CoActivation: Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) for Enterprise-level Implementation
Not many can have accomplishments that Mark Richards, the founder of CoActivation, has earned in his career. From coaching the first professional Australian implementation at Telstra to becoming the world’s first Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Program Consultant Trainer, he has a long list of firsts to his name when it comes to SAFe. His excellence along with the expertise of his venture, CoActivation can be described well in the words of the creator of SAFe, Dean Leffingwell. “SAFe Fellow Mark Richards was an early adopter of Scaled Agile Framework and has contributed materially to its development. He is a trusted advisor to Scaled Agile, Inc., as well as to me personally in addition to proving adept at facilitating some of the largest and most challenging SAFe implementations across the globe.”
Under Richards’ leadership, CoActivation holds a prominent position in the SAFe space and addresses the challenges in scaling agile at the enterprise level by adopting a “leadership first” approach. The company’s prime task since its inception in September 2017 has been to ensure that SAFe benefits companies of all kinds. Another challenge includes overcoming the rigidity of large organizations with regard to well-established methods and small self-governing teams that lack structure. Success with scaling is about how well the executives of an organization understand the framework’s functioning and embrace the role of leadership in changing the system of work. Thus, CoActivation focuses primarily on training and coaching executives and senior leadership and assists them in defining and executing their own implementation strategy, with the goal of minimizing and eventually eradicating the need to rely on external consulting.
CoActivation focuses primarily on training and coaching executives and senior leadership and assists them in defining and executing their own implementation strategy
“We begin with asking our client for two days of their executives’ time in order to help them comprehend the minute details about the working of the framework, how it is intended to benefit their organization, and the required changes at all levels of the organization,” explains Richards. By the end of these two days, the executives can pinpoint the areas that need alterations, thus planning their organization’s way forward.
The company also offers a SAFe City Simulation feature that focuses on enabling understanding and take-up of SAFe’s Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) economic prioritization model, which leverages Cost of Delay to optimize outcomes. The simulation has already been translated into French and German, and is currently being translated into Spanish and Russian. It is also one of the company’s ways of giving back to the community.
CoActivation’s on-going contract with the Department of Human Services serves as a perfect example of the effective consulting it renders to clients. The federal agency has been conducting a large-scale enterprise transformation program named Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) since 2014. Two years into the program, the department was looking to accelerate the realization of benefits and became interested in SAFe as a potential enabler. Referred to CoActivation, they began with a two-day training course for the department’s executives, following which they elected to pilot the framework in the student welfare space. The Agile Release Train that was launched three months later faced numerous challenges during the initial months but managed to thrive by learning lessons and adapting quickly. Satisfied with the results, the department chose to “double down” on SAFe, amplifying their implementation through the establishment of further Agile Release Trains and a transition to SAFe’s Lean Portfolio Management approach.
CoActivation has improved the business outcomes and work culture of many such clients. “With clients lined up for the rest of the financial year, we look forward to validating our role in helping our clients achieve their desired outcomes,” concludes Richards.