Agile Release Train (ART), per SAFe, “… is a long-lived team of Agile teams, which, along with other stakeholders, develops and delivers solutions incrementally, using a series of fixed-length Iterations within a Program Increment (PI) timebox. The ART aligns teams to a common business and technology mission.”
Join us as we explore “Building High-Performing ART” — a 7-part series. These concepts are not just for the ART but are also applicable to Agile Teams, and at home as well.
To build a high-performing ART, you have to be the servant-leader and coach to the ART. Apply a “servant-leader and coach” approach — the sweet spot between directing approach and laissez faire (delegating) approach.
Agile teams and teams of Agile teams are self-organizing and self-managing; however, they need support from time to time. This is where the “servant-leader and coach” approach comes in.
According to SAFe, servant-leaders include the following: 1) Listen and support teams in problem identification and decision-making; 2) Create an environment of mutual influence (think of King Arthur and his knights of the round table); 3) Understand and empathize with others; 4) Encourage and support the personal development of each individual and the development of teams; 5) Coach people with powerful questions rather than use authority; 6) Think beyond day-to-day activities– apply systems thinking; 7) Support the teams’ commitments; 8) Be open and appreciate openness in others.
SAFe further added that there are transformational patterns (“from” and “to” states) for a traditional manager moving to a servant-leader role. The ‘from’ and ‘to’ states are: 1) From coordinating team activities and contributions to coaching the teams to collaborate; 2) From deadlines to objectives; 3) From driving toward specific outcomes to being invested in the program’s overall performance; 4) From knowing the answer to asking the teams for the answer; 5) From directing to letting the teams self-organize and hit their stride; 6) From fixing problems to helping others fix them.
One common temptation — when the team has a problem and the team members are looking out to you for an answer — is to provide a solution to problem and start being prescriptive to the team. Don’t do that. Nip this bad habit in the bud as soon as you catch yourself doing this. Instead, coach the team with powerful questions…they then think more about the situation and have them solve it in their own way and within their context. This way, you are supporting your team’s quest to a fully self-managing and self-directing Agile team — or team of Agile teams — sooner rather than later.
This aforementioned “servant-leader and coach” approach is also applicable at home for raising self-managing and self-directing kids. This “servant-leader and coach parent” is the sweet spot…which is in between the “Tiger parent” and the “laissez Faire parent“.
Whether you are building a high-performing ART or raising self-directing and self-managing kids, as a servant-leader and a coach [parent], always aim for the spirit of ‘ONE TEAM’!