Why Net Objectives Is Going from Gold to Bronze in 2018

January 7, 2018 — Posted by Al Shalloway

In mid-January we’ll become a bronze partner with SAFe after being gold for about 5 years. In reality, we’ve never been much of a SAFe shop. Our SAFe related revenues always being a very small percentage of our business. But more importantly, we’ve never done SAFe by the book.  Even our first SAFe implementation at Northwestern Mutual, which ended up being a case study, was done against the “all-in all-the-way” implementation method somewhat demanded at the time.  In addition, we added several practices that weren’t in SAFe that were key to its success.

We had already been effective at scale prior to SAFe and had significant overlap with SAFe when it came out. We have promoted SAFe because:

  1. SAFe promotes some ideas that have been woefully missing in the Agile consulting industry
  2. We’ve always felt that improving SAFe is a way of improving the industry

We were early contributors to SAFe in two ways. First, we were formal contributors by giving them our IP in Acceptance Test-Driven Development and Test-Driven Development.  I also co-taught 3 courses with Dean, Jennifer and Alex.  During these courses I taught the architecture sections and how Kanban can (should) be used for shared services.  Several of the concepts I discussed showed up in later versions of SAFe which was my intent.

But we’ve always held a different view from SAFe.  We’ve always believed in coming from business value, not starting by tying teams together. I recollect re-arranging the Leading SAFe deck to teach by the flow of work, and not bottom up.  This reflects what still remains one of the biggest differences in our own approach and SAFe – we prefer to take complete value streams and work on them partially than take the SAFe Essentials view of taking only part of a value stream completely.

I don’t anticipate going from gold to bronze to change our attitudes much about SAFe.  We’ve never been attached to is as evidenced by past blogs:

So why make the change now? Since starting out closely with SAFe our intentions have diverged.  We have always wanted to provide the best methods possible to people.  SAFe is going for a different direction – having the largest impact industry wide.  In our case we can take advantage of having consultants with an average of 15 years experience in Lean and Agile methods.  SAFe is going after methods of improving organizations having little experience.  This is a good thing – demand has clearly outstripped supply.

But the result has been SAFe has become a somewhat commodity market – never Net Objectives’ calling.  We are remaining a partner for 3 reasons:

  1. We want people to know we understand SAFe even if we don’t use it a lot
  2. We want to be able to help people who have reached the limits their SAFe adoption will take them
  3. We want to provide alternatives to those considering SAFe that want a more tailored approach or don’t feel they need such a large framework.

This is why we are now documenting FLEX and letting people know about it being an alternative to SAFe – particularly in the mid-scale arena (50-1000 people in technology).

BTW – if you are looking for seriously good SPCTs who implement SAFe consistent with SAIs approach but have a flexible attitude, check out Martin Olson and Armond Mehrabian.  These are both trusted associates of Net Objectives and I don’t think you’ll find better in the SAFe space. 

Of course, as bronze partners, if you want to check out SAFe implementations, give me a call and check out our FLEX/SAFe site.

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.


Comments

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