I’ve been reading a lot about SAFe and I know a number of people that are intrigued by what it offers. I’ve seen the struggles of Scaling Agile beyond a small number of teams and SAFe seems to have a thought for how that can be done. In the interest of sharing the positive over the negative, I came to this link from Marty Cagan’s total and complete takedown of SAFe, Revenge of the PMO (please read in addition to this link)!

He highlights that many organizations, in his view, have yet to truly embrace the most important part of agile.

So then – and still today – in most companies, the stakeholders still provide the teams with roadmaps of what features and projects the stakeholders think best. Even though the teams use Agile methods, the teams are not empowered and accountable in the sense I’m describing. They are there to implement.

Honestly, I would agree with that assertion.

A couple years ago I wrote about the root causes of product failure in product companies and I identified ten key attributes of Waterfall and project-mindset. I went through and compared this list with SAFe, and literally all ten problems exist in SAFe. Indeed, I would argue that all ten problems are inherent in that process.

He does give that there are three areas where SAFe may work well, and I note that one of them is a “big regarding-platforming event”. I wonder if this goes back to product versus project organizations?

I strongly endorse his view that tools are not agnostic of culture.

But it’s critical to realize that most tools are not agnostic. Their creators are trying to facilitate a certain way of thinking or working. You need to ensure that’s how you want to think or work.

Both of these articles are worthy reads to make sure that you see all sides of this agile discussion.