Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Paradise Lost: SAFe banned from the Agile Heaven?


The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) recently seems to have fallen from grace in the agile community.

Most of us noticed that something went wrong with Agile. The Scaled Agile Framework now gets stigmatized into the role of the traitor of the True Agile Mindset, it serves as the negative showcase how the original Agile ideas are corrupted by The Enterprise.

I almost get the impression that nowadays every Agile guru has to pick on SAFe, to prove that he stays truly Agile:


The boys from RUP (Rational Unified Process) are back […] They would be at a waterfall conference, but they are no longer.

A core premise of agile is that the people doing the work are the people who can best figure out how to do it. The job of management is to do anything to help them do so, not suffocate them with SAFe.


This seems awfully similar to Rational Unified Process (RUP) from the 1990s but updated to include Agile practices from the 2000s

 [The SAFe] approach is the antithesis of the Kanban Method!


I did not encounter a single person who had successfully implemented SAFE.

Someone just shot the Agile brand in the back of the head.


This means that we are back to the good old days where there was a chasm between product management and development rather than working hand-in-hand as it is intended in Scrum.

Teams are not allowed to self-organize their alignment and predictability is the goal rather than maximization of value

SAFe accepts the status quo in many enterprises and distinguishes between Product Owner and Product Management. [] This does not help collaboration but is a tayloristic division-of-labor approach.

People don’t have to change with SAFe – they can just go on as they always did and call themselves Agile now.

SAFe believes that the world is good as it is [...] so the status quo has to be accommodated. Agile believes that the world is not a good place (at least for people working in software development) and should be improved. The status quo – especially the tayloristic thinking - has to be changed. This doesn’t fit together. SAFe isn’t Agile.


Update 2014-03-03:

SAFe wraps those ideas [of Lean and Agile] in a package that is designed — intentionally in my opinion — to appeal to today’s managers and executives who do not understand Agile, but who know they have a problem to which Agile may be the solution.
If everyone in the organization were to read the fine print in SAFe, then the organization might very slowly evolve to the level of effectiveness that real Agile provides. That’s not going to happen. Managers and executives are too busy to read the fine print. They are too busy doing their job to study how to do their job. They will too easily fall into old patterns of management behavior, and when they do, SAFe will be installed in a fashion that won’t just fail to support Agile, but that will suppress it.

 SAFe assumes that you need a big “solution” and then provides it. More than likely you don’t need a big solution. 


  1. SAFe is different framework than other but it is little bit hard to implement. I never heard someone implement SAFe successfully in agile programming at first attempt.

  2. >> I almost get the impression that nowadays every Agile guru has to pick on SAFe, to prove that he stays truly Agile:
    As you did ;-)

  3. More critic from Ron Jeffries:




  5. SAFe: the infantilism of management



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