What’s New in SAFe 5.0

What are the most striking changes among the dozen changes in SAFe 5.0?

The new areas of Continuous Learning Culture, Design Thinking and Customer Centricity are the most significant to me.

Changes to the Scaled Agile Framework

For years, agile coaches have championed companies becoming learning organizations, and certainly, Scrum has enabled that via the Sprint Review and Retrospective’s inspect and adapt feedback loops on what we do and how we do it.  Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline has long been the primary reference work, and I recall reading it 10 years ago. Glad to see Senge’s principles of Shared Vision, Personal Mastery, Mental Models and Systems Thinking are featured only one level deep (as a Dimension of the Continuous Learning Culture Competency, per SAFe knowledge schema), just one click down from the SAFe Big Picture homepage.

The Five Practices of a Learning Organization

Design Thinking has been a valuable tool for many Product Owners, and we’ve seen that at clients as well. This is part of the reason we hosted a full-day workshop on Design Thinking. In our CSPO class, we regularly create personas, empathy maps, story maps and prototypes (of the student teams’ awesome Million Dollar Idea app). I’m glad that SAFe lists activities out as Design Thinking examples (although, I wish they listed Impact Mapping, as well). And it made me smile that one of the references on the SAFe Design Thinking pages was the book, User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton, a Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Trainer.

Last, Customer Centricity is described in the Scaled Agile Framework as “a mindset and way of doing business” that focusses on delighting customers. This is even more significant in that SAFe now puts the customer, literally, in the center of everything. In the current fast-paced, disruptive, fully-connected marketplace where customers can discover (and be discovered) in an instant, switch to your competitor easily, and be marketed to, and precision targetted, for almost nothing – Product Management can no longer afford to guess what the customer wants, respond slowly to changes, or execute poorly in quality, time to market, or predictability. There just isn’t time to recover like there was 10 or 20 years ago. The principle of Customer Centric has been a part of LeSS from the beginning, and how to do that was a shift for me years ago.

There are other changes to SAFe, but I reference these as the most significant. The other changes that were more re-organizing, re-labeling or just slight adjustments.

Note: In fairness to the mental workout of learning Systems Thinking, though, I would recommend Craig Larman’s Certified LeSS Practitioner. In that workshop, students learn and then apply Systems Thinking using causal loop diagrams for three days.

For more information on how Rocket Nine can help you use the Scaled Agile Framework, or if SAFe is a better framework for your company, culture and needs than other popular approaches such as Large Scale Scrum or Scrum at Scale, contact us below for a conversation with one of our agile coaches. 

For training in SAFe, we currently have SAFe training classes in Nashville.

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