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Scaled Agile Framework

Big Room Planning: What inspires participants

13 April 2017
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Reading time: 2 minutes

“What elements of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) would you reuse in non-SAFe environments?” A colleague recently asked me this when he was standing in front of a poster of the SAFe Big Pictures. One of these elements is PI planning. I’m not the only one with that opinion. PI planning is used as Big Room Planning in large projects that don’t (yet) make SAFe.

Six Group: Big Room Planning at Zühlke

Recently I was able to carry out a Big Room Planning for a client project of the SIX Group as host, moderator and coach in our premises. More about this in the following video:

The feedback from the participants and the client was overwhelming. We have deliberately not yet exhausted the full potential of the methodology. What inspired the participants? The following points stood out from the feedback:

1) On the program board you can see the dependencies of the different teams from each other. Which team promised something and when? Which team depends on it to complete something? The project manager – in SAFe the program management – sees which team has taken care of a feature and has this team as contact person. The board was affectionately called Spaghetti Board by a participant. He doesn’t want to miss it anymore.

2) Common understanding: In order for the teams to be able to fill their sprints – in SAFe iterations – the big target image for the next quarter or half-year must already have been worked out at program level and prioritized and cut at a higher level. Everything must be ready for the start of Big Room Planning.

3) Cohesion: During the two days the teams, some of which were newly formed, got to know each other better. Not only the own team was more familiar to the new employees, but also important players from the sister teams and the program. Important stakeholders were also present and involved in the exchange.

4) Decisions are made: There are no open questions because all decision-makers are in the room. All arguments can be heard and evaluated immediately and decisions can be made.

5) Checklists: If the teams are in the planning stage – in SAFe Team Break Outs – there are regular meetings with the Scrum Masters. SAFe has prepared checklists for this purpose. These sensitize the Scrum Masters to what still has to happen in their teams. However, it is also asked whether the teams still lack information or stakeholders.

6) Last but not least – the catering: Fruits, sweets and free drinks, which are always available, help the participants to feel comfortable and to concentrate on the most important things. A lunch together leads to further exchange.

After planning is before planning. The preparation of the program team for the next quarter or half year – in SAFe Program Increment – begins now. The inclusion of individual team members from the base also. Due to the retrospective on planning, it is clear what needs to be done even better. I look forward to continuing the journey with these teams.

What about you? Are you planning in the big room? How do you proceed?

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