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    March 10, 2024

    The Value of the Value Stream & ART Identification Workshop

    In the dynamic world of Agile methodologies, continuous improvement stands as a beacon, guiding organizations toward greater efficiency and effectiveness in delivering value. During a recent conversation with a team member, I was reminded of an often overlooked yet pivotal component of this journey: the Value Stream and ART (Agile Release Train) Identification Workshop. 

    Let's explore the essence of this workshop and why revisiting this foundational step can be a game-changer for aligning stakeholders and optimizing the flow of value through your organization, even if your ARTs are already up and running.

    Imagine setting sail without understanding the currents and land masses. That's what launching an ART without the foundational clarity provided by a Value Stream Identification Workshop can feel like. 

    My journey with SAFe, dating back to the days of SAFe 3.0, offers a candid illustration of the pitfalls that can arise when this step is bypassed. 

    I stumbled with my first ART launch—which didn't include a Value Stream Identification Workshop. While we recovered and significantly exceeded targets, this experience underscored the critical importance of organizing around value, a principle so vital that it was enshrined as the tenth principle in SAFe 5.0.

    But why revisit this workshop if your ARTs are already operational? The answer lies in the nature of business and organizational dynamics: over time, things change. People come and go, strategies evolve, and what was once a perfectly aligned arrangement can gradually, or sometimes abruptly, drift into misalignment. 

    The Value Stream and ART Identification Workshop serves as a strategic realignment tool, ensuring that everyone—from executives to team members—is on the same page about what value streams exist, how they flow, and how they are supported and enhanced by the ARTs.

    My insights reveal a common challenge: selling the idea of returning to basics with a Value Stream Identification Workshop to leadership. Yet, this workshop is not just about correcting past oversights; it's about laying a robust foundation for the future. A SAFe portfolio, enriched with development and operational value streams requires a deep understanding of these components to effectively navigate the complexities of delivering value across multiple ARTs and value streams.

    The benefits of undertaking this workshop, even post-ART launch, cannot be overstated. It's an opportunity to reduce dependencies, streamline processes, and address bottlenecks that hinder the flow of value. More importantly, it fosters a culture of continuous improvement, where the organization remains agile in name and action—constantly realigning and optimizing its approach to value delivery.

    The Value Stream and ART Identification Workshop is not a one-time event but a vital part of an ongoing journey. It embodies the principle of organizing around value, ensuring that as your organization grows and evolves, your approach to Agile and SAFe does, too. Let my experience and insights inspire you to embrace this workshop as a crucial step in your continuous improvement efforts, ensuring that your organization remains aligned, efficient, and, above all, focused on delivering unmatched value.

    At Applied Frameworks, we focus on all aspects of SAFe adoption.  Learning and improvement are never complete, and our team is dedicated to advancing the framework.  Our SAFe Practice includes SAFe Fellows, SPCTs, and SPCs with theoretical and practical experience. Join us for one of our upcoming SAFe courses, or schedule a meeting with one of our leaders to review your existing implementation.


    Phil Gardiner

    As leader of Applied Frameworks’ SAFe Practice, Phil is responsible for large-scale transformations and guiding change agents as they learn to apply the Scaled Agile Framework. Phil has served as a leader, coach, and consultant at some of the world’s largest companies as well as government organizations such as the US Department of Defense. Prior to becoming a consultant in 2015, Phil spent sixteen years at AT&T as a leader and internal change agent, working to bring products and services to market faster through the use of technology and Lean-Agile methodologies. Phil is a SAFe Fellow, and a Certified SAFe Program Consultant Trainer® (SPCT), one of less than 100 people who hold this certification globally. He is an active collaborator within the Scaled Agile Community and is cited as a subject matter expert in a variety of topics including Lean Portfolio Management and Agile Product Management. In addition to his SAFe expertise, Phil is an agile coach with experience in a variety of other Lean-Agile methodologies and approaches.

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