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SAFe Practice Tips: Program Increment (PI) Planning Part 3

11-Apr-2018 11:10:00 SAFe How-To SAFe 4.5 PI Planning
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Safe PI Planning diagram

*This post is part of the series ‘SAFe Practice Tips’, which aims to offer helpful advice to anyone using SAFe.

Here is the final part of the SAFe PI Planning Tips series where I discuss the Planning Retrospective. This is the final activity of the Program Increment (PI) Planning event. If you haven’t checked out our previous Tips of the SAFe Practice series you can check them out here: Part 1 and Part 2


“The RTE leads a brief retrospective for the PI planning event to capture what went well, what didn’t, and what can be done better next time.”  - Scaled Agile Framework


My experience with the PI is that, whilst energising and exhilarating, it also exhausting! By the time you get to the final confidence vote, people are ‘done’! They just want to get home.


The enthusiasm for the Retrospective definitely wains and yet it is so important because I want to make sure that the next PI Planning is even more awesome!

I have done the full-on room retrospective but I have also been experimenting with other options.

I have tried feedback back forms that everyone completes before they leave but they are completed in a hurry and you don’t get the collaborative part of the retrospective, just an individual view.


I have also tried doing a survey the day after, but as soon as you create a ‘gap’ you lose the immediate recall of what went well or what didn’t. Plus, I find that you don’t get a 100% response, in fact you’re lucky if you get 80% responses even with chasing.

My current preferred way of doing the Planning Retrospective is something that is more ‘immediate’.

On the exit door from the PI Planning Room I post a ‘Happy Face’, an ‘Indifferent Face’ and an ‘Unhappy Face’.


Then, at EVERY break, I remind the room to make sure that they post any feedback on the previous session on the exit door.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 11.50.45

Not only is this active feedback (immediate recall), but it also gives me a sense of the mood in the room and potentially things I can change NOW! Again, why wait until the next planning event when you can address some of the feedback now?


Also, throughout the two days I continually "affinity-group" the feedback, so that by the end of Day Two all I want the room to do is just DOT VOTE on the key things they want to improve for the next PI.


This is my last part in the series of Practice Tips for PI Planning.  I do hope you have found the tips useful and can apply them to your PI Planning. If you have any tips please share – I am always looking for better ways of running the event.  Hopefully there will be more tips I can share with you too.


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Darren Wilmshurst

Darren Wilmshurst

With his strategic C-suite-oriented approach to IT leadership – and his infectious energy – Darren has successfully delivered multi-million pound business transformations for e-commerce sites, ERP implementations, outsourcing and offshoring, including multiple Agile transformations. Read more