My thoughts on SAFe (The Scaled “Agile” Framework)

October 16, 2021

SAFe is a hot topic. Every once in a while, someone asks me my thoughts on the topic. And while ostensibly, SAFe may only apply to large enterprises, it also seems to get some traction even in small companies. I once worked with a company using SAFe for just 3 Scrum teams.

I have two core thoughts about SAFe:

  1. SAFe is a terrible name, becuase there’s very little “agile” about it. As I’ve said before, I think the very concept of “scaling agile” is flawed. Maybe I’ll start calling it S*Fe for that reason. 🤔

    If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to pull up S*Fe next to the Agile manifesto and do your own comparison. Here are a few of my highlights:

    Agile Manifesto S*Fe
    Individuals and interactions over processes and tools A very complicated process
    Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Barely mentions the customer at all (only once in the standard chart)
    Responding to change over following a plan Built on an 8-12 week plan
  2. S*Fe can still be a big improvement for companies that have a slow, bureaucratic process.

    Just because something isn’t completely “agile” doesn’t mean it’s bad, right? If your organization is benefiting from S*Fe, don’t be ashamed. Embrace what works.

    I just hope you’ll also be free to explore new options when S*Fe is outgrown at your organization!


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