In this case, SAFe is a good starting point covering many of the uncertainties and challenges. Change can feel hard and many efforts die before they even really begin. Staying focused on the SAFe principles keeps you on the track while on your way to Agile. Personally, I have my top three principles from the regular nine principles. In this article, I would like to explain why.
1. Take an economic view
As I already mentioned in my previous article, for me the most important pillar of SAFe is the transparency. It is required not only on side of the ongoing work needed to be carried out but also on the economical side. Everyone in the company – be it management or a knowledge worker – should know the economic benefit that the company is working towards. Products only make sense if they also make sense economically. Otherwise, you produce waste (products that do not add value to people and society). This is in contradiction to being Lean. Therefore, you should consider this especially, because Lean is the foundation of the “SAFe House of Lean” and therefore the foundation of SAFe as such.
2. Apply system thinking
One of the main thoughts of SAFe is that whatever you are doing, you should always consider the impact this change will have on the entire system. With this in mind, one should always take a holistic view and pay attention to the impact of each action on the whole system.
Actions take place on the system level in production / design / deployment / maintenance as well as within the system (the organisation itself can be seen as a system).
Whatever you change within the system (meaning all changes affecting one part as well as all interactions between different elements within the system), it all should be kept in mind. Therefore, always consider the impacts, be it a part of a particular piece of software or the way in which a team works. The overall influence needs to be considered so that the system remains stable.
3. Apply cadence, synchronise with cross-domain planning
Building complex systems or solutions requires that all subsystems contributing to the overall system are aligned. This not only applies for all technical systems but also for the system building the system.
Alignment is most efficient if it happens at the same time. It is essential to have individual planning synchronised on all levels.
A prerequisite for this is that everyone is working on the same rhythm – with the same cadence, with individual team planning for all teams as well the overall planning for all teams happening at the same time so that no delay occurs caused by the eventual waiting time between team plannings involved.
Most teams that are working with Scrum explicitly love the rhythm that Scrum provides. Everyone knows it – the so-called heartbeat of Scrum. Everyone knows what’s happening and when. With Program Increment Planning, this heartbeat is being brought to the enterprise level.
If you are considering implementing SAFe, you should be prepared for the fact that everyone in the company needs to have the same knowledge status. This is something I always highlight and stress – everyone needs to have the same understanding, with no room for individual interpretations. If not introduced cleanly, more chaos than real benefit can be created.
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