What is SAFe? The Scaled Agile Framework – part 1

Enter Dean Leffingwell’s SAFe – the Scaled Agile Framework – a framework designed by Scaled Agile, Inc. to allow large organizations to move toward a more Agile Way Of Working.




The purpose of the Scaled Agile Framework

The framework is an overview of all sorts of ingenious ideas, conceived over time for problems of inflexible organizations looking for more Agility (Agile in a broader sense). In the words of Dean Leffingwell, SAFe helps companies meet major challenges of building large software systems using Lean and Agile.


Tip: before you choose to work with SAFe, it is useful that you first find an answer to the question “What is Agile? “. SAFe is not easy to follow without prior knowledge of Agile.


Why is SAFe so popular?

Carrying on from the hype over Agile, SAFe is seen by many as the next step. DevOps is also very well known for the same reason: it is the next step in the development of organizations that want to become more Agile. There are already several frameworks to take the next step with Agile work, so why is SAFe so popular?

  • SAFe is similar to the current setup of organizations in hierarchical layers.
  • SAFe offers hope in the form of a grand storyline, validated in the market, easy to start off with training, templates and “roadmaps”. Organizations that want to get out of their old patterns like to believe in such grand stories.
  • SAFe sells an illusion of security and, in doing so, taps into the wish of large organizations to make change, risk-free, or at least fully in control.
  • The name supports the feeling that SAFe offers safety and security.


Recognition and trust

Everything seems to be solved by starting to use SAFe. A path of change that seems painful and unattainable with the Agile mirror now becomes gradually bearable. The biggest criticism of SAFe is that it creates the illusion of change without causing real change.



People who have created SAFe are aware of the fact that information alone does not lead to solutions. SAFe would be in the library under the category cookbook. But without a skilled cook you cannot use the recipes. The SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) is a cook trained in 4 days. This cook is trained in basic operations. Under the guidance of the SPC, you can experiment with the SAFe recipes in your organization.

Stages of implementation

In order to offer more guidance to people without a SAFe training, Scaled Agile has defined a step-by-step plan with 12 implementation steps. Eelco Rustenburg, partner of Gladwell Academy, has made a selection and comes to five simple steps. Successful transformations to an Agile organization have led to the step-by-step plan. By implementing the ideas in SAFe, the large organization can:

  1. Increase the quality of output;
  2. Get more work done;
  3. Increase employee involvement;
  4. Deliver what it promised faster.


Have a look at the second blog about the Scaled Agile Framework, in this blog I will point out the available (free) content and the use of the framework itself.


Abram Janse is trainer and coach at Gladwell Academy. He supports the development of social innovation and specializes in interactive agile and change management training. Here he makes use of serious gaming, gamification and online learning platforms for a playful and fun transfer of knowledge and skills.