Small Safe Steps 3s workshop



Agile: Small Safe Steps

Split technical changes into Small Safe Steps




  • Better strategies to manage large and risky changes (safe migrations, reversible changes, risk minimization).
  • Improve your Continuous Delivery techniques:
    • Technical tasks Slicing.
    • Theoretical and practical foundations for Trunk Based Development.
    • Parallel Changes.
    • Expand & Contract.
    • Branch by Abstraction.



In this workshop, we are going to practice how to split technical tasks in an agile way so that we can deliver continuously. The same approach is very useful to make huge architecture changes with good control of the risk and the migration process. Using real scenarios, we will work in groups to split the tasks into Small Safe Steps that can be deployed to production with confidence. Say goodbye to Big Bang releases and the anxiety of getting things into production. Embrace the agile way.


Target group

Any product team member who wants to improve the frequency of deployment, and reduce the anxiety of deploying to production. No programming language knowledge required.


Workshop summary

  • Duration: 2.5h - 3.5h
  • Up to 5 teams of 3-5 members
  • 2 Facilitators



Tools (remote version)

  • Zoom / Meet or other video conference system. We need a room to work together and a room for each of the teams.
  • Google doc.

Slide deck

The slides are divided in the following sections:
  • Introduction (Why we should work in Small Safe Steps)
  • Workhsop rules
  • Scenarios, grouped by topic:
    • Web
    • Logic & Performance
    • Persistence
    • API
    • Communication
  • References & Resources
  • Additional Content

Facilitation guide


Preparing the workshop

  1. Make a copy of the workshop resources (3s Worskshop slidedeck, 3s Workshop Plan, 3s Team workbook) and use them for the following steps.
  2. Select the number and composition of the teams. Each team should have between 3 and 5 members. More than five teams are tough to manage. It is a good idea to mix people who usually don't work together or have different roles and experiences.
  3. If you are going to facilitate the workshop in your company, I recommend you to create two or three additional scenarios based on your daily work. For example, you can set up a scenario for some significant change you have made in the past that you think could have been broken into more steps. Adapt your slide deck and workbook to include those additional scenarios. [Optional step]
  4. Create one workbook per team.
  5. Assuming that each exercise will take between 12 and 15 minutes, select the key scenarios and their order. Between 6 and 8 is a reasonable number for a 2.5-3h workshop.
  6. Document in the workshop plan all the decision taken:
    • number and composition of the teams.
    • scenarios selected
    • links to the team exercise docs
    • links to the slidedeck and videoconference rooms


Running the workshop

Running the workshop remotely adds some challenges. It´s more difficult to have a quick overview of the session, detect problems in the teams, or check that everyone has understood an exercise. So if possible, I recommend to have 2 people facilitating the workshop if you want to run it remotely.

The general flow of the workshop is as follows:

  • We start with a few minutes of presentation (slide deck Introduction) to explain why it is convenient to work in Small Safe Steps. [Approx 10m]
  • Then we explain the mechanics and the rules of the game (slide deck Workshop rules). [Approx 2m]
  • We solve the scenario W1 together, focusing on the different options and the game rules. [Approx 15m]
  • Now we begin to solve each of the scenarios we had selected. See Solving a scenario to learn about the mechanics. [Approx 1.5h-2h]
  • Before moving to another group of scenarios, it´s interesting to see the slide marked "Keep in mind" for the current group.
  • Once you have finished with the selected scenarios, you can comment the references and resources and close the workshop (slide deck References & Resources). [Approx 5m]
  • Additionally, depending on the audience, it may be interesting to deepen in the tactics and patterns used (slide deck Additional Content). [Approx 10m] [Optional]

As the last step of the session, we must comment to the attendees that the slide deck contains as notes example solutions of all scenarios.


Solving a scenario

The dynamics to solve each scenario are the following:
  • Scenario description [Together]. [2m] Read the definition of the scenario together and resolve any doubts about the context or the scenario description.
  • Solve the Scenario [Working in groups]. [10m] Each team goes to its videoconference room for 10m and tries to solve the scenario, writing down each step (deployment or action) in their team working document. During these 10 minutes, the facilitators move around the teams solving doubts and trying to solve any problem. After these 10 minutes, all the teams return to the main videoconference.
  • Share the solutions [Together]. [3m] Select a team to describe their solution. The facilitator must repeat each of the steps/deployments, making sure everybody understand the general strategy. If we detect a problem, we should give alternative solutions with the corresponding trade-off and application context. Once we have an initial solution, we involve the rest of the teams to see other strategies and options. The facilitator should highlight the different options, contexts, and trade-offs that affect each of the solutions.


At this point, we can move on to the next scenario. If the scenario belongs to another group/topic, before advancing, we must review the theory slide of the current group/topic in the slide deck. These slides have the distinctive "To keep in mind".


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