The most globally widespread structure for business agility won the corporate market just over a decade ago. It has proved to be even more necessary for the competitive advantage of the small, medium, and large organizations in a scenario increasingly inserted in the digital age.
The SAFe – Scaled Agile Framework – provides for the adoption of a range of skills by organizations and has already been adopted by more than 20 thousand companies with 700 thousand trained professionals worldwide.
Its principles and values establish an agile and lean management model. The framework is an excellent reference for agility, grouping workflow rules, to guide companies to be more productive and efficient. Despite being more widespread today, the concept of ” agility” is not necessarily a novelty for organizations.
The story begins in 2001 with the Agile Manifesto publication after a meeting with major representatives of the main approaches and methods for developing systems. However, in 2010, SAFe gained a name and notoriety in the hands of entrepreneur and software development methodologist Dean Leffingwell.
At the time, Dean had just stepped down as senior vice president of Rational Software (now part of IBM) to focus on his projects. He ended up rewriting a new story about Agile philosophy by releasing that year’s best-seller, “Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise.”
Drew Jemilo – Scaled Agile Co-founder
The book featured a framework called “Agile Enterprise Big Picture,” which described how to apply these agile and lean principles across teams, programs, and portfolios. This integration, necessary for organizational strategic alignment in an increasingly technology-dependent world, resulted in what we know today as SAFe.
Then, in 2011, Scaled Agile Inc. was born. The company arises from the need for an enterprise environment that could offer a public knowledge base and training solutions to help teams and organizations adopt the new way of working – mission and vision. At this moment, Dean Leffingwell received the collaboration of Drew Jemilo, another name of weight on the world stage when the subject is “agility.”
Ten years later and SAFe proves even more necessary for organizations. Consequently, updated versions have been published in recent years. And in January 2020, SAFe 5.0 appears, which has as a premise seven core competencies – strategies to achieve and sustain organizations’ competitive advantage in a 100% digital scenario.
The new competencies pointed out by Leffingwell are Agile Leadership, Technical Agility among the team, Agile Product Delivery, delivery of Business Solutions, Lean Portfolio Management, Organizational Agility, and a Continuous Learning Culture.
AgileTime.News spoke with Dean Leffingwell, the leading authority when it comes to Lean-Agile best practices. Asked about the success of SAFe, Leffingwell highlighted some important points. One of them is the importance of the experience level of employees involved in the process.
Dean Leffingwell – Co-founder and Chief Methodologist of Scaled Agile
“It requires the right business experience. We are founded by experience entrepreneurs in the software domain. This is the fifth company I founded or co-founded, and over time I have seen business models of different types, from services to classic enterprise sales. And There is no substitute for 40-50 years of experience as CEO, director, advisor, board member, or SVP in the software industry,” said the Scaled Agile CEO.
The second question, pointed out by Dean, is the competence to execute the model, and the third, engagement.
“All the businesses that I have worked in focused on the same thing: how to build – and help others build – the world’s most important systems that depend on software. The team we have assembled is on exactly that same mission. It’s not a job for them; it’s what they want to do with their lives.,” he declared.
For this, the entrepreneur highlights that it is necessary to be very dedicated. “You have to be able to execute like crazy. Every ounce of strategy has to be matched by an ounce of execution.,” he warned, recalling that when these factors come together, the “rocket” takes off.
The creator of SAFe also tells about a personal experience that he carries for life.
“I remember a mentor’s advice from decades ago: ‘A CEO only has to do two things well, hire great people and don’t run out of cash.’ So far, so good.”
Scaled Agile Inc.’s mission is that better software and systems make the world a better place. According to the company, the updated version (5.0) represents the most ambitious expansion of this mission in the organization’s entire history, enabling the business agility necessary for companies to compete and thrive in the digital age.
According to Scaled Agile Inc., this requires that every part of the organization involved in delivering technology-based solutions – such as development, operations, manufacturing, legal, marketing, finance, compliance, sales, and others – adopt Lean and Agile principles and practices.
“We help companies achieve business agility through research and thought leadership, reflected on the SAFe website, and through our world-class courses, training, community resources, and certification programs,” the company says.
Example of Agile methodology in Brazil
The implementation of agile methods has also been changing the work environments of Brazilian corporations. An example is the company Adaptworks, which started in 2009, advising companies and training professionals.
Starting in 2013, it focused on the adoption of agile methods in companies. The entrepreneur Roberto Baptista, owner of the company, explains to AgileTimes.News how SAFe has changed paradigms.
Roberto Baptista – Entrepreneur and Chief Learning Officer of Adaptworks
“The methods used until then had a team specifically dedicated to problem-solving. When we heard about SAFe, with lean teams taking care of each solution, with agility on scale, we liked what we saw. In 2014, we became partners of Scaled Agile, a company that maintains SAFe,” said the entrepreneur.
Baptista recalls his participation in the first global SAFe event in 2015.
“The method was already widespread there and also in some countries in Europe. It turned out to be a trip to the future because we brought back a trend that had already happened – and that also reached the country”, explained Roberto Baptista.
As time passed, large companies began to adopt the method. There are SAFe initiatives in giants such as Petrobras, Caixa Econômica Federal, Itaú, and Bradesco, as well as subsections of Unimed. Large corporations saw a method that has as a basic premise to look at the value chain to improve their procedures and ensure good results – both for the company and for the final consumer.
How does SAFe work at Adaptworks?
The value chain is basically the list of all the actors involved in the company process: knowing who is the customer, who is the product consumer, how the order is placed, finally, the proper steps from order to delivery. The first step is this: identify this chain of values and map it.
Then, planning is performed, including the company’s top management, to start the process, with lean teams and short deadlines – with the precise aim of solving specific problems.
Roberto Baptista points out that the company’s top management must “buy the idea”, a fundamental step for implementing the agile model success. “Top management has to be aware, participate, be engaged, and not just sponsor,” said the businessman.