upgrade your certification so that you can support enterprises seeking SAFe 4.0 implementation.

It is our sincere hope that this new version helps you and your enterprise achieve the benefits you all deserve for working so hard at building the world’s biggest, and best, software and systems. And, as always, SAFe knowledge remains freely revealed, for all to use.

We owe a special thanks to you, our SAFe community, for all your feedback and support. Your passion for the best SAFe possible has driven us to deliver what we now like to think of as the most adaptable framework in the world.

—Dean, Alex, Richard, and Inbar

Dean Leffingwell, CEO and Chief Methodologist
Alex Yakyma, SAFe Principal Consultant and SAFe Fellow
Richard Knaster, SAFe Principal Consultant and SAFe Fellow
Inbar Oren, SAFe Principal Consultant and SAFe Fellow

Categories: Blogs

2015 in review using numbers - Sun, 01/03/2016 - 17:38

Although I recently ran a personal retrospective, I also like looking back at the past year using different models to recognise progress and celebrate events.

Picture of numbersImage sourced from eye/eye under the Creative Commons licence.

Here’s how 2015 went for me in numbers:

Categories: Blogs

Prime Your Mind for 2016

J.D. Meier's Blog - Sat, 01/02/2016 - 23:21

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” -- Louis Pasteur

The future is either created or destroyed by the decisions we make and the actions we take.

It's 2016 and change is in the air.

For some people, this time of year is their favorite. It's a time of year filled with hope, possibility, and dreams. 

For others, this is a horrible time of year, filled with despair, shattered dreams, and bitter disappointment.

Either way, let's get a fresh start, as we turn the page for a new year.

Let's give ourselves permission to dream big, and re-imagine what this next year could be all about.

Prime Your Mind to Empower Yourself and Your Business for an Amazing 2016

If you don't know what priming is, it's a psychology concept that basically means we embody the concepts and stereotypes we're exposed to.  For example, if we see the color yellow, we find the word banana faster.

You can use priming in a very pragmatic way to inspire your way forward.  Rather than hold on to old beliefs, mental models, and references, you can fill your mind with examples and ideas for new possibilities.

I've written a fairly exhaustive approach to how you can prime your mind for 2016:

Prime Your Mind for 2016

But I'll summarize some key ideas in this post so you can get started stirring up your big bold ambitions for the new year.

3 Key Ideas to Prime Your Mind with for 2016

The big ideas really come down to this:

  1. People examples of transformation. Fill your head with examples of how people have created amazing personal transformation.  TED Talks are a great source of inspiration and examples of how people have transformed themselves, and in many cases, how they are helping transform the world around them.
  2. Technology examples of transformation.   Fill your head with examples of how the mega-trends are shaping the world through Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data.  Fill your mind with examples of how the mega-trends are coming together in a “Nexus of Forces” as Gartner would say, to change the world.  Fill your mind with examples of the mega-trend of mega-trends – the Internet of Things – is re-shaping the world, in extraordinary ways.  Read Future Visions, a free download by Microsoft, to get a glimpse into how science fiction could shape the science around us.
  3. Business examples of transformation.   Fill your head with examples of amazing examples of how businesses are driving digital business transformation.  Read NEXT at Microsoft to see some of the crazy things Microsoft is up to.  Read customer stories of transformation to see what Microsoft customers are up to.  Explore what sorts of things customers are up to on the Industry Solutions page.   For some truly phenomenal stories of digital transformation, check out what Microsoft UK is up to in education, business, and society.
Your Personal Preparation for 2016

Here is a quick way you can use books to help you prepare for the world around you:

  • Read a book like Leading Digital to get the overview of how digital transformation works.  You can see how companies like Starbucks and Burberry drove their digital transformation and you can learn the success patterns of business leaders who are leading and learning how to create customers and create new value in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.
  • Read books like Consumption Economics to fully grasp how value creation is throttled by value absorption – the ability of users and consumers to use the value that businesses can now create in a digital economy. 
  • Read books like B4b to see how companies are shifting to business outcomes for customers and helping customer achieve new levels of value from their technology investments. 
  • Read books like the Challenger Sale to learn how to go from somebody who pushes solutions to somebody who becomes a trusted advisor for their client and learns how to 1) teach, 2) tailor, and 3) take control.   Teaching is all about knowing your stuff and being able to help people see the art of the possible and sharing new ideas.  Tailoring is all about making ideas relevant.  It means you need to really understand a client’s pains, needs, and desired outcomes so that whatever comes out of your mouth, speaks to that.  Taking control means asking the right questions that drive conversations, strategies, and execution forward in an empowering way.
  • Read books like The Lean Startup to learn how to create and launch products, while making better, faster business decisions.   Learn how to innovate using principles from lean manufacturing and agile development to ship better, and win more raving fans.
  • Read books like Scaling Up to master the four key decision areas: people, strategy, execution, and cash, to create a company where the team is engaged, customers are doing your marketing, and everyone is making impact.  It includes one-page tools including a One-Page Strategic Plan and the Rockefeller Habits Checklist.
  • Read books like The Business Model Navigator to learn how businesses are re-imaging their business models for a mobile-first, cloud-first world.
  • Read books like Anticipate to put it all together and become a more visionary leader and build some mad skills to survive and thrive in the digital economy.
  • Read a book like Getting Results the Agile Way to help you master productivity, time management, and work-life balance.

Best wishes for a 2016 where you create and live the change you want to see.

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Categories: Blogs

Scaling Agile and DevOps Summit in Brussels

Ben Linders - Sat, 01/02/2016 - 12:48

The Agile Consortium and Unicom are organizing the Scaling Agile for the Enterprise conference on February 4. Parallel with this event the DevOps Summit is held. Both conferences will be at the Herman Teirlinckauditorium at KBC Bank in Brussels, Belgium. I will be covering these one day conferences for InfoQ.

Scaling Agile Enterprise BrusselsAt this second year of the Scaling Agile for the Enterprise conference we will bring together stalwart thought leaders on Agile Leadership like Jurgen Appelo, Christopher Avery, Jenni Jepsen, Dave … Continue reading →

Categories: Blogs

Got “museum sleepies”? Illustrating mastery, learning and ego depletion

Thought Nursery - Jeffrey Fredrick - Sat, 01/02/2016 - 12:34

At a certain point in reading Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast & Slow I realized I had discovered a possible explanation for the mystery of “museum sleepies”. Museum sleepies is my wife‘s term for the fatigue we feel after a rather short time in a museum, a term we’ve used much more frequently since moving to London. I know this is a common experience, and a search will find various explanations, both physical and mental. What I got from Kahneman is a better model of what’s happening to us, and — very exciting to me as a learning nerd — a testable prediction.

The focus of Kahneman’s work is decision theory, and the title mirrors the model of cognition he uses. We can imagine that our mind has two systems for processing the world and making decisions. System 1 is fast and intuitive (think Blink), unconscious, involuntary, and cognitively cheap. System 2 is our deliberate, conscious, analytical thought process that is also, unfortunately, both slow and cognitively expensive. Most of the book is an explanation of how our reliance on System 1 results in predictable cognitive biases. To get there Kahneman first describes experiments to establish a measure of mental effort, evidence that all types of mental effort draw on the same limited pool of resources, and that engaging our System 2, focusing our attention and performing deliberate analysis, draws off that limited pool.

In the larger world the findings Kahneman describes have serious implications in terms of ego depletion and decision fatigue. In our tour of the museum there isn’t much at risk, but it struck me as a application of the same findings. After reading Thinking, Fast & Slow my model for the museum sleepies is that I’m using my System 2 to analyze one artifact after another and that this is draining my limited pool of mental energy. This model leads me to predict that someone trained to analyze the artifacts wouldn’t suffer the same effects. The trained person would see the same artifacts differently because they would have a set of prebuilt patterns and categories to draw upon. They would notice the patterns largely through System 1; System 2 efforts would be brief and efficient. Finally, I expect I could use deliberate practice to train myself to understand some class of artifacts, and that henceforth I would no longer suffer the same fatigue when viewing that type of collection.

I’ve spent a lot of effort in the past few years trying to develop my abilities to promote organizational learning. Much of my focus has been on the Action Science approach to effective communication. Another part of it has been trying to teach the scientific mindset that learning is about detecting and correcting error, which we can do by making testable hypothesis and testing them. I don’t plan to conduct any cognitive psychology experiments with art historians, curators, and artists, but I love the fact that someone could. This museum sleepies story has become part of my arsenal for illustrating some important concepts in cognition, in training, and in theory making. I hope you find it useful too.

Categories: Blogs

SAFe Version 3.0 Available Through December 2016

Agile Product Owner - Fri, 01/01/2016 - 21:03
SAFe 3.0, Release Date July 28, 2014SAFe 3.0, Release Date July 28, 2014

The new version of the Framework, SAFe 4.0 for Lean Software and Systems Engineering, provides greater modularity than its predecessor with a dynamic collapse/expand capability. The collapsed view, “3-Level SAFe,” is backwards compatible with Version 3.0, preserving the skill sets of current SAFe practitioners, and providing an easy upgrade path for enterprises invested in the 3.0 version of the Framework.

We encourage you to upgrade to SAFe 4.0 to take advantage of the new features, but recognize that there are enterprises that will need the ‘classic’ 3.0 version for some time to come, so it will be supported throughout 2016, and is available at

The complete set of 3.0 courseware—Leading SAFe, SAFe Scrum XP, PM/PO, and PPM—will continue to be available as well.

Read more about the new Framework at What’s New in SAFe 4.0.

—The SAFe Team

Categories: Blogs

Explore Out of the Box

Evolving Excellence - Fri, 01/01/2016 - 18:30

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. – Ralph Emerson

It’s that arbitrary time of the year when many folks reflect on the past and set goals for the coming year.  I enjoy reading how other people in the Lean world approach this activity as planning, hoshin, and reflection, hansei, are core components of Lean.  Karen Martin just went into hers with some nice detail, and I especially like the ritualistic aspect of her process.  Matt May has described his in the past as well, with a nod to Seth Godin’s “shopping list” concept.

I have a similar process that I’ve alluded to in a few previous posts.  Each year toward the end of December my wife and I take a vacation to someplace nice and quiet.  Instead of playing tourist to visit a bunch of new places like we usually do in the summer, this trip is purposely to have some R&R, reconnect, and recenter.  This latest one, from which I returned just last night, was two weeks at a beach house on Nevis, with nothing to do except relax, eat, talk, and watch the sunset.  And, for me, perform my annual ritual.

I take a look at my journal – a well-worn Moleskine (usually volumes 1, 2, and 3 by the end of the year), compare the plan to what happened, read the notes, and generally reflect on the year.  Although the process has weekly, monthly, and quarterly components, the end-of-year reflection is the most intense.  What did I achieve, what did I miss, what countermeasures do I need to put into place, and what should I do the next year.

This is all fairly standard, and many folks do it.  It eventually turns into what I call “My Shibumi” – after Matt May’s book, The Shibumi Strategy, and also because it somehow makes me think of My Sharona by The Knack, a band I unexpectedly partied with a couple decades ago.  I create key goals for the upcoming year, usually a couple each in categories such as physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and professional.

But the most important goal I set is my “do something different” goal.  This is the one that stretches me out of my comfort zone, challenges my perspectives and biases, and helps turn me into a well-rounded human and citizen of the planet.

I’ve had this type of annual goal for about twenty years, initially informally but very formal for the past decade or so.  Earlier ones were fairly physical, like ski five European countries in six days, learn to windsurf, dive, and hang glide, and run a full marathon.

As I’ve become older they have become more intellectual, such as a deep dive into Buddhism and last year’s exploration of the history of the Bible.  I read over a dozen books on the topic, and it really opened my eyes to the complexity of the 500,000 variants resulting from intentional and unintentional translation and transcription errors, Church politics, and archeological methods.  I’ve also learned to program HTML, rebuilt a 1973 Triumph Spitfire, explored being vegan and vegetarian (ending up as a “pescatarian” for the past decade), and quit a great job at a great company to do my own thing.

I’m by far not the only one that creates such annual stretch goals.  Consider Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.  He has had goals to learn Mandarin, meet a new person each and every day, only eat meat he butchered himself, and write one thank you note each day.

He choses the goal after an analysis of the gap between where he is and where he wants to be.  A key outcome is that he learns something new, and often unexpected. Trying to learn Mandarin taught him that he didn’t listen well and a year of killing animals made him consider becoming vegetarian. The goal to meet a new person each day, which he achieved by giving face-to-face chats at schools, helped him understand the personal side of problems with immigration policy. Those secondary effects are often more important and meaningful than the original goal itself.

So what’s my goal for 2016?  I toyed with the perennial “get into shape” but after only a couple months on Paul Aker’s Lean Health program, I’ve lost over 15 pounds and am in the best shape I’ve been since the 1990s.  If you want to get into shape by leveraging Lean, get his new book.  I also thought about a deep dive into minimalism and simplicity, but my wife and I have been doing that at a less intense level for several years so I decided it wasn’t radical enough. The slow and steady improvement was working well.  I’ve wanted to finish a book on the nexus of Lean and Zen, but I pretty much did that also while on Nevis (stay tuned!), so that’s out.

One Hundred Years of SolitudeI’ve decided on another intellectual pursuit to broaden my horizons.  I’m going to read one of the top works of literature from each of the major ethnic groups or geographical areas – European, Latin American, Chinese, Hindustani, Arabic, African, and so forth.  It should work out to roughly one a month.  I’ve decided to start this month with Latin American.  Since I’ve already read several books by Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel Prize winner I met in Peru many years ago, the first one will be One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, also a Nobel Prize winner.

How will you explore out of the box this year? Perhaps more importantly, how will you ensure you actually do it, and why?  You’ll probably be amazed at what you learn about yourself – and the world.

Categories: Blogs

Pretend they are mind reading

Thought Nursery - Jeffrey Fredrick - Fri, 01/01/2016 - 11:30

At the prompting of Douglas Squirrel I just read Yossi Kreinin‘s blog post People can read their manager’s mind. This seemingly magical power is the mundane result of combining “People generally don’t do what they’re told, but what they expect to be rewarded for”, and people are good at spotting what is actually rewarded. As a manager/leader I’m taking away a heuristic I want to test:  when I’m not able to get alignment with my stated goals I’m going to pretend the team is reading my mind, and that they are heeding my hidden thoughts rather than my words. From that mindset, what does that suggest about my own values? The results aren’t likely to be flattering. I embrace the idea that “the only way to deal with the problems I cause is an honest journey into the depths of my own rotten mind.

(As much as I embrace that message for myself, I’d warn non-managers from seeking solace in the article, from using it as a shield to deny their own accountability. Yes, the article says that it is an “insane employee” who will work to fix important but unglamorous problems, and that “the average person cannot comprehend the motivation of someone attempting such a feat”. Do you find solace in being average? In being powerless? I don’t. I think it is worth always seeking to improve, and to improve the organization I’m part of. I believe someone out there could improve the situation I’m in, so if I’m frustrated it is probably my fault.)

Categories: Blogs

Wrapping Up 2015

DFW Scrum User Group - Thu, 12/31/2015 - 23:39
It’s the last day of 2015, and it seems only appropriate to tie up loose ends with a short post about our year.  I continue to be amazed by the energy and dedication of our community.  Our membership grows each … Continue reading →
Categories: Communities

The Best Books I Read in 2015

J.D. Meier's Blog - Thu, 12/31/2015 - 20:56

Back by popular demand, here is my Best Books I Read, 2015 edition:

The Best Books I Read in 2015

As you may know, I read a lot of books.  I find it’s the best way to keep up and get ahead at Microsoft. 

I don’t just read technical books.  I read a wide variety of books, including mind, body, emotions, career, finance, relationships, and fun.

The common theme across the board is how to hack a better you.

I find that the more I learn across the board, the easier it gets to improve productivity, personal effectiveness, and impact at work.  And the bonus is that this spills into life.

This year, I spent extra effort on more health hacking.  We’re up against some pretty bad odds … 1 in 3 people die of cancer, but it used to be 1 in 80.  I in 4 get diabetes, but it used to be 1 in 4,000.  The good news is that there is some tremendous insight if you know the right books.

I also spent some extra energy focused on disruptive  innovation and digital transformation.  Again, some things can seem like magic until you know how the magic is done.  All of the magic tricks are revealed if you know the right books to read.

The Best Books I Read in 2015 is effectively the short-list from the very long list of books that I read in 2015.  Reading has always been one of the best ways for me to learn new ideas and new things to try.  I continue my quest for the world’s best insight and action for work and life, and I hope that some of the books I’ve included in my list turn out to be game changers for you.


Categories: Blogs

2015: A year in the life of the Neo4j London meetup group

Mark Needham - Thu, 12/31/2015 - 15:58

Given we’ve only got a few more hours left of 2015 I thought it’d be fun to do a quick overview of how things have been going in the London chapter of the Neo4j meetup using Neo4j with a bit of R mixed in.

We’re going to be using the RNeo4j library to interact with the database along with a few other libraries which will help us out with different tasks:

graph = startGraph("http://localhost:7474/db/data/", username = "neo4j", password = "myPassword")

Let’s get to it:

query = "MATCH (:Group {name: {name}})<-[membership:MEMBER_OF]-()
         RETURN membership.joined AS timestamp"
joinedDF = cypher(graph, query, name = "Neo4j - London User Group")
joinedDF$joinDate = as.Date(as.POSIXct(joinedDF$timestamp / 1000, origin="1970-01-01"))
joinedDF$joinDate = as.Date(as.POSIXct(joinedDF$timestamp / 1000, origin="1970-01-01"))
ggplot(aes(x = year, y = n, label = n), 
       data = joinedDF %>% mutate(year = format(joinDate, "%Y")) %>% count(year)) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", fill = "Dark Blue") + 
  ggtitle("Number of new members by year") +
2015 12 31 12 23 06

A bit down on 2014 but not too far away. We’re still attracting new people who are interested in learning about graphs. Let’s drill into those numbers a bit:

byYearMon = joinedDF %>% 
  filter(format(joinDate, "%Y") == 2015) %>% 
  mutate(yearmon = as.Date(as.yearmon(joinDate))) %>% 
ggplot(aes(x = yearmon, y = n, label = n), data = byYearMon) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", fill = "Dark Blue") + 
  theme(axis.text.x = element_text(angle = 90, hjust = 1)) +
  scale_x_date(labels = date_format("%B"), breaks = "1 month") +
  ggtitle("Number of new members by month/year")
2015 12 31 12 39 04

We had a bit of an end of year surge in October/November which was unexpected. December has been low in previous years, there was an April dip which I think is because we stopped doing events before Graph Connect 2015. I’m not sure about the September dip so let’s have a look:

eventsQuery = "MATCH (:Group {name: {name}})-[:HOSTED_EVENT]->(event)
               RETURN event.time + event.utcOffset AS timestamp"
eventsDF = cypher(graph, eventsQuery, name = "Neo4j - London User Group")
eventsDF$timestamp = as.Date(as.POSIXct(eventsDF$timestamp / 1000, origin="1970-01-01"))
eventsByYearMon = eventsDF %>% 
  filter(format(timestamp, "%Y") == 2015) %>% 
  mutate(yearmon = as.Date(as.yearmon(timestamp))) %>% 
merge(eventsByYearMon, byYearMon, by="yearmon")
      yearmon n.x n.y
1  2015-01-01   3  80
2  2015-02-01   6  76
3  2015-03-01   2  70
4  2015-04-01   2  53
5  2015-05-01   4  78
6  2015-06-01   5  83
7  2015-07-01   3  73
8  2015-08-01   5  73
9  2015-09-01   3  40
10 2015-10-01   3  94
11 2015-11-01   4 117
12 2015-12-01   3  48

At first glance there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between the number of events held and the number of new members so I think we’ll have to look for another predictor of that variable!


Next let’s have a look at the events we ran in 2015. We’ll start with a quick chart showing the number of events we’ve run over the years:

ggplot(aes(x = year, y = n, label = n), data = eventsDF %>% mutate(year = format(timestamp, "%Y")) %>% count(year)) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", fill = "Dark Blue") + 
  theme(axis.text.x = element_text(angle = 90, hjust = 1)) +
  ggtitle("Number of events")

2015 12 31 13 43 15

So less events than last year but how many people RSVPD ‘yes’ to the ones we did host?

eventsQuery = "MATCH (:Group {name: {name}})-[:HOSTED_EVENT]->(event)<-[:RSVPD {response: 'yes'}]-()
               WHERE event.time + event.utcOffset < timestamp()
               WITH event, COUNT(*) AS rsvps
               RETURN event.time + event.utcOffset AS timestamp, rsvps"
eventsDF = cypher(graph, eventsQuery, name = "Neo4j - London User Group")
eventsDF$timestamp = as.Date(as.POSIXct(eventsDF$timestamp / 1000, origin="1970-01-01"))
ggplot(aes(x = year, y = rsvps), 
       data = eventsDF %>% mutate(year = format(timestamp, "%Y")) %>% group_by(year) %>% summarise(rsvps= sum(rsvps)) ) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", fill = "Dark Blue") + 
  theme(axis.text.x = element_text(angle = 90, hjust = 1)) +
  ggtitle("Number of attendees")
2015 12 31 13 54 50

Slightly more ‘yes’ RSVPs than last year. Now let’s drill into the repeat events we ran this year:

eventsQuery = "MATCH (:Group {name: {name}})-[:HOSTED_EVENT]->(event)
               WHERE {startYear} <= (event.time + event.utcOffset) < {endYear}
               RETURN AS event, COUNT(*) AS times
               ORDER BY times DESC"
eventsDF = cypher(graph, eventsQuery, name = "Neo4j - London User Group", 
                  startYear  = as.numeric(as.POSIXct("2015-01-01", format="%Y-%m-%d")) * 1000, 
                  endYear = as.numeric(as.POSIXct("2015-12-31", format="%Y-%m-%d")) * 1000)
eventsDF %>% filter(times > 1)
                                                       event times
1                      Relational to graph: A worked example     7
2                                            Intro to Graphs     6
3                          Graph Modelling - Do's and Don'ts     5
4          Hands On Intro to Cypher - Neo4j's Query Language     3
5 Build your own recommendation engine with Neo4j in an hour     2
6                                Fraud Detection using Neo4j     2

I thought we’d run ‘Intro to Graphs’ most often but the data doesn’t lie – it’s all about relational to graph. And which were the most popular repeat events in terms of ‘yes’ RSVPs?

eventsQuery = "MATCH (:Group {name: {name}})-[:HOSTED_EVENT]->(event)
               WHERE {startYear} <= (event.time + event.utcOffset) < {endYear}
               MATCH (event)<-[:RSVPD {response: 'yes'}]-()
               WITH event, COUNT(*) AS yesRSVPs
               WITH AS event, COUNT(*) AS times, SUM(yesRSVPs) AS rsvps
               RETURN event, times, rsvps, rsvps / times AS rsvpsPerEvent
               ORDER BY rsvpsPerEvent DESC"
eventsDF = cypher(graph, eventsQuery, name = "Neo4j - London User Group", 
                  startYear  = as.numeric(as.POSIXct("2015-01-01", format="%Y-%m-%d")) * 1000, 
                  endYear = as.numeric(as.POSIXct("2015-12-31", format="%Y-%m-%d")) * 1000)
eventsDF %>% filter(times > 1)
                                                       event times rsvps rsvpsPerEvent
1                                Fraud Detection using Neo4j     2   150            75
2                                            Intro to Graphs     6   352            58
3                          Graph Modelling - Do's and Don'ts     5   281            56
4                      Relational to graph: A worked example     7   367            52
5 Build your own recommendation engine with Neo4j in an hour     2    85            42
6          Hands On Intro to Cypher - Neo4j's Query Language     3   104            34

It looks like fraud is a popular topic although we’ve only run it twice so perhaps best not to read too much into that. We’re running that one again in a couple of weeks if you’re interested.

Ignoring repeat events let’s see which event drew the biggest crowd:

eventsQuery = "MATCH (:Group {name: {name}})-[:HOSTED_EVENT]->(event)
               WHERE {startYear} <= (event.time + event.utcOffset) < {endYear}
               MATCH (event)<-[:RSVPD {response: 'yes'}]-()
               WITH AS id, AS event, COUNT(*) AS rsvps
               RETURN event, rsvps
               ORDER BY rsvps DESC"
eventsDF = cypher(graph, eventsQuery, name = "Neo4j - London User Group", 
                  startYear  = as.numeric(as.POSIXct("2015-01-01", format="%Y-%m-%d")) * 1000, 
                  endYear = as.numeric(as.POSIXct("2015-12-31", format="%Y-%m-%d")) * 1000)
eventsDF %>% head(5)
                                                                         event rsvps
1 Neo4j Full Stack Applications + Python, R and Neo4j - The Data Science Stack   133
2                          Modelling a recommendation engine: A worked example   118
3                    Building a repository of biomedical ontologies with Neo4j   107
4                     GraphHack @ Graph Connect: The night before Election Day    91
5                                        Bootstrapping a Recommendation Engine    88

A double header featuring Nicole White and Matt Wright proved to be the most popular event of the year and in fact the most popular in terms of ‘yes’ RSVPs so far:

eventsQuery = "MATCH (:Group {name: {name}})-[:HOSTED_EVENT]->(event)<-[:RSVPD {response: 'yes'}]-()
               WITH event, COUNT(*) AS rsvps
               RETURN AS event, event.time + event.utcOffset AS time, rsvps
               ORDER BY rsvps DESC"
eventsDF = cypher(graph, eventsQuery, name = "Neo4j - London User Group")
eventsDF$time = as.Date(as.POSIXct(eventsDF$time / 1000, origin="1970-01-01"))
eventsDF %>% mutate(year = format(time, "%Y")) %>% dplyr::select(-time) %>% head(10)
                                                                          event rsvps year
1  Neo4j Full Stack Applications + Python, R and Neo4j - The Data Science Stack   133 2015
2                           Modelling a recommendation engine: A worked example   118 2015
3                     Building a repository of biomedical ontologies with Neo4j   107 2015
4                                                    Real world Neo4j use cases    98 2014
5                                                           The transport graph    94 2014
6                                                     The Visualisation Special    93 2014
7                  Impossible is Nothing by Jim Webber, Neo4j's Chief Scientist    93 2014
8                      GraphHack @ Graph Connect: The night before Election Day    91 2015
9                                         Bootstrapping a Recommendation Engine    88 2015
10                                    Scraping and Graphing the Apple app store    88 2015

3 of the top 4 belong to 2015 and 6 of the top 10. Let’s see what 2016 has in store.

Thanks to everyone who’s come along to one of our meetups and Happy New Year!

Categories: Blogs

Knowledge Sharing

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