Nowadays, to compete in our increasingly customer-driven marketplace; companies need to become Agile. This is imperative for mastering the landscape of continuous change.
Back in 2001, the concept of ‘agile working‘ originated within the software development industry. Nowadays, it’s a core need for enterprises of all types.
Informal surveys found that Agile principles are usually successfully implemented within teams. But, their practices often conflict with how organizations run as a whole.
This disconnect between organizational procedure and a teams’ desire to use Agile strategies often stops this framework from unfolding its full potential.
This is where SAFe training comes into its own.
This helps to scale Agile in organizations by removing these tensions. The framework allows complex organizations to achieve the benefits of Agility across departments.
If you’re confused, don’t worry. We’re here to answer the question: What does scaling agile mean?
Let’s dive in!
What Is Agile?
The Agile Manifesto of 2001 first defined Agility in organizations as a way to uncover better ways of developing software. The idea behind the key processes was to value individuals over processes.
It suggests to place collaboration over negotiation, and working software over comprehensive documentation.
The manifesto poses questions that draw out the talents and skills of every employee. For instance, how can these skills deliver extraordinary value to customers?
While the manifesto didn’t provide immediate answers, Agile became a concept worth investigating. Initial experiments focused on single teams. Upon their success, large scale implementations were tested across sectors, including manufacturing.
Organizations like Riot Games and Spotify were born Agile, rapidly growing using Agile principles and values from the get-go.
In short, Agile is a mindset that revolutionizes how businesses work. It suggests dismantling the top-down bureaucratic approach organizations traditionally adopted. Instead, it favors new and evolving models that foster growth, learning, and innovation.
At the heart of the mindset is that each employee should be empowered to work to their full capacity. For this, they need the power to contribute autonomously.
Some of the principles that Agile supports are:
- Support interactive conversations rather than top-down directives
- Drop all processes that aren’t adding value to the ultimate customer
- Generate more value from less work by working smarter
- Continuously explore how to add more value to customers throughout the organization
These are just a few examples, but you get the idea!
What Does Scaling Agile Mean?
There are different aspects of scaling Agility within an organization. All hinge on the fact Agile principles should translate across the entire organization rather than just one team.
Scaling refers to the act of consolidating the same values across multiple sectors. This can mean taking Agility into other segments of an organization (Horizontal Scaling).
It can also refer to getting several teams working on the same platform to adopt the same processes. Here, scaling is about coordination across lots of different groups. This applies even when the individuals have different goals in mind.
The most significant resistance often occurs higher up the chain of command. Scaling Agility to management levels (and up) is formally known as ‘Vertical Scaling’.
Scaling Agile with SAFe
SAFe (scaled agile framework) is an interactive software framework. It allows you to apply Lean-Agile and Scrum practices in large organizations.
The full configuration consists of four levels. These address teams, programs, comprehensive solutions, and portfolios.
It encapsulates the seven core principles of Agility, including:
- Organizational Agility
- Continuous learning culture
- Lean portfolio management
- Lean-agile leadership
- Team and technical agility
- Agile product delivering
- Enterprise solution delivery
The goal is to create an enterprise-wide mindset of Lean Agility. This helps all segments respond quickly to threats and opportunities. Everyone in the organization is encouraged to learn and grow together.
Exploration and creativity become part of the company’s DNA. Leaders are empowered to inspire others by modeling the desired behaviors.
All these principles support a customer-centric approach. They always focus on adding value to the organization’s ultimate customer.
Other Ways to Utilize SAFe
At the portfolio level, leaders and executives decide the direction of the organization. This includes their values, business goals, and strategies. SAFe supports businesses in handling funding, product road mapping, and change management.
At the program and team level, SAFe is like Scrum. Under this framework, agile teams of ten members across five to ten teams work together on an assigned task.
The teams do so by using an incremental and iterative approach. Here time is divided into two-week sprints. This is part of the Agile Release Train (ART), which consists of five two-week sprints.
SAFe is highly prescriptive. It tells the organization what to do to adapt functioning processes with a lean approach. Online SAFe training courses are available. Organizations can seek certifications in this field.
There are expert consultants available to assist organizations with SAFe. The framework is easy to adopt, but to be effective, it needs integrating across the entirety of the business.
Is Your Organization Prepared to Scale Agile?
We hope you now know the answer to the question: What does scaling agile mean? To recap, it’s all about putting the customer at the center of your organizational processes.
This means taking a lean approach and cutting out everything that doesn’t add value to the customer.
Teams and individuals are empowered to use their unique skills and creativity to find solutions. This enables them to better respond to new opportunities and threats.
Top-down bureaucracy is dismantled in favor of a more interactive approach. This allows each employee to contribute their full potential.
Is your organization adopting Agile principles? Share your experience in the comments box below.