Is SAFe agile?

Do a bit of research on SAFe the Scaled Agile Framework or mention it to a team of Agile Coaches/Scrum Masters it won’t be long until eyebrows are raised and somebody explains to why it’s isn’t an agile framework at all! But before joining the argument does it even matter?

I often work with companies that would like help with their agile journey… but delve a little deeper and often it’s not being more agile that really drives them. It could be difficulties in delivering a large complex project… Or a perception that they are slow to respond or just around low predictability.

Very few companies want to be agile just so they can say they do agile! There’s usually a greater optimisation goal they would like to achieve.

As such I’d rather not discuss SAFe in terms of is it agile or not but rather how could it help?

It’s one of the few frameworks that spends a lot of time discussing economic decision making frameworks and perhaps most importantly sequencing of work based on economics. If you take nothing else from SAFe study how to run an agile portfolio… It’s probably where the biggest gains are to be made.

SAFe is probably not best suited to highly complex domains which require constant probing and exploration and where pivots are to be expected.

However for large organisations who are struggling to deliver products the use of SAFe would deliver considerable economic improvements from their current processes.

Christian Miles