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Join us for the next episode in the SPC Journey Series: I’m an SPC and a Mentor. SPCs work in a variety of areas, both internal and external. For example, they may serve as a consultant or a coach working as an external partner or be part of the internal enterprise, leading change from within.
Recorded live on June 15, 2023, watch as Applied Frameworks’ SAFe® Fellow, Phil Gardiner, will host the latest installment in the SPC Journey series. We are honored to have two of Scaled Agile, Inc’s SAFe® Fellows as our guests, Joe Vallone, SAFe® Experts Program Lead, and Dr. Steve Mayner, VP of Framework and Methodologist. Together, we will explore the importance of mentoring in one’s SPC Journey.
Joe Vallone is an experienced Agile Coach, SPCT, and SAFe® Fellow at Scaled Agile Inc., and has been involved in the Lean and Agile communities since 2002. Listed in TechBeacon’s top Agile scaling experts, Joe has implemented large-scale Agile transformations using various frameworks at several Fortune 100 companies. Joe began his SAFe® journey while working with Dean Leffingwell at Nokia in 2007. He is an effective leader and speaker with over 25 years of software development and leadership experience with certifications as a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Certified SAFe® Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT), and SAFe® Fellow. Joe has executive leadership experience in startup companies as a CTO, CIO, and VP of Engineering. Joe Vallone received his Engineering undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida, in Tampa Florida, and his MBA from the prestigious Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Joe is an adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, teaching graduate students in the technology management program.
Dr. Steve Mayner has a passion for coaching businesses on digital age leadership, organizational change, continuous learning culture, artificial intelligence, Agile contracts, and SAFe® practice in government. His 35-year career in business includes roles as Vice President in multiple Fortune 500 companies and Chief Technology Officer for a Health IT startup. Now in his 7th year at Scaled Agile Inc., Steve serves as Framework VP and senior leadership team member, contributing to strategy formulation, Lean Portfolio Management, and business operations.
The SPC Journey is a series of webinars and panel discussions, hosted by SAFe® Fellow Phil Gardiner, designed to help SPC’s and those they support on their journey to learn, grow, and succeed in implementing SAFe.
SPC Journey: I’m an SPC, Now What?!? with Harry Koehnerman, SAFe® Fellow
SPC Journey: From Theory to Practice with Travis Moorer, SPCT Candidate
SPC Journey: I’m an SPC and a Coach with Rachele Maurer, SPC
SPC Journey: I’m an SPC and a Consultant with Michael Robertson, SPC, and Charles Rapier
SPC Journey: I’m an SPC and a Trainer with Rebecca Davis, SAFe® Fellow
SPC Journey: I’m an SPC and I Lead a Transformation with Angela Smith, SPC @ Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield
SPC Journey: I’m an SPC and I Head a LACE with Alena Keck, Head of Lead Agile Center of Excellence at Vodafone
SPC Journey: I’m an SPC and We Build a Community with JC Titus, SPC, and Takeisha Murphy, SPC from Ingenico North America
SPC Journey: I’m an SPC and an RTE with Mike Robertson of Applied Frameworks, Matt Davis of Salesforce, and Sally McDonald of Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield
*Transcript was made using AI. Please excuse any spelling and grammar issues
Phil Gardiner 02:35
Welcome everybody. We will probably still join a little bit of going but I’ll do quick introductions here. You know, this is our, I believe our 10th episode of this series but I do not get the 10th episode. So this series is started last July with Harry Koehnemann. I’m an SPC now what as I’ve turned into more of a talk show, where I get to I get the I get the privilege of interviewing different SPCs out there and they’re all at different points on their journey. Sometimes they’re just getting started. Other times like the two esteemed gentleman we have with us today. They’ve been doing this for for some time. And so we have to say fellows both who work at Scaled Agile we’ve got Joe Vallone. He’s the safe experts program lead that’s from SPC to SPC T is safe fellow, he leads that program. Also we’ve got Dr. Steve Mayner. He’s the VP of the framework and a methodologist is one of the small number of men and women who actually write the framework. Joe, Steve, anything you’d add to your intros.
Joe Vallone 03:45
I’m happy to be here to support our partner. And I would say this is a talk show I guess I’m here for Comic Relief.
Dr Steve Mayner 03:55
As long as we don’t have to do any song or dance I’m good with it.
Phil Gardiner 04:00
I’ve never seen I’ve never you’re the it’s funny you say that because I think about the people at Scaled Agile most most likely to be seen dancing and singing. You two are the bottom of that list.
Joe Vallone 04:11
Nobody wants to see that.
Phil Gardiner 04:14
Although maybe there’s a cool PI planning video in the future somewhere. But anyway, so welcome. I’m Phil Gardner. I work here at Applied Frameworks and today we’re really what we’re talking about today is this idea of mentor. Right and I’ll tell you that I’ve been honored on my journey. I’ve benefited from the mentoring of both these individuals. Dr. Mayner was my was my mentor and guide in the STCT program when I was going from being a starry eyed edge and aspiring SPCT and Joe, you know, I I’m learning from him now as as I work to continue my own learning journey and mentoring others. So really happy to have had the two of them here. Our topics today are really kind of talking about mentoring both from a formal perspective and an informal perspective. We’ll talk about being a mentee and being a mentor. You know, that was something that was eye opening to me is the differences in the use of that word. I consider myself to be a natural mentor, mainly because I leveraged some of my own experiences when I when I help cultivate capabilities and others, however, there’s there’s actual something called formal mentor. And there’s responsibilities from both the mentee and the mentor perspective. Joe and Steve can talk about the safe experts program the SPC program, and we’ll talk a bit about how do you get the best out of a mentor and even how to find one. So let’s let’s start off with this this idea of formal informal. You know, when we talk about formal mentoring, Dr. maner Joe and one of you want to talk about your experiences as a formal mentor. Want to kick us off Steve?
Dr Steve Mayner 06:01
Sure. So, as Phil mentioned, there’s the the formal mentor role that we have at Scaled Agile for SPCs who are on the journey to becoming an SPC T was probably the closest and most relevant in this in this particular call and to these these particular set of attendees. And we can we can certainly go into as much detail as you want to go to into in terms of what that particular process looks like. But just zooming the camera back a little bit over the course of now. 35 plus years in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to be all of the above right both formal and informal, both mentor and mentee. And, you know, my observation in retrospect from all of that is you it’s great to have all of the above. There’s no one right or wrong or best approach right there. I’ve been through multiple formal mentorship programs. Working for some very large companies in in my past that had these well established processes you had to get nominated into and then had a you know, very outlined kind of kind of thing and and even provided helps for both the mentor and the mentee that got assigned in terms of what that should look like or you know how to how to make that successful. Those are fantastic. Do you have any chance to do anything like that? Take advantage of it, you will learn a tremendous amount, right? But then I also have had, I’ve had some great informal mentors. We never sat down and you know had a written agreement of any kind. But I now look back in in my life both personally and professionally. And I can absolutely and those have ever done a life map like we do in the leading by example. You know, it’s a lot of those individuals end up coming out as you look back on your life and the influence that they had and how they contributed to you as an individual. And hopefully we all take the opportunity to give that back and play that similar kind of role for other people when
Phil Gardiner 08:19
they invite us to do so.
Dr Steve Mayner 08:20
So that’s kind of my story.
Phil Gardiner 08:23
What I’m hearing as you’ve been a mentor and a mentee and whether or not it’s formal or informal, it’s all good stuff. Good,
Dr Steve Mayner 08:29
thick, like squeeze the juice out of the orange. I did that just for you, Joe, since you’re in Florida, understand oranges, so well.
Joe Vallone 08:40
I’m in France at the moment but I don’t know what the French equivalent is apparently they have orange juice here too. It’s they just usually put champagne with it as well. So not having orange juice right now. But from from my own journey I kind of echo Steve’s sentiments as well. I think one of the things that we we did in in, you know, leading by example courses, I found out or I think both of us found out Steve and myself found out Steve was teaching the course. And so if you want to call that a mentee mentor relationship I think that’s that’s accurate. But we found out a lot of our lives paralleled in amazing ways. I’ve also had been lucky enough to be experienced by that stuff. I when I started this this agile journal journey I think, probably back in 2002 timeframe. And then, you know, learn started learning about XP and the more technical aspects. When I got to Nokia, I had the opportunity to really learn from informally mentors, people like Dean Leffingwell people like Ken shaver, people like Kenny Ruben light cone that kind of and I was I was fortunate to really be in those positions at that time to gather their influence and their knowledge and more lucky now I think that at Scaled Agile you know I can still reach out to Dean and receive feedback and ideas and even peers and other people in the company like Steve that are able to kind of, you know, show direction but on the other hand, I’m also a formal mentor. In the SPCT program. I am a guy and I do have people in my care. And there are requirements and there are things that that we need to go through. But I still consider myself a mentee to this day and I’m you know, now I suppose there’s there’s additional people that I that I talked to people like Don Reinertsen on a fairly regular basis and communicate with lovely person, but I’ve really gotten to know some of these people and I just their wisdom, you know, I wouldn’t try that for the world. So I echo Steve sediments that it doesn’t matter whether it’s informal or formal. I think for me, it’s the learning. That’s all about the learning. I learned when I mentor people when I learn when I receive mentorship. So that’s that’s my take on it as well.
Phil Gardiner 11:22
I’ll share a personal note here is that you know, sometimes what you what you learn isn’t what you think you need to learn, actually what you need to learn, right? And both of these gentlemen saw me through the SPCT program, and for me, it wasn’t knowledge of safe, right and how to how to apply it. It was it was more about you know, be more flexible and more situations, giving more grace. You know, if, if you’ve you know, this this particular series, right, I believe that that wonderful SPCs are a boon to all the enterprises and agencies out there, and not everybody starts at the same place the same experiences and part of this whole series is to help you as an SPC, understand that you bought your SPC awesome, great accomplishment. Now the learning really starts. Right. And so we did have a question. And by the way, if you don’t mind putting the questions in through q&a, that allow us to track them easier. But we had one quick request here. And if you don’t mind a quick overview of it was a quick summary on the SPC T program. If there’s anything you could quickly say about that. I know there’s somebody else in here is asked about you know the path of SPC team.
Joe Vallone 12:36
I can I can kind of kick that off. So the SPCT program, the history of it, I’m not going to go into gory detail about it, but it started true. gemo was a co founder of safe started the program. Probably back in the 20s or 18 timeframe, I would say that was SPCT class. There was SPCT. Class Number one I was in number two, after I joined Scaled Agile shortly after that within a year or so I was giving him ideas and he asked him to come forward to help out and become a guide and do all of those things. And eventually, you know, Drew moved on to bigger and better things and I’ve been in the program, helping to run it ever since. And essentially, it is an internationally recognized program from Gartner. We’ve received good feedback. And the goal really hasn’t changed too much from the beginning and that really is to help help companies help them deliver systems and lend our expertise. To them the overview of the program to get into the program. There’s criteria to get through the program. It’s probably about an average of I think in when we’ve tracked the data somewhere between 16 and 18 months it is not an easy program to get through. If you’re looking for a check the box program, this is not it. There’s plenty of stuff for you to do and plenty of stuff for you to learn to get into the program to start you know, obviously, there’s a I don’t know, Steve, what do we have now? About 20,000 SPCs out there or something like that around? Numbers?
Dr Steve Mayner 14:32
It’s approaching 20,000? Yeah.
Joe Vallone 14:35
Yeah. So so we have plenty of emails that ask how do I get into the program on the way to get into the program or start the journey is to look at the our webpage where we have experts programs listed at scaled agile.com So scaled agile.com has expert programs which has a detailed overview in general to start the journey, though you need to do with a partner or an enterprise that has enterprise licensing with us those those are the starting points so the partnership has to be a Gold Partner This is an exclusive benefit for those partners. Thanks, Phil for posting that. And then there’s there’s several requirements entry requirements to get to the point where you’re, you’re, you feel qualified enough and we feel that you’re qualified enough to start interviewing and kind of continuing your journey. So I’m happy to answer more detailed questions. But that’s a that’s a brief overview of the of the program and fills steam, your thoughts, anything that I that I that I missed or didn’t articulate well enough there.
Dr Steve Mayner 15:58
I think the thing I would add add to that, and I haven’t visited the page lately, so I don’t know how much of this is is really detailed there. There’s a there’s a whole bunch of information about how you can get nominated what the process looks like. And then ultimately, if you go through it successfully, you’re now in SBCT. But that’s that is the smallest part of the picture even though it is incredibly difficult as Dean tells many audiences, I was actually getting my doctorate at the same time I was doing my SBCT the program and the tea was harder.
Phil Gardiner 16:34
You told me
Dr Steve Mayner 16:35
that. Yeah. But it’s it really is the beginning of the journey, and it is a symbiotic relationship. So you’re going to contribute tremendously to the global community, through the skills and the learning and the experience that you have to to apply out in the world whether you’re inside of an enterprise or with a company that you know, that sells services around safe, but it’s even more than that. We are then also have an obligation to you as an SPCT to have an ongoing we’re going to continue to invest in youth. Phil has been to both our our our SPCT focused we call masterclass and we’re at the first of the year, and now as one of our newest fellows just experienced the fellows retreat. And it’s it is a it truly is a very symbiotic relationship and both we’re investing in you and you’re contributing to the larger safe community as well. And that’s the real value. I think, yes, it unlocks your ability to do certain things to teach classes that other people can’t teach or whatnot. But that to me, that’s the that’s the smallest piece of the picture of the puzzle. Phil can can talk about, you know, the coaching station experiences and the things like that, that really enrich his ability, right to learn more about what’s going on in the world and take those experiences and share those with other people. That really should be the motivation if, if you’re going into this from the mindset of well, that’s just the next you know, the next badge I need to I need to capture and hang off the back of my LinkedIn profile. One you’re going to have a real rough time succeeding, and two, you’re really kind of missing the point. So that’s what I would offer.
Joe Vallone 18:41
Thanks, Steve. I mean, that’s a really good good summary as well. And yeah, we’re, we’re not really looking for cert collectors. That’s a different that’s that’s a different area for us. And I know and I may be pronouncing this wrong, but Anita had asked a question about CO trainer if CO trainer is a path to move up as an SPC qi i would say us it certainly can be it doesn’t hurt. The CO trainer program is designed as part of experts program to get you experience as an SPC in teaching, implementing safe so you can kind of see what you’re in for and there are requirements to become a co trainer that are not exactly the same as the entrance requirement for SPC to kind of look at it with a different lens but they are similar. So it does give you some programmatic experience but more importantly, it starts your journey. On on the learning and teaching part of that. The limitations on that is again, it’s only offered to our gold partners and SCS. And secondly, it’s only for a year it is not a special certification. It’s not a separate program that is meant to be a career choice. It’s simply used to help you gain experience. It’s not a mentor mentee official program where people in the SBCT program who move from prospect to nominee meaning you’re being accepted into the program Once you’re accepted into the program, you are assigned a mentor from Scaled Agile. So based on that, you know that’s that’s a little bit different. But if you’re looking for experience that coach trainer program will help you do that.
Phil Gardiner 20:37
I’ll throw a couple of things on that. So for you know, if you’re an SPC that’s got lots of experience in the classroom. Right, then certainly, you know, you go work for a gold SPCT partner that can offer the implementing safe class and you know, submit as a co trainer. Now keep in mind though, that in order to be a co trainer, you still have to have field experience. There’s a there’s a big difference. This is my personal opinion not scaled agile team speaking here. My personal opinion is that there’s something you learn from being out there doing now our second webinar in this series was with an SPCT candidate Travis Moorer. And Travis was sharing that said there’s some things that are taught and some things that are caught. He had such an awakening when I brought him to the PR planning event with this awesome US Army futures and Air Force program. And he was just like, This is not what I expected at all, because there’s the the interactions and the people and that’s the part that’s hard to see. You know, I’m an I share joke and I share my my journey with you and Adam, that’s coming up is that.
Joe Vallone 21:43
Yeah, that’s perfectly fine. So
Phil Gardiner 21:47
I’m actually being mentored again, by Joe and Adam Mattis to become a guy so there’s a there’s a couple people out in the skilled agile hires and brings in to help serve as that mentor and I’m, I’m really excited about being able to do that. But when I when I think about that, is this whole idea of being an SPCT? What I found from talking and learning from Joe and Adam more deeply recently, is that it’s not about the activities like said it’s not about checking the boxes, it’s about how you perceive those activities, how you lead. How you know, the trusted adviser asked that put it in Slack. Now they talked about being an SPC T is more than just being a trainer. You’re a transformation architect, you need to understand, hey, here’s the problems. They’re trying to solve the outcomes they’re looking for. Here’s how you can wield the framework to get there to the sustainable success. Also, being that trusted adviser, and sometimes being a trusted adviser is saying things like hey, I don’t know. I mean, I’ll tell you that. I’ve pulled in Steve, in my past when I was when I was starting in the government sector. When I was working with the big cyber physical missile warning system I married probably remembers this. I brought in a phone a friend Harry Koehnemann because while I can give you the basics and tell you what the framework says, I’m have the deep experience in all the aspects of safe and that’s something I just want to pass on to all of you is that you don’t have to master all of it. There’s so many places you can go as an SPC right for me, I choose to focus on on mentoring, internal change agents and leaders and mentoring people and helping people to have success with with Lean portfolio management. Whereas you know, Dr. Mayner, he’s, I put it in chat earlier this leading in the digital age. It’s this amazing, transformational leadership series. Right. And so everybody’s got different areas of expertise. I want to close out this this piece, this topic with one one last thing and that’s that informal mentoring is outside of the SPC programs, all I’ve had, and I’ll tell you that it doesn’t have to be long term. Big stuff. Right when I think of my mentors, you know, people like em Campbell pretty Eric Wilkie, Mark Richards, these are individuals that gave me i minutes of their time on a phone call here or there. That got me unstuck, right. They gave me They shared their top five things. And so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask people when you feel a synergy with what they’re saying and where they’re coming from, to reach out and as as all they can say is no and so it doesn’t have to be a paid mentoring program to be valuable to you. And then once you’ve learned you can give back as well. Let’s talk a little bit about serving as a mentee. When when we think about being a mentee. You know, one of the things that was an eye opener for not really an eye opener, but it was kind of like I was surprised at how much you know Steve, Steven Joe told me hey, look as the mentee it’s on you. And I was like, Well, yeah, I’m here I want to learn from you. And apparently that’s not the way that everybody approaches it. So tell us a little bit about about you know, kind of tips for being a mentee and expectations from a mentor.
Dr Steve Mayner 25:10
Well, I can I can give it a fair shot. So yeah, as Phil said, and you know, keep in mind I had the benefit of being a mentee in some some both formal and informal settings for a number of years before I ever got to that initial conversation that Phil and I had. And I learned through those processes that you know, as as as a mentor, one of the first things I’m wanting to see is how much is the mentee, really wanting to invest and drive the process, right or are they taking a well I’m I’m here, right? So, you know, just pour into my head, right and have the mentor drive the process and I’m of the school that as you know as a mentee, but you need to be clear on what’s the purpose of of this, especially the that gets increasingly more important, the more formal it gets. Right? But even if it’s the five minute conversation if you’re reaching out to someone, and and you know are going to ask for the gift of their time, and they’re their insights, you know, take a few minutes to get really clear on what it is that you’re hoping to accomplish. What’s your purpose, what’s your goal? What’s the outcome you’re hoping for and get that clear and express that? One that tells it tells the person that you’re reaching out to that, you know, you’re not you’re not for anybody that has read the One Minute Manager, right? You’re not passing the monkey on on your on your mentors. You’re coming with it. With a with a clear set of goals, a clear way in which the mentor can assist and as a mentor, that will be greatly appreciated. It recognizes the value of their of their time and it also helps them do a better job of trying to help you with the with the intended purpose the more formal it gets, then it becomes even even more critical and I look for the mentee to set okay, this is this is what I hope to get from this. This is the you know the frequency that you know that I would like to have an inter interaction that seems to meet my needs, but also want to align it to your availability and really kind of kind of drive the process certainly upfront but even even more importantly as it goes along. I told Phil as I’ve told all my mandate is I’m not going to chase you down. If you go dark then I’m I’m going to assume that you you know you change directions are not getting value out of it and that’s fine. But if I don’t hear from you don’t don’t expect me to run you down. Because, you know this is you know that’s that’s your responsibility. I just think it’s that’s not everybody’s gonna feel that way. That’s my that’s my approach. And it told me it tells me a lot from how mentees respond to that and how they take that sort of that challenge and run with it and the more they are clear that they are responding to that and do feel ownership of the process and are putting their sweat equity into it. The more I’m going to be motivated to add add as much value as I possibly can for them, because that’s kind of the contract.
Joe Vallone 28:59
What what do you want to add to that? Well, I’m not sure I can add much more about Steve’s answer was was brilliant I from a but I would I would comment that people in the SPCT program as a guide. And Steve was also what guide in the program we do coach them, do not chase these people down. Everyone’s busy and if you’re going to be a mentee, you also need to be very respectful of the mentors time. setting up meetings with them is for your benefit. It’s for you to learn. It’s for you to ask questions and if you don’t want that, that’s okay. But don’t waste time doing that. So we coach them, hey, this is my availability. This is my Calendly link or whatever you have to gather that please set up some time but we’re not going to do it for you. We’re not going to send invites out we’re not going to chase you down. We have other people in the program that do want that feedback and their time is valuable. Our time is valuable. And I love what Steve said about you know, being very clear about the purpose from a mentees perspective. You know, if I if I reach out to one of my mentors and there’s many if I reach out to a dean Leffingwell if I reach out to Don Reinertsen I’m going to be very clear about what the purpose is because these are busy people and their their mentorship is very dear to me. And I don’t want to waste their time. And but they’re very gracious. I mean, you know, Dean’s never said Don’t call me, at least not to my knowledge. He’s never said don’t reach out to me. None of them have. So I think I think what Steve said is spot on about making sure that you’re clear about the purpose, especially if it’s an informal thing, right? You’re not there to just kind of have a coffee chat and then ask them how their day was. It’s not it’s not really that the SPCT program is a little more formal as far as that goes. And so I think the purpose is pretty clear up front we’re pretty clear about the type of information we’re looking to pass on to you. But we’re not there to provide you the the experiences that you need. I mean, that’s the agreement with gold partners and people like that. But we’re there to help answer your questions help make sure that you’re heading down the right path and that you’re going to receive quality out of the program that we expect.
Dr Steve Mayner 31:39
And Phil if I can just jump in on one thing I want to make very clear. This isn’t a power distance thing. This isn’t our time is more valuable than somebody else’s time thing. Let me just kind of set that. That clarity. This is a matter of I think about it as a parent who raised five children, right who you know, they get interested in activities or I you did the same thing with them. Part of this is because I care about them enough that it’s an important life skill for them to grow into taking ownership of something and, you know, getting in sports and taking care of their own equipment. And, you know, understanding that the game schedule and you know, and those things as opposed to, you know, me hand holding them through everything. It wasn’t because I’m more important than them. I actually care about them enough to understand that they’re going to learn and they’re going to grow by having that opportunity. And then by doing it for them, I’m actually robbing them of of that growth experience. I think very similar. That the the mindset I think Joe would completely agree that we’re taking into this is, is we because we personally have experienced it. We want to make sure that you have those opportunities for similar experiences. And then that’s the motivation behind Hey, we really want them the mentee to drive the process.
Phil Gardiner 33:10
And it’s you know, I can tell you from my own personal experience, there was a period of a few months where I was I was debating do I really want this, and I know Steve was my guide at the time, and it’s like I went silent for two or three months. And, you know, now where I’m at in my journey now I’d be like, Okay, I’d be I’d be wondering what’s going on with that guy, but at the same time I’m gonna go above him, because this is this balls in their court. Yeah, so we do Robert we do have a will be recording this and posting it on the Youtube playlist, where we’ve got all the all the all these recorded. I want to just move away from the experts program for just a moment and talk a little bit about just kind of mentor and mentee in general. Right. So you know, I talked about we do consulting services here at apply frameworks. And one of the things that I consider to be a differentiator is that we can we can do, we can do an implementation. That includes mentoring, where we mentor the RTE, we mentor the internal change agents, we mentor the person leading the transformation and when I talk about mentoring in that light, it’s really about helping cultivate enhance their capabilities. They’re leading the transformation we aren’t but but they’ve got the benefit of our experience in our in our backdrop, so that when, you know when we leave, they can make they’ve got this right and, you know, those of you that have seen my talks before you know that that’s that’s ingrained in my DNA. I believe that to have sustainable success with safe you’ve got to have internal change agents that can that can lead this because we’re we’re temporary as outside but that mentor and can really help and the things that Joe and Steve have shared, I would kind of go the same way right. So if if you know someone hires us to come in and help them launch an art, for example, or implement OPM, and they want us to mentor them along the way, it’s the same thing if the person’s not seeking out those one on one conversations and that time to take a deeper understanding. It’s hard for us to force that. Right. And so a lot of the great advice they gave there. When you think about serving as a mentor, right, I think we’ve kind of talked about both sides of the coin as we’ve shared our stories, anything that the doctor made, or Joe that you’d want to share regarding serving as a mentor outside the program, you know, maybe as a you know, in the Air Force in previous previous jobs, previous roles, you know, like that.
Joe Vallone 35:41
Yeah, I think if we’re talking outside the SPCT program, I think SAFe’s model hasn’t really changed all that much in terms of what we do in the respect that we show the companies. You know, we use our partners, we don’t have this big advisory department organization that goes out where we’d never want to be in that service and compete. But our job is really, I think you summed it up fill our job at Scaled Agile, is not to is not to give them the fish, it’s to teach them how to fish so that when we leave, you know, it doesn’t collapse, and that includes the mentorship of the people on the program. You know, and the companies that we go to visiting one here here this week, and a lot of it is about sharing our own experiences and things that we’ve done. It’s it’s really not about you know, we don’t even at times when we do consulting it’s not long term engagements. Nobody’s ever going to know that company. Nobody has scaled agile is never going to know that company, as well as the people in that company. And it makes no sense for us to think about, well, we’re going to fix your company. We’re going to do this No, that’s your job. Your job as the person there but we can do though is we can give you the education and we can give you the guidance, so that you can be better prepared to do that. So I don’t know if, if that’s what you mean but in other areas of my life. You know, I have grown a lot since hopefully I continue to grow but early in my career, you know, I can tell you my own kind of kind of story early in my career as a manager. I was I was personally and I shared this story yesterday with the company I was at. I was personally hurt if someone left my team, right if I had you know several teams and somebody left I kind of took it as as personal like, Hey, you’re going somewhere and why are you why don’t why don’t you want to stay Don’t you love me anymore? I mean you know, I’m not gonna get into the psychological aspect of that, but I was personally hurt by that. And when I went through my own leadership journey, and through my grad school, and we kind of talked about this things I came to realize that I’m looking at this through the wrong way. The lens, it’s not really about me at all. And I gained some maturity to the point Steve would argue, not quite their maturity level, but that’s fine. My wife would have the same opinion, but I gained the maturity. I think that what had happened after I’d gone through some experiences and someone said, hey, you know, I’m leaving or whatever the case was. I was genuinely happy, genuinely happy because I thought all right. You know, this person is going on to do something else. They’re going to learn some new skills and they’re doing it to better themselves. That should be celebrated. And and yeah, I was sad to see them leave, but I wasn’t angry about it. I was genuinely I felt genuine joy and pride. You know, like, I hope I provided you you know, I’m thinking to myself, I hope I provided you some value while you were here, but man, they’ll often and do great things and learn new things. I mean, we we’ve all transitioned to different jobs and different different positions and we do that not to hurt anybody. We do that because we’re trying to learn and we’re trying to grow so I’ll kick it over to Steve.
Dr Steve Mayner 39:39
Yeah, I mean, there’s, there’s so many we could we could extend this for another two hours. Phil, I could just tell the stories of the amazing people that you know, that that have influenced me and have have prepared me. I mean, the fact that I’m even in the industry that I’m in is as the result of a very young you know, just graduated from from their undergraduate degree college kid who decided that they didn’t want to pursue their degree but instead break into the business world and my very first boss. This is way way back in the in the early days of like the the IBM 80. And just come out, so that’s how old I am. Right? Who saw that I had an aptitude for computers and without a lot of formality without a lot of fanfare to said, you know, I’ll tell you what, if, as long as you complete the assignments for the day, at that point, once you once you’ve done those things the rest of the day, we’ll give you the computer, we’ll give you the software. I’ll answer any questions that you have and you can just learn and explore and figure this stuff out. And that set me on the path to be in technology for the next 35 plus years. So you know, from that from the person from the perspective of someone who has the ability to really give into the lives of other people never underestimate what what the result of that could be. And then from from the mentee side, what I would say is, you know, society, we don’t really talk about this importance of having mentors in your life. I don’t know that our culture really reinforces that the way it may have in the past. What I would say is is, is don’t let those opportunities pass you by. Right really look around your world with some intentionality and and realize the benefit and the value that you can gain from really being open. To other people to gift to you through their experiences if you if you just open that door now that they’re not going to come chase you down. Right. But so the this the courage, the the initiative has has to come from you but you’re you’re only going to see those opportunities if you if you open the eyes and look at the world around you and the people that you have you have the opportunity to reach out to some will be easy. That right there is just an are probably more than happy because they know you’ve got an existing relationship. Some may not know you from any stranger but you see some really value and it might be a little intimidating might take a little courage to say you don’t know me. And if you choose not to even respond, I completely understand that here’s who I am. Here’s, here’s what I would love to have the opportunity to do if you’d be willing to do so. Some of us aren’t, aren’t built necessarily to intuitively and naturally feel comfortable doing that, but wow, what opportunities it can. It can present I the one example I will give you from my own personal life is I’ve been a good friend of Jean Kemp’s author of the Phoenix Project since the days he was actually writing the book. Not because I’m anyone special or or whatever. I just happened to be at an event that he was he was doing around his book, and they had a mixer afterwards and I just had the courage say You know what, I don’t want my I’m nobody but I’m gonna go and I’m going to introduce myself. And I’m going to take a chance that just maybe you know, there was some good that comes out of that. And unfortunately, if anybody knows Jean, I mean, he he’s just the most amount one of most human beings that have ever met. And we forged a friendship right there. And it’s it’s continued to this very day. And my life has been so much better because of that and it would be missing all of that. If I hadn’t had said you know what this is going to not leaving my comfort zone but I’m gonna walk across that room and I’m going to introduce myself and maybe I get blown off that’s the risk you take but maybe something great will come out of it.
Phil Gardiner 44:17
And then I’ve got I said we could probably sevens I could tell you that very similar stories right that courage. You have a question in chat about or in the q&a, identify managers how to approach them. I think you’ve answered that second part, right? If you have, especially if you haven’t interacted with them. I do like one thing you said Steve, about including in there and your text, it’s okay. You don’t respond. You know, I don’t know where I hit this part of my journey. But I’ll have people reach out on LinkedIn sometimes. And I’m like, gosh, what goes through my mind is that I meet this person and I just forgot what Wow, I’ve been I’ve been such a jerk because I don’t remember who they are. Right it’s so don’t be afraid, you know, people get busy. And you know, I I’ve, I’ve been through something a lot. You know, I took kind of two years where I had some stuff going on my personal life where I wasn’t out there in the community as much as I’d like to do. And so, you know, that’s changed the way I look at things. If somebody doesn’t reply, sometimes I think a man place and put on there but maybe have a sick kid or something right? But give them that grace and be okay with with them saying no, because sometimes it can be a whole lot of different pressures may or may prevent them but in making your case, hey, here’s who I am. Here’s my background. I would actually add on there, you know, if there’s something you can think of, that they might get out of the relationship, and it doesn’t hurt to put that as well. Right. So, you know, early on in my safe journey. I was able to go to this amazing event Scotland called the same leadership retreat. And I was one of two people from the United States that didn’t work for a consulting company. And so what was interesting is that what I could offer those people that gave me the gift of their time was the perspective of this starry eyed internal change agents. Some of the challenges that I faced as being internal. And it was interesting is that a few years later, one of one of those individuals, you know, he asked me said, Hey, could you introduce me to this company so that I can go in I’m writing a book I want to I want to do some some gamba. And I’m like, Absolutely. How can I help? Right. So, Joe, anything you’d add to that and kind of the how to identify how to approach especially if you haven’t interacted with them?
Joe Vallone 46:42
Yeah, I think it’s I think it’s tricky. But what Steve said about having courage is absolutely okay. So I’ve had many interactions with mentors just because, you know, I want to do that. But I would say, Well, what is it you want to if you’re trying to identify a mentor? What is it you’re trying to learn? You know, what, what is it that you want? Steve mentioned about purpose? What’s the purpose to initiate this conversation? And I was thinking when when you mentioned the Lincoln you mean, I’m supposed to know all 5000 of my, my circle? You know, my connection? I don’t think that’s, that’s really possible. I’m pretty sure Dunbar would have something to say about that. But I, a lot of it is is, you know, what is it that you want to learn? It’s not just going so well. I want to mentor in what fatherhood you want to mentor in technology, software hardware. What what is it that you’re trying to learn? What do you want to know? What do you want to do better at what do you want to learn? And I think, you know, I was just speaking with a friend today, actually, and he was explaining that there was this you know, rock star author, that, that in finance that, you know, they were really keen to know and you know, who am I and reached out to them on LinkedIn and said, hey, you know, I really admire your work. I’ve read all your books, and I just want to say, Hey, I’m working on a paper and I’d be I’d be interested if you might have some time to review and censor website information. And, again, having the courage to do that and knowing that this person is super busy, they wrote back and said, you know, what, I’m actually working on something similar, let’s collaborate. And then there’s a person who, you know, got to meet their, their mentor, probably slash idol and really got something powerful out of the relationship. And I think we’ve all had experiences like that, but you don’t understand what it is you want to learn and then reach out to those people you respect and admire, have the courage to do that. But be okay. If if like Steve said, if they say, You know what, I’m really kind of busy right now and I’m understand, maybe it’ll work out later. Maybe it won’t, but that’s okay.
Phil Gardiner 49:15
It’s interesting. Hearing you talk show. Words learn No, right though, and I think that’s something that I want to make sure. I’m looking at our bullet list and we’ve covered almost everything here. But tips to getting the most out of your mentor. I can’t speak for all the mentors out there. But I can tell you that you know, there’s there’s there’s three individuals that I’ve I’ve mentored for for multiple years, and I think of them I look forward to the day when they when they all you know just I always happy to hear their continued success. You know, Brian Vaughn he’s an SBCT. Now, Travis Moore and Michael Robertson, they’re in the program, and there’s just this pride you have but what’s interesting in all three of those cases, when I think about my interactions, when they’re like, hey, I want to talk to Phil as a mentor, not Phil as SBCT or Phil is, you know, sometimes when I’m in the brief time they work for me, yes, Phil is my boss, but just, it was my mentor. Right. And it’s always about, say they’re yearning to learn. Sometimes it’s clarification. Sometimes it’s exploration. Sometimes it’s it’s validation, right? It’s just it’s but it’s always about this hunger and this yearning to improve and to learn and to grow. And so I would just say that, you know, I’ve had other people that I’ve mentored here and there along the way, you know, one person said, hey, look, I want to I want to get some lpm field experience this guy Eric, right, and he’s one of those sponges that that learns, you know, 80% Of what 100 People have to offer, right? Kind of that jack of all trades kind of guy, and he’s like, I want to actually be part of an lpm implementation with you. And so he ended up joining applied frameworks for for about a year where he shared with me on an ltr implementation does he want to learn the craft of actually getting it to stick? And so, you know, being open about your goals and what you’re looking for, right? And the nice thing about that is if you tell the person the mentee, and you tell the mentor what you’re hoping to gain then they know if they’re the right mentor for you. I’ll tell you that, you know, somebody says to me, Hey, I want to I want to be an SPCT because I want to be in charge of 50 SPCs. Or I want to be I want you to mentor me because I want to lead the Agile transformation at Company X. Right? Well, if you’re a consultants, and you’re asking me to mentor you on how to lead a transformation, I’m probably going to pass on that. Now if you’re the internal person, right. I think about people that I wouldn’t call it a formal mentoring relationship, but people like Linda cat who’s been on a previous episode of the show. I helped her where I could write Mary Stevenson, who’s on the call here with this right? I helped her where I could, because they were doing some amazing things. It was their transformation, their work, and I was honored to be part of it. And so having said that, research the person who you’re asking for it, because I believe there’s some individuals that are motivated by that growth of others. And at the same time, there may be people out there that are motivated by by sharing their you know, all the things they’ve done, right and where, you know, they just like to talk about it. And that can be okay, so you can learn from those individuals as well. I know we had a hand raised and I don’t know that we have the ability to ask all the questions. So live if you could put your question to q&a. We’ll be happy to get to we have time. I think we’re kind of done with our agenda. So if you’ve got any additional questions here for Dr. Maynard and Joe or myself, you know, I think you can see that most mentors have been mentees as well because if you value mentoring, you want to be on both sides of that coin. Okay, no problem. What other questions do you have or any any final comments, Joe and Steve, if we don’t get any questions? Or Laura, do you want to come off video and throw a couple sports in as well because I know you’ve been mentored and mentored and mentor and mentee.
Dr Steve Mayner 53:25
I was just gonna toss it and Phil, maybe as a final thing because it’s it’s something that I’m in the process of right now. Think about the opportunity to have a personal board of directors introduced that a few years ago and played around with it, but it’s something that I’m I’m rekindling my interest in. So think about what a board the Board of Directors does to help an organization particularly help the CEO. Right, so being the CEO of your own life of your own career, of your own journey, but even CEOs need need that the benefit of that external so what would your what would your personal board of directors look like? Who will who or what kinds of people and of course, if you know anything about boards of directors, they’re not homogenous, right? They have. They have different people who sit on the board for different reasons. They bring different things to the table. So kind of put that, you know, that dream team of your personal board of directors together and then think about if I actually went and pursued this How would how would that fit in my you know, in my in my world in my life and what I’d be would I be willing to invest that time but what can I get out of it? Just sharing that because it’s it’s something I’m, I’m personally in the process of doing right now. And I’m really kind of excited about it. Because it’s, you know, it’s it’s a part of a lifelong learner. journey that I’ve not fully explored and I’m really kind of keen to do
Phil Gardiner 55:06
that. Yeah, you’re all funny is that mentor thing? To be a good mentor? I I am. I appreciate you saying I’m funny. I know. I try sometimes. But I think that I think that that’s something that’s mandatory to be a good servant leader. Right? That that ability to be transparent, to create alignment to be vulnerable, you know, to be authentic, those all require you to be uncomfortable. And you know, for some people being being funny and or is is, is part of that that whole mechanism of being human and being authentic. So I would say yes, for Joe
Joe Vallone 55:52
I was fully once. For me, it’s it’s, it’s not a reaction or something. It’s just part of who I am because I think in my case, I’m a bit of an introvert, and I think being funny or trying to be funny, is is a way to deal with that discomfort.
Phil Gardiner 56:16
Laura, you’re an SPC. So Laura Caldie. Here she leads our our sales and marketing for fly framework so that he is also an SPC. And I know she’s been a mentor and mentee. I have an internal distrust of salespeople. And I think I now have three people that are pre sales people that I that I for has three, three people, three salespeople that I would consider to be trusted advisors to me in my life. Not a whole a huge number, but for any you’ve heard a lot of the conversations here any any parting thoughts for you or just kind of from listening to your combo?
Laura Caldie 56:49
But I guess what came up for me is the advantage and the responsibility that leaders at all levels of the organization have in order to make it possible and to make it safe for people in all parts of the organization to request and ask for mentorship. Because it’s one thing to be a person who is predisposed to ask for help. Right? That’s your personal responsibility. It’s a total other thing to feel like it’s a career enabler to do that in a public way inside an organization. And so I think it’s a system and if leaders at all levels make it clear that they welcome individuals taking responsibility by seeking out mentors, and by offering it up to other people. That’s when the power of mentorship can really explode inside an organization and it can be crushed incredibly quickly if people feel that asking for help is a career limiting gesture.
Phil Gardiner 57:52
I think I’ve lived there in my, my, the companies that worked for it. They, you know, thinking about westerns audel they were both simultaneously pathological and bureaucratic. I’ve still never seen a culture that it was so destructive, you know? And then there were pockets of amazing good generative stuff, but it really can be tough. And so, you know, I’ll just close with this is that you can find mentors everywhere. If you don’t have the psychological safety to look for a mentor inside your company. I’m going outside. Thank you so much, Joe. Thank you so much, Steve. You too are so amazing. And I appreciate the gift of your time for the community here. And you know, this will be up on YouTube. And I truly appreciate you and everybody for taking the time to attend.
Dr Steve Mayner 58:45
Appreciate the opportunity
Joe Vallone 58:46
Thanks, Phil. Our pleasure.
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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