One of the amazing transformation leaders I’ve been working with recently asked for more good ideas for continued learning: “Beyond the SAFe Community are there other national groups or forums you might recommend I get plugged into to keep up to speed on Agile and SAFe? Looking to stay better abreast of industry trends, and with a hopeful emphasis on how these practices are being leveraged in financial services.”
Have additional ideas to share? Please add them in the comments on LinkedIn!
Continue to Learn Within Your Business
When you’ve been delivering on a program or product using agility for over a year, and you’re seeing what works and what doesn’t in your organization, how do you continue to learn and improve?
In an agile business, we adopt cadences of learning from other amazing humans in our company–and that’s critical. Look for the bright spots, the challenges, the potential innovations in:
- inspect and adapt sessions
- quarterly business steering
- communities of practice
- other groups’ PI planning and other big room planning (BRP) sessions
Form a Cohort of Transformation Leaders
Start reaching out to others leading change in similar institutions: Form your cohort of change agents not only within your business but across different businesses (ideally both inside and outside your industry).
To find people you are interested in speaking with more, I suggest a couple of different starting points:
1. If you’re already working closely with other financial companies through partnerships, board relationships, etc, ask them to connect for a shared lunch & learn. (Yes, over Zoom is actually perfect for this. Make sure you use your great facilitation techniques to make sure it’s collaborative and fun!)
2. Conferences are great, even online: You can hear presentations by others in similar roles and situations (but usually a year or two after they’ve completed the work). A few I recommend to get started as they have loads of good examples and stories and a handful of great speakers:
Also: Have your Gartner or Forrester analyst hook you up with others in related industries, and/or look who is speaking on this at their conferences, giving webinars with analysts.
3. Ask the agile/lean/devops products and services companies you use to speak to their thought leaders! These leaders often need to look both within and across industries, and are generally friendly, thoughtful, resourceful humans. Ask them for their favorite speaker, article or book they’ve seen be helpful in your industry. Reach out to that human, too.
Keep Collaborating, Reading, Watching, Listening
Ask your cohort what they read and listen to. I love to follow, read, and listen to people who are always curious about how companies and humans can continue to improve, and there are several subjects I’ve found helpful, too:
- I love Gene Kim and the amazing humans he surrounds himself with. Emphasis: Systems Thinking, Transformation, DevOps. Read (with eyes or ears–suggested format included in link): The Phoenix Project, The Unicorn Project, Accelerate. Listen to The Idealcast.
- Recently my co-founder Eric turned me on to the Mik+1 PodCast. And if you haven’t yet read Mik Kersten’s Project to Product, it’s time to do that, too.
- Speaking of co-founders…there are so many reasons I wanted to start a company with Eric Willeke and Ronica Roth. They are brilliant and always, always learning and sharing more about helping create successful, sustainable transformation: improved value delivery and happier humans. Check out their blogs.
- Learn about problem spaces… how to explore them more effectively! Read about Innovation, Design Thinking and Jobs To Be Done. I love Ash Maurya’s Running Lean, and Geoffrey Moore’s Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past and Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption
- Read about SAFe competitors. There are alternate takes on scaling and there are reasons for each, with much you can learn about the systems. Remember to look for what’s similar and what’s not: A funny thing I hear people say is “oh, we’re not doing X, we’re doing Y”… without being able to explain why except that the other one “didn’t work”. Ugh. Keep thinking about value flow, delivering better together, working better together. Apply those lenses when you’re learning about other solutions. I don’t have a favorite comparison article these days, but here are some of the names to get you started: SAFe, Spotify, LeSS, DAD, Nexus, Remote:AF.
- Study systems thinking, individual and group dynamics and business systems, end especially how value is perceived, created and flows in these systems. We will have several lists of books coming up, but here are a few of my favorite reads–books and publications with articles I share frequently:
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (great metaphors, helpful stories and lots of links to other research)
Dare to Lead (great insights into human behavior and the stories we tell ourselves)
The Advantage (great summary of so many of Patrick Lencioni’s learnings and models)
The Economist (the insights into leaders, countries, businesses are helpful systems thinking exercises)
What are your favorite resources?
How do you continue to learn? What resources do you love? What books do you most often recommend, most often give away? Add your thoughts in the comments on LinkedIn.