Skip to content

SAFe Lean-Agile Principles Have Arrived!

The impression that “our problems are different” is a common disease that afflicts management the world over. They are different, to be sure, but the principles that will help to improve the quality of product and service are universal in nature.                             —W. Edwards Deming

Why the Focus on Principles?

SAFe provides an integrated set of proven practices that enterprises rely on to improve their solution development capability. Implementation of these practices however, often requires tailoring to address the needs of a specific organization.  Should an enterprise use eight, ten or twelve week PIs? Should they have a System Team at the program or at the value stream level? Should DevOps functions be supported via a hybrid ART team or fully incorporated in each Agile team? What if you can’t integrate every day, or even every iteration? Should the trains be organized around capabilities or subsystems?

As a framework, SAFe can only take things so far, after that it’s up to the judgment of those doing the implementation. But how can SAFe provide guidance with this kind of decision-making? Answer: By clearly articulating the underlying principles that make SAFe safe.

To that end, we’ve developed nine principles that summarize the key tenets of Agile, Lean process and product development, Systems thinking and product development flow, as applied in the context of building large systems and solutions. These are the fundamental tenets, the basic truths and economic underpinnings that drive the roles and practices that make SAFe effective. Of course, you can’t possibly capture this complexity in only nine principles, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. To that end, we offer the following.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 4.39.03 PM
SAFe Lean-Agile Principles

These new principles can be accessed from the new Principles tab. Each is hyperlinked to a short article that describes the principle in further detail.

The Sources

These principles incorporate lessons learned from applying Agile, Lean and SAFe practices in the field for over a decade, in a hundred different contexts. We’ve observed, recorded, drafted, revised, incorporated feedback and tried again. It’s from this field experience that we’ve observed patterns that are effective in Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 4.46.22 PMenterprise after enterprise. Underlying these successful patterns are the principles that cause those patterns to be effective. In order to find them, you just have to dig a little further into the theory, abstract a bit, write them down, read them, and then listen to what they tell you.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 4.43.42 PM

They are also derived from the Agile body of knowledge—from the Agile Manifesto to the many books and methods, Scrum, XP, Kanban—and dozens of books by the Agile thought leaders we all know so well. And in order to scale, we take our inspiration from Lean Thinking, and writings on human potential and knowledge creation from seminal and ground breaking authors Deming, Drucker, Pink, Oosterwal, Ohno, Nonaka and Takeuchi, Ries, Kim, Reinertsen, Liker, Ward, Kennedy, and many more.  Some of these books represent a lifetime of learning condensed into a few hundred pages.

We are standing on the shoulders of giants. Let’s make sure we apply all that we have learned.

Back To Top