You could argue that the evolution of SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework®) started in 2009 when Dean Leffingwell started work at Nokia - the first Agile delivery at significant scale which Radtac was part of.
Later in 2011, based on his industry experience, Dean authored “Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise”. You could say this was SAFe v0.1 because it does include the first Big Picture.
Agile Enterprise Big Picture: Scaled Agile Delivery Model, Courtesy of Dean Leffingwell
However, SAFe v1.0 was formally released in late 2011. With four major updates since the initial release, SAFe has grown with the marketplace and continues to be a work in progress.
In October 2013, I decided to find out more about SAFe and attended a SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) class in London along with my colleague, Randal Cooper. Little did I know at the time that Martin Burns was in the same class - more about Martin later. Dean himself taught the class.
Fortunately after three days of intensive training and a searching exam I qualified as a SPC. This allowed me to help organisations implement SAFe and also train Leading SAFe courses which conduct to a Scaled Agilist (SA) qualification.
I think it is fair to say that in 2014 the interest in SAFe was limited in the UK, the real appetite probably existed on the other side of the pond.
We now know that over 60% of the Fortune 100 US companies have certified SAFe practitioners and consultants already on site. We started to see that trend in 2015, and over the last year or so I have personally delivered over a dozen Leading SAFe courses both as public and private training.
Seeing that the need for SAFe training was increasing, Radtac decided to invest further in training other SPCs within our organisation; to-date we have 9 SPCs.
Also, in 2015 Martin Burns (remember him from the London class?) organised the inaugural SAFe Leadership Retreat in Scotland, which was attended by Dean, and other founders and SAFe Fellows from Scaled Agile, Inc (SAI). I was privileged to attend along with other SPCs from the community and industry.
Witnessing the unquestionable growth of the Scaled Agile Framework, Radtac decided to become a Gold Partner for Scaled Agile, Inc., in order to support this growth and promote the framework that helps organisations apply Lean-Agile principles at enterprise scale.
This was a significant step for our organisation, but also for me personally, having championed SAFe within Radtac. In addition, it also meant that I could now be nominated to become a SAFe Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT), the highest level of certification provided by SAI.
The certification would allow me to train SPCs, who effectively are the Lean-Agile change agents within organisations.
However, the criteria and selection process is not a walk in the park, as the eligibility requirements were some of the most rigorous standards I have seen in a certification program.
First, I needed to be nominated by my company, which was reviewed by SAI to make sure that I met the minimum field experience. This included proving that my knowledge was up-to-date by taking another challenging exam on the latest version (4.0) of SAFe, and passing the exam with a mark greater than 90% - they set the bar high at SAI. Fortunately I did pass.
The exam was followed by an interview with Drew Jemilo, a SAFe Fellow and Principal Consultant at SAI.
Finally, I was accepted as a SPCT candidate, and so I hopped on a plane to Boulder, Colorado, for a week’s intensive training – four 12-hour days, with a healthy dose of jet lag to overcome. The training also included a Masterclass by Dean and Alex Yakyma (another SAFe Fellow at SAI), plus a class challenge for the candidate SPCTs to produce an instructional webinar on identifying Value Streams.
Check out the Value Stream Workshop (Available in the members only area to SPCs and SPCTs.)
After a demanding week spent with 10 other hard-working SPCT candidates from Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and the US, we learnt that we were all officially eligible to tackle the next set of requirements. Each of us now has a personal set of objectives to complete, and then a final SPC course pairing to pass before we can be officially ratified as SPCTs, and join an elite group of only 37 SPCTs worldwide.
I just want to say that the camaraderie and collaboration between fellow SPCT candidates embraced the Agile principles to the core. I am sure that going forward we will continue to collaborate – why wouldn’t we?
Darren Wilmshurst with the SPCT Class of March 2016 along with Dean Leffingwell, Alex Yakyma, Drew Jemilo, Jennifer Fawcett from Scaled Agile, Inc.
Martin Burns was part of the SPCT Class of December 2015. He also organised the second SAFe Leadership Retreat in Calgary at the beginning of this month, which I have just returned from. Watch out for a future blog on the Retreat in the near future.
It’s been a fantastic experience and I am looking forward to the next SAFe event. In the meantime, I will be busy working on my objectives to complete the requirements to become a SPCT. Wish me luck!
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