Step by step guide for Problem Solving Workshop

The SAFe recommends 6 steps to manage problem solving workshop

# 1. Agree on the Problem(s) to Solve

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved”

• Define problem statement clearly. It shouldn’t suggest solution
• The team should focus on the problem which they can control or influence
• The highest weightage should be economic impact. This would inspire team to put in best possible effort to fix it
• Focus on few and pick the most important one or max two

Tip – You should be looking at ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘When’, ‘Impact’ but not ‘Who’. The ‘Who’ would result in blame game which is not the intention

For example:  if your problem is something related with important papers that should be stamp, you must think how to make a stamp on a digital word, in that way the solutions are getting faster and easier.

# 2. Perform Root Cause Analysis

By repeating why five times, the nature of the problem, as well as its solution, becomes clear. – Taiichi Ohno

• SAFe preloads main bones with 5 categories people, process, environment, program and tools but this can be anything.
• The team brainstorm the causes and write them against each bone. Brainstorm potential causes before putting things up on the fishbone
• Apply 5 Whys technique for each of the root cause

Example

Why? – The battery is dead. (First why)

Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (Second why)

Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (Third why)

Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (Fourth why)

Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (Fifth why, a root cause)

Tip – The problem-solving teams should attempt to get at least one problem statement under at least three of the five bones

# 3. Identify the biggest root cause by using Pareto Analysis

• The teams will use a Pareto Analysis to find 20% of the root causes that caused 80% of the problem.
• Team members vote on all the root causes which came up during step 2 to identify the most significant root cause.

# 4. Restate the new problem for the biggest root-cause

• The original problem statement may no longer be a core issue. Instead it’s the root cause which led to the original problem statement
• The next step is to pick the cause with the most votes and restate it clearly as a problem. Precisely,
redefine the problem statement keeping the root cause in the mind (Highest votes)

# 5. Brainstorm solutions

• The team members will brainstorm solutions for the newer problem statement with root cause
• The team brainstorms as many possible corrective actions as they can think of within a fixed time box (about 15–30 minutes)

# 6. Create Improvement Backlog Items

• The teams would rank top 3 most likely solutions and out of which they will create improvement backlogs which would be fed to upcoming PI
• If you don’t take the action on the problem in upcoming PI, the team will lose confidence on the entire effort
Should I go for SAFe SPC Certification? – Tips for scoring high in exam

I get many questions from people around  SAFe SPC CERTIFICATION. Some of them are listed below but not limited to –

1. I have good exposure to Agile. In order to boost my career should I go for SAFe SPC certification?
2. It costs a lot and further \$900 to be paid every year to renew it. Is it going to be worth?
3. How am going to utilize if my company is not on SAFe?
4. Is it easy?
5. What’s the process to start teaching? How do I become a trainer?
6. I am not at all technical and moreover don’t have much exposure to corporate world. What should I do?

Above all, the most important question is

Who is the best trainer? And where should I go and attend the training?

Let me start with the most important and most frequently asked question. You (or your company) re going to spend good amount of money hence you just want to ensure that you truly learn the concepts so that you can leverage.  I have personally seen many SPCs struggling to teach because they did clear the exam but didn’t understand the concepts well.  People pay the money to be on top in google search doesn’t always mean they are the best. Hence you should do though research before you go for your training. Trust me, the training what you are going to go through has higher weightage than anything else.

I have done good research and I can certainly suggest you the best trainers what I feel would make a difference in your learning based on your location. You can always send an email to me at srsagilechamps@gmail.com and I will guide you multiple options.

The SAFe exam is not easy as well whilst there are two ways you can crack

1. Be a smart candidate – Find the right trainer, understand the concepts well and further find a right mentor (Many a times your training org/trainer would play that role)
2. Be a hardworking candidate – You can’t avoid hard work but not focusing no training and just doing everything by yourself. The disadvantage is you may pass but mostly wont score high. Another limitation is you may lose confidence while teaching people.

I always suggest people to pick the first choice. Your hard-work should be to make your future and not just to clear the exam.

If you are not technical at all and don’t know how corporate world works, then I would say go for Leading SAFe instead of picking SAFe SPC. Or probably you can read details over internet or talk to people those who are SPCs and connected to real world problems solved by SAFe. You may find many institutes would lure you with job success etc but without the basics, it won’t add lots of value.

The majority of companies are building their own SPCs hence don’t expect lots of training requests are coming outside of the market. Although in past two years, SAFe has got lots of traction and probably they are the best when you talk about scaling Agile. If you have good exposure to Agile and feel that you are a good trainer, you can attempt SAFe SPC. The SAFe first principle says “Take an economic view”. I think that’s something you should do it as well.

You should always remember, the principle of product management flow – “While you ignore the economics, it won’t ignore you”.

The exam isn’t easy. In fact, I have seen many people failing the exam despite they scored 80 plus marks in Pre Test. Hence do not take it lightly.

You can always refer my other blog which talks about tips and tricks to score high

In order to start teaching within your company, you should complete respective enablement certifications. For instance you want to teach “Leading SAFe”, you should clear the exam for Leading SAFe post SPC.

The Scale Agile is very good in responding any of the queries hence for any specific questions you can send a message to them and you can expect prompt response. I’m personally a big fan of SAFe since it’s not just processes but it does have lots of leadership, and technology.

Another important point to note is that, if you are a good at technology and at the same time you got a good passion towards Agile, you could be a good trainer. The technology knowledge helps significantly if you truly want to be a trainer. Precisely the chances of success and ROI for doing SPC are quite high.

If your company is not using SAFe and you cant do training outside due to the restriction from your company, you should join SAFe forum and start learning more. With my experience I have seen many SPCs were out of SAFe in this situation due to limited exposure and further who would pay \$800 renewal every year.

To be honest, this is just high level. The decision depends on many factors. You can feel free to drop an email along with your number. I would try to help you as much as I can. I am usually available for a call over weekend.

Thanks for reading the blog. Wish you happy and SAFe journey.