Whenever you let up before the job is done, critical momentum can be lost and regression may follow.

—John Kotter

Coach ART Execution

This is article nine in the SAFe® Implementation Roadmap series. Click here to view the entire roadmap.

In the previous articles in the SAFe Implementation Roadmap series, we described the first eight steps:

At this stage of the implementation, the first big events are now in your rearview mirror. You’ve trained teams, launched the first ART, and held a Program Increment (PI) Planning session. The result of all this effort is an empowered, engaged, and aligned team-of-Agile-teams ready to begin building solutions that deliver value.

Before you move on to that critical work it’s important to understand that training and planning alone do not make the newly formed teams and ARTs Agile. They simply provides the opportunity to begin the journey of becoming Agile. To support this journey, leadership—and SAFe Program Consultants (SPCs) in particular—must be mindful that knowledge does not equal understanding. It takes time to achieve effective team-level Agile practices and behaviors, which is why significant effort must be made to coach ART execution.


To reach this point, the enterprise has made a significant investment in developing SPC change agents and training stakeholders in the new way of working. Now is the time for that investment to pay off, as SPCs and Lean-Agile Leaders focus on what really matters: helping to assure the delivery of value in the shortest sustainable time, while producing the highest quality. That will start to happen when you begin team-level and ART-level coaching.

ART Coaching

Coaching the ART fosters progress in these areas:

Team Coaching

The teams, especially those new to Agile, will need significant help as well. Team coaching opportunities include:

  • Helping teams plan, execute, review, and retrospect the first iterations
  • Coaching new Scrum Masters and Product Owners in their roles
  • Initiating and supporting Agile technical and Built-In Quality practices
  • Helping teams establish the infrastructure, DevOps practices, and culture needed for the continuous delivery pipeline
  • Encouraging and supporting Communities of Practice to help acquire new knowledge and skills

Clearly, there’s no shortage of opportunities for SPCs and Lean-Agile Leaders to practice and demonstrate their new skills and mindset.

An important note: For first-line development and engineering managers, the move to SAFe and Lean-Agile adoption can be scary. Traditional daily and task-oriented supervision is no longer required. Instead, these new ‘Lean-thinking manager-teachers’ adopt a servant-leader approach and take on a different set and style of activities as described in the Lean-Agile Leaders article. The short coaching list above also serves notice that the knowledge and skills of our managers and leaders are incredibly valuable, as there is much work to be done. It just needs to be done differently.

Inspect and Adapt

Finally, there is no coaching opportunity more critical than the first Inspect and Adapt workshop. That’s where everyone will learn how the PI went, how the teams performed against their PI objectives, how well the organization is adopting SAFe, and how the solution they developed really worked at that point in time. In addition, SPCs and coaches can lead the first real corrective action and problem-solving workshop.

This gives teams the tools they need to improve their performance independently. It also allows them to work together—along with their management stakeholders—to collaboratively address the larger impediments that they face.

Moving Forward

For the first ART, then, it’s on to the next PI. But for the reader, it’s on to the next article in the Implementation Roadmap series: Launch More ARTs in the Value Stream.


Additional Resources

SAFe Program Increment Toolkit






Last update: 9 October, 2017