How does a Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe) Transformation stick and sustain? An important key to success is having communicative leaders who commit to organizational culture change. While this commitment is best obtained from the C-suite or VPs early in the sales cycle, it is also the hardest. SAFe Transformations tend to start and stop in the IT department, where the primary goal is to produce a faster software development lifecycle.
Agile is disciplined; not reckless.
“That’s not how we do things here.”
“That will never work for us.”
“That’s not our culture.”
Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve heard or even said one of these phrases before. If so, you might be trudging through a Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe) Transformation.
If you think that your SAFe Transformation is doomed to fail because your organization is unique—so unique that industry best practices couldn’t possibly apply to you—then let’s dispel that myth right now. That's not why SAFe Transformations fail. Sure, context matters, but at the end of the day, large enterprises across all industries have the same problems.
A colleague suggested I write this article, and I quickly agreed, thinking to myself, “No sweat! There are so many little things that can make a big difference. I can type this out in no time.”
Now pause. Go back and review that last thought. Do you see a flaw in my logic here? “There are so many little things...I can type this out in no time.” Did I really think a long list of things would make this task any easier? That it would make the writing process fly by?
"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."
— Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1532)
SAFe® is all the rage, folks. With over 300,000 trained SAFe practitioners in demand all over the globe, including at over 70% of Fortune 100 companies, The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is by far the most popular framework for scaling agile. Considering that Scaled Agile, Inc. started in 2010, this growth is no small feat. SAFe has a positive track record as the most viable framework for better solution delivery (just see one of their 50+ case studies), and many businesses may view it as the silver bullet to solve their modern value delivery problems.
It’s in our instinct to ‘seek the path of least resistance’, and SAFe could very well be the easiest, most clearly defined way to scale agile. Consequently, it’s common to enter a SAFe Transformation with a set of false expectations. Whether you’re considering SAFe or just starting the journey, my goal is to help you prepare for reality.