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Insights by Agilicist

Do they ever think about what comes next?



Scrum Masters eh? Do they ever think about what comes next?


I don't mean in terms of work, but for yourselves. How long have you been a Scrum Master? More than five years? What comes after Scrum Master? Have you planned for your next step?


Are you ready?

As a seasoned Scrum Master, you’ve honed your skills, navigated sprint cycles, and facilitated countless ceremonies. But what lies beyond the Scrum board? How can you elevate your impact and propel your career forward?

If you’re thinking “I’ll make senior Scrum Master soon” at least it’s the right direction. At least you’re not thinking that you’ll become an agile coach. You could change your path and go down the product manager route. You just need to join the back of the PO queue.


Ready for what?

There is another option, a better, more rounded option. Some of you will baulk at the next sentence, but stick with it – it's what an agile coach would advise :)

Meet the Release Train Engineer (RTE)—the unsung hero of mature organisations. An RTE doesn’t just manage sprints; they orchestrate value symphonically across program-level activities. Picture yourself as the conductor, guiding Agile teams toward harmonious delivery.


But why should I bother?

Here’s why transitioning to an RTE role could be your next brilliant move:

An RTE is, in some ways, similar to a Chief Scrum Master, but works at a higher level of complexity and responsibility. They facilitate big room planning events, manage all the risks and dependencies across the entire value stream, and, ensures that the teams deliver value - all whilst ensuring everyone in the organisation continuously improves.


Are there actually actual benefits to actualise?

There’s a tonne of career benefits of becoming an RTE, you can work at a programme level and have a broader impact on the organisation’s goals and vision. Because you work with multiple senior stakeholders and leadership teams, you can develop your leadership skills, communication, and facilitation skills. And then you can increase your visibility and recognition within the organisation and even the wider Agile community.


But do you have what it takes?

An RTE isn’t just a good scrum master, it’s a much richer role.

If you have experience working on a multi-team project or act as a leader for your scrum master peers.

If you have strong understanding of the Agile principles rather than blindly following the Scrum rules.

And if you have essential soft skills, like patience, attentiveness, calmness, assertiveness, and adaptability. Then you might just be prime for the next step.


Thanks, but I'm not interested in SAFe

You might be thinking now, why would I want to do a SAFe specific role, when #SAFe is on the decline. And it’s not proper agile anyway is it? You are right in a way, RTE is a particularly SAFe term, and while SAFe is a popular approach to scaling agile practices across large and complex organisations, it has recently faced some criticism from agile purists who argue that it is too prescriptive, bureaucratic, and incompatible with the agile values and principles.


Now, we know that’s not at all true (but there’s another article for that), what we want to know is whether SAFe (and more importantly SAFe roles) is on the decline, and whether training to become an RTE has benefits outside of SAFe.


There is no definitive answer to whether SAFe roles are on the decline or not, as different sources may have different perspectives and data. However, some possible indicators are:

The number of SAFe certifications and trainings: According to the Scaled Agile website, there are over 800,000 SAFe certified professionals and over 3,000 SAFe trainers worldwide. This suggests that there is still a high demand and interest in learning and applying SAFe.

There are many platforms where agile practitioners share their experiences with SAFe. Some of them are positive and highlight the benefits and advantages, such as alignment, coordination, governance, and predictability. Others are negative and point out the drawbacks, such as complexity, rigidity, and bureaucracy.

In summary, SAFe is a controversial and debated topic in the agile community. There are arguments and evidence for both its success and failure, and its rise and fall. Ultimately, the best way to evaluate SAFe is to do it for real. The thing that irks me about misanthropical naysayers is that most of them do it without genuine experience. Learn it, try it and prove me wrong.

According to the 17th Annual State of Agile Report, SAFe is still the most widely used scaling framework at 26%. And in large organisations it rises to 34%. However, the bigger story there is, that the use of scaling frameworks in general is declining, as more organisations prefer to use their own custom or hybrid approaches. And, all of those approaches need someone to be the orchestrator, there’s got to be someone senior that protects against water-scrum-fall.


Summary

So in summary, by becoming an RTE you can unlock your potential in four ways:


1. Elevate Your Influence

As an RTE, you’ll step onto a grander stage—one where organisational goals and vision take centre stage. You’ll collaborate with senior stakeholders, your decisions will shape outcomes and drive success.


2. Master Complexity

Think of the RTE as the Scrum Master’s older sibling—the one who juggles multiple responsibilities without breaking a sweat. You’ll untangle intricate dependencies and mitigate risks across the organisation. Complexity won’t daunt you; it’ll fuel your passion.


3. Cultivate Leadership Skills

Leading Agile teams is one thing; leading Agile organisations is quite another league altogether. As an RTE, you’ll hone your leadership acumen. You’ll inspire change, foster collaboration, and champion continuous improvement. Your influence won’t be confined to ceremonies; it’ll shape the very fabric of your organisation.


4. Boost Your Visibility

Picture this: You’re in the boardroom, discussing strategic initiatives with C-suite executives. Your insights matter; your voice resonates. As an RTE, you’ll bridge the gap between technical excellence and business acumen. Your visibility will soar, and recognition will follow suit.


So, dear #ScrumMaster, ponder your next move. Will you settle for the familiar, or will you embrace the challenge? The #RTE course awaits—an opportunity to spread your wings, elevate your career, and orchestrate transformation.


Get yourself on the RTE Course with the worlds best trainer Abb!


Click here for more information about the course and how to book your slot.





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