Day Two :: SAFe Training – I Love Jazz

February 25, 2020

In my early teens I fell in love with classical music. The complexity, the endless combinations of notes running across a scale telling a story; reaching deep within the soul. As one master piece inspires the next, much of this music reaches levels of near perfection.

On the other hand there was jazz. I could never figure out jazz. I struggled to find a unifying focus. The story it told was leaving me confused. Yes, the musicians were talented and they poured their heart and soul into their music, but I just couldn’t get it. Then came along “Jazz Kamp”. While living in Kranj Slovenia, my youngest daughter won a contract to create a promotional video for this annual event. Being her backup, I helped her record, kept notes, and talked with the musicians and listened in on their lectures.

As the groups jammed, they often stopped and wrote down what they had just played. They tried numerous variations and kept at it until they had the sound they could all support. It was not random or accidental. When they were done, every note had a purpose. After watching this process, I began to understand the “pattern” of random cooperation. Not much different than self-organized teams pushing toward a collective goal.

Most of the Agile frameworks, and organizations guiding those frameworks, leave plenty of room for creative application, as long as the goal of Agility remains in clear view. This creative license can leave many practitioners and organizations with the feeling that a bit more form could help. As an Agile “jazz” professional I appreciate the freedom to learn, dig, question, explore as we help individuals and organizations discover their journey. I would never want to give up that freedom. However we need to respect the brilliance of structure, complexity and coordinated movement.

As we worked through PI planning today, I was reminded of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Each planning phase was like a concerto Each team in the Agile Release Train interacted with, in, and across teams to arrive at a commitment to common set of objectives. I was reminded that complex forms are not bad, they are simply different.

It you think about an apprehensive organization facing an Agile transformation out of fear for their own survival, it is not hard to understand why they prefer a framework that offers structure and a form that they can generally understand.

Until tomorrow, I remain #safeopen.

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