For Those Considering SAFe or Wanting to Improve Their SAFe Implementation

As a former contributor, SPCT, and gold partner, I’ve implemented SAFe in a few companies. One became a case study – Northwestern Mutual Case Study by Scaled Agile Inc and a detailed retrospection on the implementation. The interesting thing to note in our retrospection was how much even back in 2013 we were extending SAFe. We’ve been ahead of the SAFe curve by 2-3 years in the areas of Kanban, architecture, shared services, ops, ATDD, train formation and more. For a while SAFe was adopting our advanced methods but over the last few years we’ve diverged in the critical area of portfolio and product management. This is why we’ve stopped using SAFe materials and hence being a SAFe partner.

This does not mean we don’t help companies adopt SAFe, we just use it as the framework it’s supposed to be – taking what’s useful and leaving the rest.

If you are considering SAFe or already doing it and would like to improve it, my suggestion would be to read Part IX: Using FLEX to both enhance and simplify SAFe  from my book Introducing FLEX – FLow for Enterprise Transformation: Going Beyond Lean and Agile (online book). There are 2 recommended chapters earlier in the book to read as well (mentioned on the first page of the Part). This will take about an hour.

If you want to do SAFe by the Book read How to Use FLEX to Improve SAFe by the Book.

The rest of this page lists some selected pages to read if you don’t have the time or are looking for special topics.

Using the Intake Process to Educate Leadership. One of the reasons SAFe is effective is that it has a very well defined intake process. While this can be improved through the use of minimum business increments, for most companies, having even poorly defined business increments under control is a major step forward.

SAFe discusses the role of leadership and management reasonably well, but doesn’t go into enough depth. Take a look at The role of leadership and managements for a deeper understanding of what they can.

One cannot change culture with a big bang process, but it must be changed for the company to become Agile. See Improving your company’s culture for insights on how Lean suggests culture can be changed.

Miscellaneous topics



Two online FLEX courses are now being offered – FLEX for SAFe, and Adopting FLEX (the first course in becoming a FLEX trainer).

If you want to learn about how to adopt FLEX in your organization please contact the author, Al Shalloway.