Not Doing SAFe®? No Problem. Not Doing These? Big Problem

January 19, 2014 — Posted by Al Shalloway

There is a lot of negative press about SAFe it seems.  They talk about how it is overkill, but it seems no one recognizes that it suggests a variety of practices that have proven to be essential.  So, if you don’t want to do SAFe, that’s fine, but if you don’t do all of these things, then you are likely going to have troubles.  Here are what we’ve seen to be essential practices at scale:

  • Use a foundation of Lean-Thinking (leadership, respect, flow, kaizen, value)
  • Make all work visible
  • Have explicit workflow and decision policies
  • Value code quality, program execution, alignment and transparency
  • Focus on delivering business value incrementally
  • Focus on achieving feedback quickly in all steps of the value stream
  • Do your release planning  on value delivered not on stories completed
  • Create a portfolio, program, team level hierarchy for the work
  • Attend to minimum business increments (MBIs)
  • Use Kanban to manage WIP at the front of the value stream
  • Manage flow throughout the value stream, by attending to shared backlogs, team structure and WIP
  • Create teams to the extent possible and advisable
  • Use test-first methods
  • Have architecture epics be a peer with business epics
  • Have an owner for the development value stream
  • Attend to delays
  • Push decision making to local levels where advisable
  • Align on cadence and synchronize regularly
  • Achieve continuous integration

In my experience, missing anyone of these can be very detrimental and risky.  While I like Scrum at the team level, Kanban at the implementation level, and the Kanban Method in circumstances where Kaizen is your only option, not one of these addresses all of these essential concepts.

To learn more, please contact me. We are gold partners with SAFe, but it is not our only approach – so we are not selling the one-solution we have (we have a lot of options).  We actually don’t sell at all.  We help you discover what you need and the help you achieve that – if we can’t, we’ll recommend someone who can.

I'd also be happy to engage in the conversation about why these are necessary on the Lean-Agile Yahoo Groups or the Scaled Agile Framework Linked in Group.

Al Shalloway
CEO, Net Objectives


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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With over 40 years of experience, Alan is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, SAFe, Scrum and agile design.


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