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Nov 22, 2021

SAFe for Architects: “The shift to agile architecture impacts everything.”

SAFe for Architects is a relatively new training in the Scaled Agile curriculum. What value does it add and why is it important? A seasoned architect himself, Frank Langeveld is also a SAFe trainer at Gladwell Academy. He shares his insights and experience with organizational architecture.

Improve the impact of architecture

“This course fundamentally addresses how architects work because the shift from traditional architecture to agile architecture impacts everything.

“When the class first sits down, I often get the impression the participants are just expecting to go over the SAFe ‘Big Picture’ and be on their way. By the end however, we have shown them how they can contribute value to their organization in an Agile way, resulting in a greater impact on product development and taking on a leadership role. By learning Agile, Lean, and other SAFe principles they will change how they work at every level.”

The challenge is “uncertainty”

“The key benefit from Agile is the way we work with uncertainty: the dynamics of change surrounding our product. While traditional thinking seeks to stabilize requirements, agile thinking works with change. Change is seen as “learning”: a way to navigate through all the construction ideas and find the ones that really work early in development."

Change is seen as “learning”: a way to navigate through all the construction ideas and find the ones that really work early in development.

Change is an indication that we incorporate feedback in our product and therein lies the key of real business value. But of course, this is not easy: these things require a deeper understanding of what makes Agile work. It is not just one simple practice to follow, but a connection of practices. Scrum alone is not enough: we need Agile at scale!”

The danger of sub-optimization

“Sub-optimization is a common pitfall for many organizations who cannot find the right balance in product quality and time-to-market. It is a very costly and frustrating price to pay! Architects typically understand the dynamics of complex systems and they know which local or partial improvements also improve the system as-a-whole.

“SAFe applies systems thinking and complexity theory in the SAFe architectural practices. The training provides these practices in the context of scaling Agile and this is how the architect can guide the organization towards cost-effective delivery of value.”

Architects need to act

“Most architects develop their skills and knowledge around technology domains: cloud, security, micro services, et cetera. And that’s great, but to be really effective they also need to know how to act.

How (and when) to act towards teams, product owners, other architects, and management. Additionally, they need to know what is it that you need to bring to the meeting? What do you need to prepare? More importantly – as dealing with uncertainty is a challenge for everyone – how can you help others? Because that is what we expect from the architect: to help others with the change toward a more effective and efficient process of product delivery.”


Budgeting, portfolio management, business alignment, strategy, working with partners, architecture review boards, DEVOPS, value streams, architecture backlogs, compliance… it is all there and more, in the training!

What the participants say about SAFe for Architects course:

We reached out to Jimmy Cams, Head of Enterprise Architects at KBC Group and a participant in SAFe for Architects, to get his perspective on what the course offers architects beyond the theoretical.

“First, I want to just say that Frank, our instructor, was amazing. He did an excellent job of explaining the role of a SAFe Architect, and where you fit into the SAFe framework. This is really important since architects mostly operate at the portfolio level, and other SAFe trainings don’t delve too deeply into that level. So, Frank really provided a lot of knowledge that we could really use on a daily basis.”

The course was really amazing, I’d say it opened my eyes to what I can do as a SAFe Architect, what my team can do, and what my organization can do.

“It’s more than that though. You see, we sent all of our architects to attend the course in multiple groups, and the first group really gave Frank a hard time. They were questioning how useful all this theory was at every turn, that’s just what architects do. They kept questioning the theory and how it wasn’t practical with what they were doing day-today. Despite this Frank wasn’t discouraged. When we sent the second group through, not only was he just as motivated and excited to be teaching, he had gone the extra step to incorporate what the first group had said about their work as examples to make the theory more concrete!”

“The course was really amazing, I’d say it opened my eyes to what I can do as a SAFe Architect, what my team can do, and what my organization can do. We’re able to recognize our value streams like never before, and what an architect’s role in the organization means. We’re always moving forward with SAFe, and thanks to this course my team and I can see where and how we can do this ourselves.”

Take the first step in building a new tomorrow

Intrigued by the idea of gaining the tools to change your organization from the inside out while making your day-to-day work faster and more efficient? Consider joining Gladwell Academy trainers like Frank in our SAFe for Architects course and start building a better tomorrow today.

Upcoming SAFe for Architects (ARCH) Courses

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Written by Gladwell Academy, but most of our content is created by trainers and partnering experts!