Scaled Agile and Charter Communications: An experiment in leader development

Scaled Agile and Charter Communications: An experiment in leader development

Customer Stories Lessons from the Trenches

As one of our core competencies, Lean-Agile Leadership describes the mindset and behaviors that can guide organizations down the path to business agility and better outcomes. For the past four years, I’ve been a presenter at the DevOps Enterprise Summit, educating attendees about one specific set of leader behaviors known as transformational leadership. Each year at the end of my talk, I would explain how these leadership traits are teachable and that organizations can adopt them to change their leadership culture from within. Then I’d ask attendees to contact me directly if they were willing to run a leadership development experiment at their organization. 

In 2017, Joe Hunt, Group Vice President, Software Engineering and Architecture at Charter Communications, happened to see my recorded session from the DevOps Enterprise Summit in San Francisco. Joe was starting a new role as head of the video software engineering group after Charter Communications merged with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. At the time Joe took the position, he was dealing with the complexity of three cable companies, the different cultures of three engineering teams, changing customer needs, and the reality that the dev teams weren’t really coming together to meet those needs. Then, nearly one-third of the software engineering group left the company.

Joe knew he had to invest in the remaining team members and thought that my training was just what he needed to help him create a cohesive team and give them the tools they needed to be successful over time. He contacted me to bring the training I described to Charter as an experiment to explore what a Scaled-Agile-sponsored leader development program could look like. Two groups, Joe and his leadership team and the managers reporting to them, went through the program in two separate waves. The results were extremely promising!

So, at this year’s DevOps Enterprise Summit, instead of me just giving another talk about transformational leadership, Joe came with me to co-present a real customer story of developing the leadership culture at Charter. He shared his motivations for the experiment, what we did, the results the group is seeing, and what’s next. It really is an amazing and ongoing journey of leading change highlighted by progress, trust, more engaged employees, and constant improvement. See the full story by watching the entire session from the conference as well as a short interview we did afterward with Digital Anarchist.

By running the experiment with Charter and holding several feedback sessions with customers, partners, and SPCTs, we’ve validated our hypothesis that the market needs and wants this kind of leader development program. We’re making this a high priority going forward in 2020. Stay tuned to the Framework blog for updates!

Stay SAFe,

—Steve

Author Info

Steve Mayner

comment (2)

  1. Avatar

    Scott Frost

    04 Dec 2019 - 8:13 am

    Steve, well done! Kudos to Charter and those leaders who are willing to address these evolutions with experimentation. Getting leaders to be vulnerable (not having all the answers) is the best way to build trust with their peers and teams. Once strong trust is in place, high performing leadership teams are enable. SAFe v5 Lean-Agile Leadership competency drives the conversation beyond implementation into leading by example with new mindsets.

    • Avatar

      Steve Mayner

      04 Dec 2019 - 8:17 am

      Thanks Scott! It was incredibly energizing to see a transformational leader like Joe in action, and to observe his leadership team evolve their mindsets right before our eyes over the course of just a few weeks! Very excited to work with more organizations in 2020 as we seek to make this process repeatable and scaleable for any enterprise!

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