7 Sessions Worth Attending at SAFe Summit 2018
SAFe Summit 2018

Is summer almost over already? It’s hard to believe, but the Sunday newspaper inserts are showcasing fall fashion, and there is probably a pharmacy selling Halloween candy somewhere.

It also means that you should have the first week of October blocked off on your calendar for SAFe Summit 2018, a gathering of professionals and educators all dedicated to the Scaled Agile Framework. You will need a full week too, as the schedule is packed with pre-conference training to consider, a bunch of sponsors to check out (including Targetprocess), and of course, a great selection of speakers to see and sessions to attend.

Whether you’re just getting started on an Agile transition, looking for new ways to think about leading an Agile team, looking for a glimpse of where the industry is headed, or all of that and more, there are any number of ways to spend your time in Washington. Here are seven sessions that we’re looking forward to.

SAFe Summit 2018 essential SAFe diagram

A diagram of the essential SAFe framework that you'll surely see at SAFe Summit 2018, made by Scaled Agile, Inc.

1. Introduction to SAFe

If you’re thinking about leading a scaled Agile overhaul for your organization, there is no better place to start than with an introduction to SAFe from one of New Zealand’s leading Agile coaches, Gillian Clark.

Gillian has guided many Agile transitions, including one for Livestock Improvement Corporation as they stared down a six-month deadline to develop and complete new software that could be ready for the “biggest agricultural trade-show in the southern hemisphere.” They delivered on time, crediting Gillian and Agile for making it possible.

In this session, Gillian is going to cover the “what” and “how” of SAFe, along with an overview of the essential elements. Even if you already have the basics under control, this early session on the first day will be a nice refresher before heading into the rest of the conference.

2. Organizing around value: leading the change

After a session with a great Agile leader, how about learning to be an Agile leader yourself. The transition to Agile requires a leader that has a strong vision for change, and you need to be able to promote that mindset to your team effectively. Inbar Oren is a SAFe fellow who has been helping organizations adopt Lean-Agile methods. He’ll talk through drafting a vision for Agile transformation, and the active role in advocating and leading that is required.

Along with this session on leading change, Inbar is holding another where he will dig deeper into the details of Agile. In “Extending DevOps to the Full Value Stream" he’ll help you understand your organization’s strengths and weaknesses with a “health radar” tool that was developed for a class he leads on SAFe DevOps.

3. The 7 habits of effective servant leadership

One mark of an effective Agile leader is being there to provide whatever your team needs from you, also known as leading from behind. This may be easier said than done when longstanding habits, especially in an organization that is just starting an Agile transition, run on a different philosophy entirely.

Em Campbell-Pretty will show you how to create new habits that allow you to support your team while updating long-standing culture at the same time. Along with almost 20 years in business management roles, Em is a SAFe Fellow and author of “Tribal Unity: Getting from teams to tribes by creating a one team culture.” In this session she’ll discuss the connection between servant leadership and lean leadership; look at how Japanese culture, the Toyota Product System, and servant leadership relate to each other; and discuss real-world practical habits that you can put to use right away.

4. The “ART” of value streams

Another key to Agile leadership is focusing the flow of work across your enterprise. Ken France is leading this workshop to help you organize your first Agile release train. Ken’s expertise is built on his experience as CEO of Blue Agility, a company that helps others adopt large-scale Agile deployments based on the SAFe framework.

In this session he’ll cover some tips and tricks for preparing for your first value stream workshop and real-world examples that you can draw from to use in your own planning.

And once your ready to get going, don’t forget that there are value stream management tools out there that will help you every step of the way.

5. 3 Things I learned since becoming an RTE

As you’re diving into SAFe and getting ready to set up Agile release trains, this session with Tamara Nation will provide some valuable insight to help you get started. Taking on the role of release train engineer is a big transition for traditionally trained program leaders. Tamara will cover three important patterns that she has recognized in becoming an effect RTE.

Tamara has held a variety of roles in software, from engineer, to developer, to guiding other teams in their adoption of Agile methods. She is now the first release train engineer for Scaled Agile, Inc.

6. Developing Lean-Agile leadership skills - a personal journey

Dean Leffingwell is a co-founder of Scaled Agile, an author of two books on Lean-Agile practices, and a leading authority on all things Lean-Agile. He’ll also be giving a keynote address on building a Lean enterprise. For this session though, Dean is looking back at his own experiences and what he has learned along the way. He has seen a lot as a startup founder, author, and software development methodologist, and he’s here to help you translate those experiences into your own work as an Agile leader.

7. Is the future SAFe?

SAFe Summit 2018

Dean Leffingwell is just one of the many speakers you'll see at SAFe Summit 2018

Dean isn’t only here to look backward, of course. This session is going to be a wide-ranging discussion, covering, in part, the current state of business at Scaled Agile, Inc., of which he is a co-founder. He’ll cover trends he sees shaping the technology market, and how he sees those trends shaping SAFe in the future. It’ll be an open-ended look into the future and provide plenty to think about on your way back home at the end of the summit.

Looking forward to SAFe Summit 2018

So now that summer will soon be winding down, a little working vacation in Washington, D.C. might be just the thing to look forward too.  Which sessions are you most excited about at SAFe Summit 2018?