How much Agile brings you SAFe?

SAFe-art25It is already some time, since Scalable Agile Framework (SAFe) has been published. And I remember my first impression when I saw it – „what is Agile at this process?” Last year I was in London and I noticed there is a presentation of the framework by Dean Leffingwell, so I took opportunity to satisfy some curiosity and did have a look. I did not know at that time, Dean is author of the framework.

I was surprised by one aspect. To me, key agile component is „Individual and interactions over processes and tools“. And in this framework I couldnt see, how will I put people into it. Dean’s presentation did not helped me a lot. I have got a feeling that somebody tries to hide some waterfall process claiming it is Agile. From extensive “process” to administer which group will do what is only small step to implement KPIs and monitoring tools, escalation hierarchies and other instruments, which are believed brings control into the process.

In global Agile community, there are occasional talks about SAFe. They are quite controversial. It seems to me, that prevailing opinion supports my thoughts and worries that there is not too much agility in this. I recommend articles by:

Ken Schwaber – unSAFe at any speed.

Dave Snowden – SAFe: the infantilism of management.

There are also opinions, which says there is little value in it for rigid organizations, as it could help them organize portfolio when they would implement this tool correctly.

When organizing Agilia Conference 2014, I was thinking whether to present it, and finally I decided to do so that people can do judgment by themselves. For those interested to submerge deeper, we have prepared workshop in SAFe at Aguarra.


About author: Michal Vallo helps companies deploy agile techniques and improve performance. He is agile trainer, coach and manager at Aguarra, founding member of Agilia community and organizer of Agilia Conference in Brno and Agilia Budapest Conference.