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Program and PMO: SAFe Scales to the C Suite
Posted on Wednesday, November 06 @ 06:25:13 EST by webadmin

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San Diego, California. October 2, 2019. Global SAFe Summit

I sat anxious in the crowd of 2,100 people. The stage was empty and the lights were dimmed but I was in awe of the incredible investment in the video screens that spanned the entire front of the coliseum. They had to be 30 feet tall! The music system was cranked and I felt as if the concert was about to get started. It reminded me of that commercial from years ago; "Our rocskstars are not like your rockstars".


But I wasn't at this event for the hype of the "show". I was there to learn the latest incremental advances with respect to scaling agile. The intent is to share that information with the rest of my organization, so we can help our clients deliver value more quickly. I was also there and to share some of my learnings over the years with other attendees.


First up to speak was the CEO of Scaled Agile, Mr. Chris James. This guy is pretty cool. I don't recall a lot of what he said, but I captured some numbers. There were 570 companies represented at the event as well as 35 different countries. The company that I work for MI-GSO|PCUBED was one of 78 different partners who were in attendance. One additional stat to mention is that I am one of nearly 600 people around the world who hold the SPC [SAFe Program Consultant] certification.

The final statistic to mention is the fact that as of this article, ½ Million people have been trained on Scaled Agile Framework. That's a pretty impressive number!! Pictured below is Chris James, CEO of Scaled Agile.


The next speaker was Mr. Dean Leffingwell. He is the Co-founder of Scaled Agile and the Chief Methodologist.

I wasn't prepared for what came next; SAFe version 5.0. To give you a little background I have been working with SAFe, the Scaled Agile Framework since 2016. I have always found the framework valuable for helping align the various programs and teams that I work with towards a common goal. In that time, I have seen the framework get updated twice. But they were minor, incremental changes. Given my background in business management and portfolio management, I always felt that the Scaled Agile Framework was a little "soft" at the top. In other words lacking some processes and templates to truly guide and organization from the top down. But not anymore!


You will notice from the screenshot of the SAFe Big Picture for 5.0, there is now a blue band at the top for Business Agility. At this point, I sat up straight in my seat. Dean had my attention for sure! He went on to explain the number of many, and I mean MANY enhancements to the Big Picture.

Again, let me try to put this into perspective, if I held up the previous two versions of the SAFe Big Picture, you would be hard pressed to find the differences. But one glance in comparing this 5.0 version to its predecessor it would be easy to spot many variances.

I won't even begin to highlight some of the changes, there are just too many for this article. But what I will share is that this dawned on me; this picture has become rather complex to ME….someone who has been practicing and training on this topic for years. How on earth would a new user get their head around all of this? Or even worse yet, where do I begin in advising the next executive that SAFe really does work and will help their organization?


It was about this time in the presentation that it was revealed that a new tab had been added to the "Configurable" Big Picture. It is the 'Overview' tab:

This is it! A more simplistic view that shows at a high level how SAFe puts the customer in the center and the various benefits it offers at a high level. And just like the Big Picture view, this is not just an image. This page is interactive which allows the user to click on any icon to drill into more details.

At this point in time, SAFe 5.0 is still in Preview mode. However, anyone can access it from this link: https://v5preview.scaledagileframework.com/# I encourage you to click around and learn!!

It was stated that SAFe 5.0 will move to a "Production" state in January.

As I write this article, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised about this addition of Business Agility. One of the activities that all attendees completed at this SAFe Summit last year (2018) was create a backlog of features or enhancements that could be made to the framework. It was pretty unanimous that Business Agility was a gap. I tip my hat to Scaled Agile; they listened to their customers and responded. I look forward to leveraging some of these new tools found within the drawer of the Business Agility toolbox to assist executives in identifying THEIR customers, what products, services or features they need and how to quickly provide that value while at the same time helping them to build a learning organization that focuses on relentless improvement and an innovative culture.

SAFe has now scaled to the C Suite!

You may also find this article of value; What's New in SAFe 5.0

You may find this book helpful:

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