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Sep 28, 2023

Elevate your RTE role: Tips for RTEs

Terese Ingram, the distinguished chairwoman of this year's RTE Summit, boasts extensive experience in the realm of Release Train Engineer (RTE). Having guided successful SAFe transformations for numerous companies, her expertise is invaluable. Through her journey, she has keenly observed common pitfalls faced by RTEs. Dive into her insights by exploring the blog.

The Release Train Engineer (RTE) has a crucial role in an enterprise with copious responsibilities. Often considered a “jack of all trades,” the RTE’s responsibilities vary but are all connected. Per the Scaled Agile Framework website, “the Release Train Engineer is a servant leader and ART coach who facilitates ART events and processes and supports teams in delivering value…they escalate impediments, manage risk, and help ensure value delivery and relentless improvement” amongst other things. With this description and the varying daily tasks, RTEs often find themselves pulled in several directions. Even with coaching teams and stakeholders on best practices and ways of working to avoid certain pitfalls, RTEs sometimes also find themselves having a growing backlog that becomes the infamous queue that we all advise our teams against, falling into the trap of starting and not finishing work, or even attempting to tackle topics that are bigger than ideal.

Tips for the RTEs

As with everything around us, there is always more than one thing to do; many objectives and tasks run in parallel. There are many stakeholders to satisfy and the next PI Planning to prepare. While the RTE is busy focusing on the five primary types of activities of Improving Relentlessly, Facilitating PI Planning, Optimizing Flow, Supporting PI Execution, and Coaching the ART, who is supporting the RTE? Though the RTE has many responsibilities, the RTE cannot succeed as a “lone wolf.” One responsibility of RTEs that is not always at the forefront of our minds is being able to ask for help.

There is a saying: “it takes a village to…” An RTE must also rely on the village to aid in their success. Through connecting with others, training, coaching, and being transparent and visible, the “village” can better support and advocate for the RTE and profit from the RTE’s guidance. It doesn’t happen quickly or easily, and it is not one-directional. RTEs can facilitate ways of working that create an environment where support and collaboration thrive and become bi-directional.

Two steps to start getting the help you need:

  1. As with most things, acknowledgement is vital. Acknowledge that you need help. You alone do not need to be a tribe of one.
  2. Ask for the help you need. In a trusting environment, vulnerability is welcome and is not punished. Leading by example allows the others around you to trust and rally to support you


  1. Know what is priority and where you need help.
  2. Understand delegation and decentralized decision-making, learn how to delegate, determine what can be delegated and to whom, and delegate.
  3. Make connections and get to know the people on your ART. Spend time at Gemba.
  4. Determine the levels and types of connection and collaboration you need based on people's roles on the ART. Stakeholder mapping is a tool that could help you get started.
  5. Evaluate the relationship between you and the Scrum Masters/Team Facilitators/Agile Coaches of the ART and establish ways of working with them.
  6. Learn about the people with whom you will work closely and what motivates them. When we think about people's intrinsic motivation, we often think of Daniel Pink and Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Though this is a common reference with the book "Drive” by Daniel Pink, have you gone further to understand these motivators? The Moving Motivators tool from Management 3.0 can be a starting point and enlightening to build trust and get help.
  7. Create an environment that fosters motivation, engagement, and empowerment. Creating the right environment requires nurturing, understanding, trust and transparency. How can you build such an environment?
  8. Be clear about vision, objectives, expected outcomes and how to measure success.
  9. Inspect and adapt frequently, trust and give space to people to be innovative and creative.
  10. Lead by example.

“Tribal Unity” by Em Campbell-Pretty notes that “successful tribe leaders need to participate in the change they are leading, and leaders can create connections with the people in their tribe by spending time at the Gemba.” As a prerequisite, the leaders should also know their tribe/village – the people they work with – the stakeholders. Just like all the leaders of the ART, the RTE provides and receives support from the “tribe” or “village” or community.

RTE Summit 2024

For RTEs by RTEs, this is your event! The 9th RTE Summit is a great opportunity to connect with fellow RTE professionals, gain valuable insights, and stay ahead of the curve as an RTE.

Written by Terese Ingram, Senior Trainer and Chairwoman of RTE Summit 2023