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Would you like to improve the collaboration between the Teams and the Business Owners on your Agile Release Train?

Are you an RTE or someone able to coach and influence how the Train works?

In this second episode, I share with you stories from the field on the power and pitfalls of Uncommitted Objectives.

I offer you a specific deck of cards for your own experiments in that field.

Further, I elaborate on what a Collaborative Conversation between Business Owners and Teams is about and why this is something worth striving for.

Using the second deck of cards, I share how I have been coaching each party to improve the Conversation.

Join this training to explore the topic of this article further from the RTE perspective

Uncommitted Objectives

These are objectives included in the team’s plan within their available capacity, but for some reason something the team cannot commit to.

For more details, read this article from Scaled Agile.

In the video, I explain personal challenges in which uncommitted objectives have helped me as RTE. In short, it is about situations where teams haven’t left any buffer in their plan for the unexpected, failing to meet commitments, losing trust from Business Owners, and then suffering from unhealthy pressure.

To promote appropriate use of Uncommitted Objectives I have created and used the poster as shown in the video.

To avoid overusing uncommitted objectives and make them as useful as possible for Business Owners, I have experimented with ways to convey why a team marks an Objective as uncommitted.

Deck of Cards for Uncommitted Objectives

I have used a simple physical, hand-drawn and small deck of cards to convey the reason for marking an Objective as uncommitted.

Download them HERE

The cards are:

  • Technically Difficult – the work involves using new technologies or applying technologies in a significantly different way making the team uncertain.
  • Unclear Expectations – despite discussions with all available stakeholders and PO/PM, it is still unclear to the team what is really expected of them
  • Outside Control – the team has one or several dependencies outside their control and they have failed to get sufficient level of commitment. These dependencies are typically external to the train like suppliers or other trains
  • Too Loaded – this work is consuming the last portion of the team’s capacity, something that may be consumed by unexpected things not possible to defer
  • People Risk – the uncertainty of availability of specific expertise
  • Other Risks – for any other reason. Needs elaboration

Collaborative Conversation

In this part of the video, I share the characteristics I have personally observed in the conversation between Business Owners and Teams during PI Planning.

I simplify by describing the low collaboration conversation vs the highly collaborative conversation.

The latter form of conversation has in my experience contributed to increased motivation, more valuable commitment from the team, and the ability to make good local decisions during the PI.

Deck of coaching cards for highly Collaborative Conversation

In my coaching to reach a highly collaborative conversation, I have noticed some aspects that have worked repeatedly for me.

These are captured in a simple deck of cards for you to experiment with. Download it here

In coaching the Business Owners, I have focused on e.g., their intention with their questions and their opportunity to make the team proud of their commitment.

In coaching the Teams, I have encouraged them to be very specific on what the Business Owners will get after the PI. I also regularly remind them to assure they really understand why something is important to the business.

Next Episode

Don’t miss the next episode exploring how to Assign Business Value to PI Objectives.

Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to the Youtube channel, not to miss the other episodes in this video series


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at BDD Academy:


For more details on the SAFe concepts I refer to, check out:

Uncommitted Objectives

Program Predictability metric

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