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How do I transition from Waterfall to Scaled Agile?

The good news

The Scaled Agile Framework® offers a reliable, twelve-step implementation roadmap.

This roadmap details the recommended actions and common pitfalls of each step. Experienced Sila SAFe® Program Consultants (SPCs) can guide your organization through each step using the prepared training classes, templates, and ceremonies.

The reality

Waterfall-to-Agile is not a process change; it is more than that. It is a cultural change. Making the transition to agile is a significant undertaking, as you will be transforming the way your organization approaches work. Agile demands commitment to behavioral change by all. Your current habits took time to become entrenched, and they will take time to change. Waterfall is a command and control bureaucracy. Agile demands more; it’s a “hierarchy of competence.”

Where to start

It is essential to begin this transition with conversations addressing why the organization wants to move to agile and what agile benefits the organization seeks. Experienced SPCs will also review your current environment and your business context.  The SPCs can then tailor an agile transition unique to your organization.

Timing depends on training

Timing depends on your timetable. It’s critical to train the internal leaders of the transformation. It’s not unusual for it to take a few months for ‘calendar-challenged’ executives, leaders, and managers to set aside two consecutive training days. This is a litmus test – without full leadership support, evolving to genuine agile is not possible. Leaders must lead the change by modeling and then coaching agile.

Work begins

The first Program Increment (PI) Planning occurs, and work begins! The ART will have embedded coaches to provide daily guidance.

Additional teams of teams launch in the same manner once the first ART is stable. Note that the agile transition is not yet ‘done’ but rather stable. It takes time to understand agile. First, we understand (training), then do agile, then improve our agile practices. Continuous improvement towards Lean and Agile never ceases, even as you begin to reap the rewards.

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