So, what is the strategy for adopting SAFe?

The tips in this article are based on experiences of a large organisation adopting SAFe over one and a half years.

Adoption Strategy #1 Big Bang

This does not work. The enterprise will spend months putting in place tools and systems that they think they will need i.e. they try to predict the future. Only to be proven that it is inadequate with chaos immediately after the big-bang.

Our opinion: Don’t do it.

Adoption Strategy #2 Bottom-Up Guerrilla Tactic

This is quite common with larger organisations where one or two teams adopt scrum, without considering the big picture. Regardless, Scrum then spreads throughout the development teams. Eventually product management and senior management need to be brought on board. But by then, the mismatch between the teams and the executives and middle management could be so great that there is no trust in what they are doing.

Our opinion: This is essentially very ad hoc and any change may in the long-term be unsustainable.

Adoption Strategy #3 Strictly Top Down

Here the management team decide to adopt SAFe. They then force it on the organisation without truly obtaining buy-in from middle management or the teams.

Our opinion: This will result in the best resources leaving and resistance to change. Companies have since given up on Agile altogether.

Adoption Strategy #4 Slice the Cake by Teams & Domains

Once the senior executives and middle management are aware and have the desire, then we can work with the teams. But not all at once!

Product Management need to identify a significant cross-team epic. The enterprise can then plan the first Agile Release Train (ART) to implement it. The teams are then trained and coached through several sprints before Release Planning. But once the first ART is underway, a second ART can be planned. The pattern repeats until the entire organisation is using SAFe. This is not big-bang, bottom-up or top-down, but rather vertical where slices of the organisation adopt SAFe.

In this way repeated learning and adapt cycles reveal where systems and tools need to be developed according to what is needed not what people think is needed.

This learn and adapt mindset needs to be clearly communicated to the enterprise because some individuals will be expecting the transformation team to have all the answers. They do not. Every organisation is different.


Want to read on? Then click here to discover some SAFe related risks that you can identify now.


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