The Evolution of SAFe: 6.0 is here!

Launch of SAFe 6.0

On March 15, 2023, SAFe 6.0 was officially released. Naturally, this raises questions, such as how the update will affect your work, assignments or even the organization. But don't worry! Just take a moment and read along: you'll figure it out in no time.

Work Differently. Build the Future.

1. Flow

The New Big Picture: Flow

One of the most notable terms in SAFe 6.0 is flow. By this, the authors refer to the connection between different levels and layers within the entire organization. This connection runs from portfolio level to the most important decisions of the enterprise. And thatโ€™s exactly why flow is so important: everyone has to deal with it, including the client. In the new framework, you will find 4 new flow articles:

  • Portfolio flow
  • Solution Train Flow
  • ART Flow
  • Team Flow

Each of these articles offers guidance on how to address, optimize and debug problems with a constant flow of value at the particular level.

In addition to the importance of flow, there are two more notable differences from the previous version of SAFe. The core competency Continuous Learning Culture has become a fundamental competency for any business since the update, since mere knowledge acquisition does not guarantee its (correct) application. Lastly, the ability to continuously continue learning has also been identified as essential.

2. Core Values

Core Values & Principles

Two new core values

Two new core values have been added to SAFe 6.0. First, People & culture. Because without people, there is no organization (and vice versa). In addition, the core value of Relentless improvement has been added. This refers to the mindset and ability to stay in the flow as a team, as well as in a team of teams.

Revised SAFe principles

SAFe principle #6 - the principle that emphasizes the common characteristics of a flow based system - has been modified and is now better aligned with the 5 principles of Lean Thinking. Specific accelerators are also provided to help tackle obstacles to the flow.

Also, SAFe principle #6, along with SAFe principle #8, has been updated to reflect the updated way of thinking. SAFe principle #9 has been further developed and now describes better when and how decisions should be decentralized.

3. Roadmap

The New Roadmap

There are few major changes in SAFe 6.0. But the ones that have been made, are all the more important. Two important topics that you do have to know about, are Leading in the digital age and the Enhanced portfolio.

Leading in the digital age

Leaders are essential when it comes to making significant change happen. That is why they need to do more than just support the team. The right leadership in this digital age can really move teams forward and influence and motivate team members. Thatโ€™s why itโ€™s important that leaders are visible and part of all discussions from the beginning. After that, the next steps depend heavily on how the leader supports the organization and the complete transformation.

Enhanced portfolio

Large organizations often work with more than one Agile Release Train (ART). These companies work on their entire portfolio from the beginning. SAFe 6.0 emphasizes the importance of this point and that companies should take this into account.

4. Team Coach

Scrum Master to Team Coach role

In the new framework, the role of the Scrum Master also has been updated. In SAFe 6.0, the Scrum Master is more broadly defined and referred to as Team Coach (instead of Scrum Master). A fitting adjustment, since the methods, frameworks and practices of a Scrum Master are more than just Scrum. One of the main challenges of the Team Coach is to build transparency within the team and between the team members.

The Team Coach fulfills a number of essential activities, that includes improving team performance as well as improving the performance of the Agile Release Train (ART). In addition, the support of the Iteration executives and the support and measurement of the flow of value are also key tasks. A Team Coach can help by setting up a Kanban board to visualize flow and help everyone understand the workflow. The Team Coach can also help team members get tasks from 'to do' to 'done' by the use of tools such as Peer Reveal (and placing them in the Flow Matrix).

5. Patterns

Business and Technology Patterns

One major change in SAFe 6.0 is that SAFe is being implemented on an even ground throughout the organization. The reason is that successful SAFe transformations never only impact development. From Finance to HR to Security: all parts of the organization are affected during this time. By taking the experience of previous implementations into account, we can achieve success again.

In addition, SAFe 6.0 provides an introduction to Business and technology patterns. These include the following 5 models:

  1. Business-enabled ART - The collaboration of business and technology to address the same customer concerns.

  2. Agile Business Train - This is probably the biggest leap toward business agility. It includes one or more operational value streams, along with all ARTs and Solution Trains that have a shared vision and mission as their goal. This increases value because everyone within the operational value stream and ART can better collaborate and continuously improve the business solution.

  3. Agile Executive Team - It is important that C level executives also participate with teams. They have to become more part of the team and actively contribute to the implementation of the SAFe framework.

  4. Agile Business Function - Any function of the organization can harness the benefits of the visibility and transparency brought in by agility.

  5. Combined portfolio - A shared portfolio in which the value stream and its development are managed. By combining this input, decision making can be strengthened.

6. AI

Artificial Intelligence / Big Data / Cloud

There are three major shifts underway in the digital landscape that affect the way organizations operate. Of course we are talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and Cloud. SAFe 6.0 provides guidance to deal with these innovative technologies and strengthen the organization.

Application of Cloud & Big Data

There are many different strategies when it comes to the application of Cloud. SAFe 6.0 offers guidance on Cloud for Infrastructure, Operations Cloud for DevOps and Cloud for Artificial Intelligence. Each of these options combines Cloud within the framework of a SAFe organization. These include areas such as building smart customer solutions, improving customer insights and automating the value stream.

As far as Big Data is concerned, investment, vision and governance at the portfolio level. Lean Portfolio Management leaders can use the Lean budget to invest in Big Data and DataOps. With it, they can support Epics and the Portfolio Backlog and specify and prioritize technology, infrastructure and data.

7. OKRs

Growth measurement (with OKRs)

Aligning strategic intent with execution is essential for rapidly experimenting and drawing lessons from it. Setting up an experiment is complex, so it is always important to fully map the current state of the organization, along with the methods being used and how advanced they are.

With SAFe 6.0, the measurement system has evolved from cell-specific self-assessment to a more comprehensive system. This change results in better decision making and makes it clearer where areas for improvement are. A distinction is made between 3 different domains:

  • Outcomes: To what extent do we meet the expectations of our shareholders and customers?

  • Flow: Are we delivering in the most efficient way?

  • Competency: To what extent are we applying all the Lean and Agile methods that we know are critical to our business agility?

A final significant change concerns the results. In the past, KPIs were already a good measurement system. Now OKRs are being introduced, which help define the goal and also track progress towards it. The OKRs are applied within the Framework in 3 ways:

  1. Aligning Strategy and Execution

  2. In support of Lean Business Cases (Epics)

  3. Defining Transformation Goals

Our upcoming SAfe 6.0 Classes

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Leading SAFe (SA) - Virtual

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Mar 16

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Most asked questions about SAFe 6.0

How long are SAFe 5.1 trainings and exams still available for In Company trainings?

Based on the past updates done to SAFe, they will be available for about 1 year. But don't take it for granted and stay tunned for more info. Whenever it changes we will update you asap.

I am a SPC and I give Leading SAFe courses at my company to my colleagues. How do I receive the new courseware kit of 6.0?

You'll receive access to download the Courseware Kit immediately after purchasing your courseware license(s) for the new version.

Iโ€™m an SPC, does upgrading to SAFe 6.0 upgrade all of my active certifications?

Yes, you can upgrade to SAFe 6.0 at no cost by logging in to the SAFe Community Platform and navigating to the SAFe 6.0 Upgrade Learning Plan.
Once you complete the Learning Plan, you can take one upgrade exam to upgrade all your active SAFe 5 certifications to SAFe 6.0.

Are there any new certifications in SAFe 6.0?

There are currently no new certifications added. All existing courses will be updated to reflect the new content of SAFe 6.0.

Are there any certifications being discontinued in SAFe 6.0?

There are currently no new certifications added. All existing courses will be updated to reflect the new content of SAFe 6.0.

Is there any tooling changes required when we migrate to SAFe 6.0 (Jira, Azure Boards, Rally, VersionOne ..)

The backlog structure in SAFe is not changing. Neither will the mechanics of the kanban operations change. This means that the heart of the SAFe kanban flow will not require rethinking and thus no update to workflows in tooling should be needed.

I have a 5.1 certification. Can I upgrade it to the 6.0 version? What are the costs for that? And what is needed to do so? Do I need to follow another training in the new version?

You will have free attempt to take and pass the upgrade exam.

If an additional attempt is required, the standard exam retake fee will apply.

We are using SAFe 5.0 in our enterprise ? Is it mandatory to go to SAFe 6.0

Its not mandatory. Once SAFe 5.0 support is closed you will be forced to migrate to 6.0

How many free attempts are there in the upgrade path from SAFe 5.0 to SAFe 6.0?

Generally one, max 2

What questions do you have?