What Problem are we Solving Anyway?

When Leadership can't actually lead, they default to using frameworks and consultants to fill the gap. No framework can fix bad organization.

We are in the middle of adopting Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise. As part of this, the Dude has been through SAFe Leading Agile v5.1 training, as well as the SAFe Product Owner / Product Manager training programs.

His projects are not in the first or the second tier for the transition, so while it isn't affecting him today, he has a bird’s eye view of the process as it rolls out.

A lot has been written about the Scaled Agile framework, but succinctly, it is a way to map traditional organization structures to an “agile” working environment. In its full glory it has layers of management, and levels of stakeholders, building program increments that feed agile release trains, and focusing the work of multiple agile teams.

Our “business unit” has about 600 total people and several levels of management, so the mapping to agile-adjacent roles is probably a good thing.

But the Dude has questions.

Last week, we got to spend two full days in the PO/PM training, with our constellation of product owners, drinking the kool-aid, and trying to make sense of how it will work for our rather non-linear content creation pipeline. The Dude's take away was that he isn't sure that this will make us any more functional.

On Friday, the Dude had a couple of calls with his boss (who also attended the training), and he brought up that looking at how our business works, and what SAFe brings to the table, that it looked like we are trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.

While the Dude’s boss didn’t dispute this, he did drop this on the Dude:

“We have major issues with our development process, and senior leadership has decided that SAFe Agile is how we will fix our development team’s dysfunction”

Seriously, we have a completely fucked up development team, and instead of actually addressing their major dysfunction, we are just going to make them use SAFe Scaled Agile.

I’ll be honest, the Dude wasn’t sure how to respond to that. It seems to be in the class of the child who while being whipped with a belt, being told by their angry father that the child mad him do this.

“The Beatings will continue until morale improves”.

NB: THe Dude's first stepfather beat the everloving shit out of him with his belt, and indeed told the Dude that the Dude made him beat him. Yeah, it was fucked up.

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