The telecom company 3 had done an agile transformation, where they had good results in both productivity and employer satisfaction. They had experienced the positive in an agile way of working. Some years later many of the enthusiasts and coaches had left the company and there had been some changes in management. The agile transformation was not moving forwards any more.
3 decided to hire Dandy People for an agile reboot. During the agile reboot many actions were taken to reboot the agile work at 3. One of the actions identified was a Basic Agile Training for all people in the IT department at the Swedish main office in Stockholm, about 200 people, both employees and consultants.
Creating the training
Consultants from Dandy People cooperated to set the contents of the training and (of course) we ended up with too much. There was so much we wanted to teach everyone at 3! To decide what contents would go in the training we did a training session test run with all the agile coaches and some of the managers. That test run training was packed with way too many modules. We were all exhausted after those two days. Just like we had hoped for, we got a lot of valuable feedback from the participants and we removed some of the modules and changed some of the others. The rejected modules will be available in workshops to come on a need-to-know basis.
When creating the training we were inspired by training from the back of the room to make sure it’s fun, valuable and that the learnings would stick with the participants.
We decided that the group size for each training session should be 15-30 participants. That meant that during a 3-month period we had to do around 10 sessions, each session being 2 days long and needing 2 experienced trainers that were both familiar with all of the training material. We had only 2 experienced trainers from Dandy People available that could facilitate the training. Also, 3 wanted their employed agile coaches to learn how to facilitate the training. The solution was to take on a train-the-trainer approach. We asked the employed agile coaches who wanted to do it, and two of them signed up. One Dandy People consultant also signed up. None of them had any prior experience in being trainers. Although, being agile coaches, they all had experience in facilitating workshops and they all were eager to learn.
Doing the training
The first training sessions were held by the two experienced trainers from Dandy People while the trainees sat in the classroom, recording videos and taking notes. After the session, the experienced trainers also had walkthroughs of the material and instructions for the exercises with the trainees. The trainees also prepared by watching the videos of the training they had recorded and studying their notes.
Little by little the trainees started stepping onto the stage at their own pace when they felt comfortable. One of them started by talking to some of the slides and one of them started by facilitating an exercise. Every training session they took on something more than the last one. After 3 training sessions we only needed one of the experienced trainers since the trainees covered one person’s job. Each training session required two experienced trainers, but in most of them we were one experienced trainer and two trainees. Before each session we had a discussion, who wanted to facilitate what part of the training. The trainees did their pick and the experienced trainer took the rest. Towards the end of the 11 sessions we ended up doing, the trainees could facilitate the whole training themselves without any need for the experienced trainer. They were now fully qualified trainers themselves.
During the training sessions the trainers and the trainees focused on continuous improvement. Each time one of us had a suggestion or a feeling like “this module should not be directly after lunch” we wrote a sticky note about it and put it in a special area on the wall. After each session we went through the notes and made some changes. No 2 of our 11 training sessions were the same. The changes we made were everything from changing the order of the slides to removing a whole module from the training. We also changed the order of the modules multiple times as well as the entire way of doing one of the modules. We also collected feedback from the participants each training session.
Purpose and result of the training
The entire Stockholm IT department, 177 people, were invited to the training. During a 3-month period we had 11 training sessions and 165 of the invited 177 people have now taken the training, that is 93%.
The purpose of the training was:
A common understanding
Purpose: All in IT have a common understanding of basic agile principles and the tools used to enable them.
Result: The entire IT department now has a common language to talk about agile and a common understanding of basic agile principles.
See and improve the system
Purpose: Help the organization to see, understand and improve the overall system
Result: As a result of the training, there are more discussions on how 3 should work and why, and the discussions are more solution focused than before. There is more interest in improving the system and a feeling that improvement is possible.
Know why we do what we do
Purpose: All teams in IT getting a deeper understanding of why we use the practices and ceremonies we already use.
Result: Before the trainings teams at 3 had a lot of different practices and ceremonies going on in different teams. But the reason for and the naming of them were sometimes very different between teams, which made discussions difficult and misunderstandings common. Also, some of the teams were using practices and ceremonies without knowing the purpose of them. After the training the teams know why they are using the practices they are using. Some teams have removed old or added new ceremonies and practices.
Better team collaborations to improve speed
Purpose: Enable teams to safely experiment with practices that enables better inter-team collaboration (ex: using LeSS)
Result: In many areas of the IT department there are experiments with LeSS going on. Some teams are trying the Sprintplanning 1 and 2 and some team are trying the Overall retrospective.