Why SAFe’s Top Layers Are Needed But Overly Complicated

I had hoped they’d fix the underlying flaws of SAFe but am now convinced that will not happen. Here’s why we only help folks doing SAFe but don’t train it anymore:

1) SAFe’s based on levels & not on the value stream. All companies need the concepts in the top levels (e.g., strategies) but these are overly complex due to factors described in the rest of this list so SAFe’s method to achieve them is unusable for many organizations
2) SAFe has tacked concepts together by focusing on roles & artifacts while misusing/redefining previously useful terms
3) SAFe does not have a concise, well-defined concept of the smallest increment of value used to extend an existing product. MVPs are for new products & epics are too large. This makes prioritization across teams difficult
4) there is no simple way to have the org align around value
5) the Lean principles mentioned are used in a superficial way

The result is a pre-defined, over-complicated solution. SAFe can be a massive improvement for companies whose development group is blocked & it provides low cost training materials. But it will not help achieve true agility except when guided by a real expert who goes SAFe to achieve that. SAFe is often used to gain consistency not agility.

These are not idle comments. If you are using SAFe and finding value at the program level but want to improve its higher levels, you will find value in Part IV: Using FLEX to both enhance and simplify SAFe

 

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