Here are the ten SAFe Essential’s and how FLEX implements them:
Lean-Agile Principles. FLEX’s core is Lean-Agile. It takes a fully systems-thinking approach, looking at the realization of business value as a whole. FLEX is truly flow based while SAFe is essentially large batches (3 month planning cycles) with Lean attempting to speed it up.
- Cross Functional Teams and Trains. These are always good, but what if you can’t achieve them? FLEX includes methods for improving trains when these can’t be achieved. Some of these methods were used in the Northwestern Mutual SAFe adoption led by Net Objectives.
- Cadence and Synchronization. This is an essential part of any Agile endeavor involving more than one team. FLEX and SAFe are very similar here.
- Program Increment Planning. While often required for large scale, a flow based planning model done every two weeks is sufficient for most mid-scale organizations. The intention is to manage dependencies and create visibility and agreements across teams. This does not need to be the 2-3 months SAFe suggests when at mid-scale.
- DevOps and Release-ability. DevOps is a critical part of efficient deployment and realization of value. FLEX’s focus on visibility of work, workflow, and workload facilitates devops considerably.
- System Demo. The program increment planning event ensures dependencies are tracked. But FLEX’s flow based planning model results in faster coordination than at the time of release. This enables quicker demoing of full features.
- Inspect and Adapt. This is useful to improve current methods. Double-loop learning takes this to another level by challenging your core assumptions. This is essential to make any course corrections in approach.
- Innovation and Planning Iteration. Taking time out for innovation makes sense when there is no other way to achieve it. But being able to innovate in a somewhat continuous manner is usually better. At mid-scale a separate innovation iteration is typically not necessary.
- Architectural Runway. Both the architectural runway and intentional architecture of SAFe are built on emergent design and can be enhanced with Design Patterns Thinking. Net Objectives has been a leader in the field of design patterns, Acceptance Test-Driven Development, Sustainable Test-Driven Development and more. In fact, Net Objectives was the contributor to the technical agility methods of SAFe.
- Lean-Agile Leadership is an essential part of any organization. FLEX lays out several leadership and management roles to improve the ecosystem of the organization while making it clear what strategic initiatives are required to manifest the mission of the company.