Sequencing the Work

Adopting SAFe® for Your Organization (online book)


Part 1. Understand Your Problems Before Looking for Solutions

  1. The Goal Is Business Agility: What's in your way?
  2. Inherent Problems at Scale
    • The Symptoms
    • The Underlying Issues
  3. Looking at Our Work From a Value Stream Perspective
    • Lean tells us to focus on flow
    • Why attending to delays is important
    • Lack of prioritization of business initiatives
    • Looking at SAFe from a value stream perspective
    • Taking a lean-agile view (FLEX)
    • Looking at our problems from a value stream perspective
  4. Seeing our Challenges in the Value Stream

Part 2. What's Needed at Small to Mid-Scale

  1. The Attraction of SAFe
  2. Overview of SAFe Essentials
  3. Why Essential SAFe is Both More and Less Than What's Needed at Small to Mid-Scale
  • Essential SAFe is designed for programs in large organizations
  • Essential SAFe for mid-scale
  • Essential SAFe for programs in large-scale
  • What Essential SAFe Leaves Out
  • The challenge with coupling the value stream to the levels of the organization
  • What needs to be added
  • How focusing on the value stream enables this approach to grow as the company grows

Part 3. Essential SAFe With FLEX

  1. Simplifying SAFe While Making It More Effective
  2. The Business Case for Agility
  3. Strategic Planning
  4. Lean-Agile Product Development
  5. Planning, Collaboration, and Dependency Management
  6. Implementation and Integration
  7. Release and Realization
  8. Other Factors
    • The role of Systems-Thinking, Leadership and Management
    • Create Visibility
    • Improving Your Company's Culture
    • Collaboration and alignment
    • Agreements regarding collaboration
    • Aligning across an organization

Part 4. Starting a Lean-Agile Adoption of Essential SAFe With FLEX as a Guide

  1. Tailoring SAFe for your organization
4.2 Scorecards for continuous improvement 4.3 Leading your organization

Part 5. SAFe With FLEX at Large-Scale

  1. Strategic planning
  2. Lean-Agile Product Development
  3. Implementation and integration
  4. Release and realization
  5. Other factors

Part 6. Starting a Lean-Agile Adoption of SAFe at Large-Scale

6.1 Tailoring SAFe for your organization
  • Identifying challenges
  • Adoption roadmaps
6.2 Scorecards for continuous improvement 6.3 Leading your organization


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Sequencing the work

Don Reinertsen suggests, “If you quantify one thing quantify cost of delay.” His weighted shortest job first (WSJF) can be used to sequence work in a manner that will maximize the return. Work must be sequenced, not prioritized. Everything can be a top priority. But a sequence forces decisions to be made about which items is more important than another. When this decision isn’t made, it sets the stage for ambiguity throughout the organization on what to work on.  This leads less important work holding up more important work and starting more work than should be being worked on.

The sequence of the work is what people throughout the organization should attend to when making decisions about which items to work on.

Coming up with a single sequence

What Work to Sequence

SAFe suggests that the work to be sequenced is

The question of what items to sequence the work on should

However, which work items to be worked on is very important.  In SAFe, WSJF is used on epics and features.


Opportunities Lost With SAFe’s Definition of WSJF


Don Reinertsen defines WSJF as Cost of Delay (COD) divided by task duration.

In SAFe, WSJF is estimated as the Cost of Delay (CoD) divided by job size.