One of my recent students from Implementing SAFe contacted me a few weeks after class and asked me what she should do now that she is an SPC. I’ve had this kind of request in the past, but the way she phrased it caused me to think about the question in a slightly different way. Her words were “I would like to hear some of your suggestions on where I can go with this SPC5.0 certification. Since I only have it for a year, I want to utilize it as much as possible, bring back max value to my organization. Would like to hear your valuable insights on the next steps, Dos and Don’ts for a new SPC in general.”

My general answer when I receive a question like this is “Try it. Apply the ideas to see how you can get impact in your organization. Work with others to create even more impact and learn as a group. Then, use this as the beginning of a learning journey to continue improving and developing your skills further.” After all, training is about the knowledge, not the certification, and the value of that knowledge is essentially zero if you don’t apply it.

However, while that general guidance aligns with my values and perspectives, I realized that it’s not always useful for somebody who has just been exposed to the ideas in the course for the first time and truly wants to understand more about where they can apply the ideas, skills, and knowledge that they picked up. So I put more thought into it, and this post is the result.

Big goals

The first thing I look at is if the organization already has larger goals for agility. If there is an agile transformation already happening, I recommend you look at what it is trying to achieve, what the business is hoping it will deliver in terms of benefits, and use those to see if there’s a way the new skills you picked up in the class apply can make an impact. If your organization is not in the middle of an agile transformation, or if you are in the middle of an activity-focused transformation, take the time to slow down and ask what benefits your company would truly value out of agility. We spend a reasonable part of the first lesson talking about why you would bother to adopt agile or SAFe in the first place, and looking at your company and the message you received from leadership around strategic goals, identify some benefits that you think are both feasible and desirable. Then, look through the course materials in your notes and think about where you can start applying what you have learned to achieve those goals.

Course goals

The second area I look for opportunity is in the list of course goals for the specific course you took. For Implementing SAFe, do you see ways that applying value stream mapping could immediately show opportunities for improvement? Do you think you could help with an ART launch that’s already happening, using your knowledge of the implementation roadmap? Can you use the values and principles of SAFe to improve how agile is already being used in part of your organization today? All of these are examples of how you could use the course content and goals as a tool to identify the places you could dive in and have an impact. when in doubt, start small, and join in activities that are already happening in your company. Lots of people look at the SPC certification as one that permits you to teach, but look to the value of applying the concepts first, and then later as you get more practice start to explore the value of teaching those ideas.

Personal goals

Finally, and perhaps most important in the long run, look to your own personal goals. What are you trying to achieve this year in your own growth? What capabilities do you want to have over the next several years that you do not have today, and how can applying what you have learned help you reach those goals? If you’ve thought carefully about the big goals and course goals, then you should have a long list of options. Use your personal goals to focus your energy on the things that you’ll enjoy and find personally rewarding.

Then, work with your peers and your leadership to find opportunities to apply your new knowledge in pursuit of those goals, perhaps even seeking new assignments and roles within the organization to support it. Perhaps there is a center of excellence that is open to new coaches developing their skills and growing into a more senior coaching role. Maybe there are programs that are moving into an agile working approach that are eager to have people that have been exposed to the knowledge and want to practice it. Framing what you desire in terms of useful outcomes frequently allows you to ask better questions and position yourself to gain the experiences you need to achieve those desires.