What is new in SAFe 5.0

A summary and analysis of the SAFe 5.0 preview that was shown at the SAFe Summit in San Diego

This is a summary and analysis of the preview of version 5.0 of the framework SAFe, launched at the SAFe Summit in San Diego recently.

This blog post is the first in a three-part series of articles about SAFe, which I will publish during the coming three weeks. In the posts, I will outline the main differences in this version from the previous two, for then to proceed to a more in-depth analysis of what this means to the third version.

SAFe 5.0 preview

SAFe 5.0

Today, a preview of a potential new version of the framework is available published online. The intention is to receive feedback and to be able to adapt the ideas within 5.0, to that feedback.

The new version will officially launch in January 2020, and you can find the current preview here

A main outlining difference is that 5.0 has its focal point in the concept of Business Agility

Lean product development/ Agile/ SAFe are ideas that were born out of the need to build robust and sophisticated technology in an intelligent, flexible, and modern way. One of the biggest trends today is that business and technology are merging. Technology is no longer seen as only an enabling component, but instead, it is viewed as a crucial part of creating a business or assisting a customer.

The organizations that can create flexible and fast-moving business agility are those who apply an Agile and Lean mindset and method in the whole organization, to build innovative solutions that have the customer’s needs in focus.

In short, in the world of Scaled Agile, there are seven skills that an organization needs to acquire:

  • Lean and Agile leadership
  • A culture of organizational learning
  • Agile teams and technical agility
  • Agile product delivery
  • Delivery of solutions on a large scale (for large cyber-physical systems)
  • Lean portfolio management
  • Organizational agility

Several of these skills were also part of the previous version 4.6.

What is new in 5.0 can be summarized in 8 themes. Onwards, we will refer to themes in articles, recommendations, and courses within the framework. 

1. The need for an organizational culture that supports continuous learning

SAFe emphasizes that the agile teams, trains, and value streams we build, as well as the principles we apply, have to exist within a broader context, to create results. That context is the organization’s ability to create a continuous learning culture, which manifests in the way the organization is capable of generating insights and integrate new knowledge in products and services, but also in the people who create the culture.

The framework focuses on how to emphasize and enable organizational learning as an environment that will stimulate innovation and maintain a clear focus on continuous improvement.

SAFe 5.0 kultur av kontinuerligt lärande

Continous learning culture in SAFe 5.0

2. A focus on creating organizational flexibility and simplicity

The organizational agility is a skill for people and teams with a Lean and Agile mindset, which allows them to adapt and evolve their business processes and strategy. This enables them to make their organization available to meet new possibilities, customers, and business opportunities.

If we look a little closer, three points jump out:

  • A lean approach for our business processes, where we look at how to optimize the business flow that creates value for our customers through a Lean outlook and mindset.
  • Lean and Agile thinking teams and people, which implies that everyone involved, even outside of the system development, are willing to embrace a Lean and Agile outlook on how we together create value and help the customer.
  • Strategic flexibility: To build organizational skills so that you can be closely connected to your market, your customers, and quickly be able to change direction if needed.

Organizational Agility in SAFe 5.0 can be found here

3. An ability to create an agile product delivery and to apply a design mindset

One of the most significant changes and one that is easy to overlook is that a value stream is now even more interconnected, and that the levels “program” and “team,” now emerge into one. SAFe no longer has a level named “program,” and one called “team.” Instead, everything the agile teams do in DevOps and the continuous ability to deliver is summarized under “essential.” Together, they create the organizational skill “Agile product delivery.”

SAFe 5.0 Agil produktleverans

Read more about this concept here

Additionally, a whole new aspect in SAFe clearly emphasizes a design mindset as a key component to creating solutions with a strong customer focus:

SAFe 5.0 designtänkande

Design thinking can be found here

4. Better support for integrating agile business teams

An essential point in 5.0, and something that I personally have much experience with is agile business teams. In these teams, there are several skills that exceed the traditional skillsets for development, operation, and test. These additional skills are a part of the value stream or ART to create business utility.

SAFe 5.0 Agile Business Teams

Agile teams in SAFe 5.0 can be found here

What does version 5.0 imply for me?

So far, version 5.0 is only a preview — Scaled Agile intention is to launch the finished version in January 2020. They will offer frameworks and courses in SAFe 4.6 for another year onwards, and a free upgrade to 5.0 for those who wish to do so.

Next time, we will have a closer look at how SAFe 5.0 sees leadership at a deeper level, how to organize around value (a tenth principle will be introduced) and how the new self-assessment tool for Business Agility works.

Here is a link to the second blog post abour SAFe 5.0: What is new in SAFe 5.0 – Part 2

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