Does using SAFe mean you recognize that evolution is the best your bureaucracy can hope for?

I'm wondering after watching SAFe after 3 organizations...

Is SAFe designed for transformation or is it evolution in transformational clothing? SAFe claims to be transformationally agile but it makes sure to click all the check boxes for a large organization. It seems structured to enable buy-in. 

Who is the target audience for SAFe? Is SAFe designed for bureaucracies that want to evolve knowing that transformation is beyond their reach? Many organizations can only transform in a crisis.  Transformation is unlikely when people talk about adapting the approach to the org more than they talk about changing the org to the approach. SAFe has a lot of pieces so "adaptation" discussions happen immediately attenuating the transformation.

It feels like the bulk of the SAFe adopters are large companies or government agencies. Small companies or big tech build their own culture and processes tuned to tech and seem to rarely use SAFe or other big agile.

Transformations take years. Bureaucracies can't stand to be under threat or stress for that amount of time. SAFe claims that it is a transformational tool but it feels like it will always be an evolutionary adaptation with a few "mini-waterfall" components. What do you think?

There are things about SAFe that I really love.  

  • Non Functional Requirement
  • Differentiation of Technical and Business Features, release early, enabling change when the business is ready.  
  • Some of those sound very agile but it doesn't really work that way in a large company. 

Some organizations pay lip service to the most agile pieces because they just don't believe they need to transform or they are afraid of the dip that comes while re-learning. Existing bureaucracies: 

  • Hate repeated inspect and adapt cycles which is the core of Agile. Repeated operations that don't directly tie to a business feature are deliverable and seem to become process or overhead if not done well. 
  • Never shorten their cycle times.  They fight to lengthen the iteration cycles.  They say there is too much to do in an iteration. 
  • Never prioritize their backlog or trust the backlog.  You know this is true when the current state and status are delivered via report or presentation.

Mixing the design and its actual impact.

The comments above mix two different topics.  

  1. The first looks at the actual design and handling of SAFe.  Is it really Agile or is it something else?  
  2. The second focuses on how it is actually implemented and how companies treat it. 

Revision History

Created 2023 06


Popular posts from this blog

Understanding your WSL2 RAM and swap - Changing the default 50%-25%

Installing the RNDIS driver on Windows 11 to use USB Raspberry Pi as network attached

DNS for Azure Point to Site (P2S) VPN - getting the internal IPs