SAFe 5.0 Distilled: Achieving Business Agility with the Scaled Agile Framework

Posted: Apr 23, 2022 in Book Reviews, Business, Leadership, Product Management
Tags: , , , ,

After growing up using the LeSS framework, I’ve been looking forward to learning about #SAFe in detail and comparing it to some of the myths associated with it.

Myth busters of SAFe:
1. Waterfall milestones ❌️ Products governed by self-managing mission-focused agile teams; objective measures and milestones based on working solutions, delivering early and incrementally ✔️
2. People organised in functional silos and temporary project teams ❌️ People organised in value streams/agile teams; continuous value flow ✔️
3. Overly detailed business cases based on speculative ROI ❌️ Lean business cases with MVP, business outcome hypothesis, Agile forecasting and estimating ✔️
4. Doesn’t support Lean Startup principles/innovation ❌️ SAFe Lean Startup Cycle to support high levels of uncertainty using the build-measure-learn Lean startup cycle ✔️
5. It’s not Agile ❌️ Thinking Lean and embracing agility combine to make up a new management approach with a Lean-Agile mindset which aligns with the values and principles in the Agile manifesto ✔️
6. It doesn’t have any compelling principles ❌️ SAFe is based on a set of Lean-Agile principles ✔️:

1. Take an economic view; deliver early and often
2. Apply systems thinking
3. Assume variability; preserve options
4. Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles
5. Base milestones on objective evaluation of working systems
6. Visualise and limit WIP, reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths
7. Apply cadence; synchronise with cross-domain planning
8. Unlock the motivation of knowledge workers
9. Decentralise decision-making
10. Organise around value

Case studies show, that many enterprises – large and small – are getting extraordinary business results from adopting SAFe eg.
• 10-50% happier, more motivated employees
• 30-75% faster time-to-market

I particularly enjoyed reading about how important a continuous learning culture is to SAFe:

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

“Our mindsets are the foundation for achieving success and happiness in life. With the right mindset, anything is possible.”

“Leadership is responsible for driving change proactively by ‘taking a stand’ for a better future state.”

I’d definitely recommend this book, especially for those who want to get an overview of where the Product Manager/PO split comes from.

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