SAFe 5.0 is out – is it a game changer?

The Scaled Agile Framework has about 30% market share of “named” frameworks, according to the 2019 VersionOne survey on the State of Agile. Given the marketing push around the update to 5.0 in January, it’s a fair guess that the SAFe will hold or gain share as the go-to framework when large organizations want to “go agile” beyond the team level.

Among “agilists,” SAFe is controversial for a variety of reasons, and is beyond the scope of this post – but with 5.0, SAFe may be pursuing a kind of “blue ocean strategy” to create distance from software-focused agile practices that extend out from team level agility, shifting the focus to organizational and business agility. SAFe already “wraps” Scrum and Kanban, in the sense that it doesn’t compete with these but leverages them for its program rhythms. Its emphasis on system thinking and addressing the upstream and downstream issues affecting agile teams may warrant consideration of the framework as a set of agile enablement practices which can be selectively applied, independent of the overall adoption brand affiliation.