Starting with Essential SAFe does get people working together. But the real problem for most companies is that they can’t sequence work well and are working on too many too large items. This causes thrashing and delays delivery. You don’t have to implement the higher levels of SAFe to get much of the benefit they promise. All you have to do is make explicit a powerful concept missing in all of SAFe – the Minimum Business Increment (MBI).
MBIs are the smallest releasable chunk of value that also contains all that is necessary to realize value (e.g., any marketing, ops, or support issues). This is not the same as an MVP which SAFe defines as “the smallest thing that can be built to evaluate whether the hypothesis is valid.” MBIs are used to decompose initiatives into releasable chunks.
MBIs fit between epics (which are larger than what can be released) and features. Doing WSJF on epics or features is not as effective as doing WSJF on MBIs since not all of an epic needs to be delivered and many features provide no value until others are also delivered. WSJF needs to be done on the smallest releasable items. Using MBIs to drive your programs will increase value delivered and alignment.
To learn more about MBIs and release planning with them see: