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Competing in the Age of Software with Enterprise Business Agility - take aways

Aktualizováno: 5. 8. 2021

European SAFe Summit, from 9-10 May The Hague, Netherlands was very inspiring session where I had chance to gain access to top SAFe experts, including the creator of SAFe, Dean Leffingwell, the entire team of SAFe Methodologists, SAFe Fellows, and SAFe Contributors from the community. During these two days of conference I heard about SAFe transformations directly from enterprises, who shared their SAFe journeys, best practices, and pitfalls to avoid.

More or less I was able to meet with other people working through real world implementations, identified opportunities for leveraging working relationships, and evaluate transformation or platform support companies that could help me with my practice of SAFe.

At the beginning I would like stress why I have chosen SAFe as my core of agile and why I am sure that most of my mates and followers will do same. Let's see following graphs:

SAFe at a Glance
SAFe at a Glance

Scaling Methods and Approaches
Scaling Methods and Approaches

Personal note: And please tell me, where are the methods and approaches that some Czech corporations, banks, pharma, telco, etc decided to use... ?

So I believe that common sense will send clear message and make difference.


Competing in the Age of Software with Enterprise Business Agility - take aways

Take away #01: there are two aspects that should be considered (for me at least when pointing change to executive management) - what business agility represents and what it requires from characteristic/aspects of organization:

  • Business agility represents an enterprises’ ability to rapidly and continuously respond to market changes and emerging business models.

  • business agility requires all aspects of the organization—leadership, sales, marketing, learning, operations, supply chain, manufacturing, finance, legal, people operations, and more—to become more Agile in their approach, and to work effectively with Agile technology development.

From a broader perspective, we have experienced four technological revolutions and the fifth is in progress (Age of Software and Digital). Where we are now? What is next?

Five technological revolutions
Five technological revolutions

This is interesting view: Installation Period -> Turning Point -> Deployment Period. I have never used before, but make sense.

Financial capital follows new production capital
Financial capital follows new production capital

What period are we in according to market leaders?

  • “BMW Group’s CEO expects that in their future more than half of its R&D staff will be software developers.” Kersten, Mik. Project to Product

  • Amazon and Whole Foods Merger to Introduce Cross-Platform Selling and Lower Prices (Forbes Aug 25, 2017)

  • The market cap of Tesla ($45.2B market cap, $21B revenue) now exceeds the market cap of Ford ($36.8B market cap, $160B revenue) 8:1 value ratio (Apr 2019)

  • “Apple launches Apple News+, an immersive magazine and news reading experience” (Apple) March 25, 2019

What is behind the current status of Age of Software?

Take Away #02: Dr. Mik Kersten reframed this as follows: the problem is not that organization not realizing that they need to transform but the problem is that organizations are using managerial frameworks and infrastructure models from past revolutions to manage their business in this one.

Solution could be in dual system

John. P. Kotter suggested that the solution is not to trash what we know and start over but instead to introduce a second system – one which would be familiar to most successful entrepreneurs. The new systems adds needed agility and speed while the old one, which keeps running, provides reliability and efficiency.

Achieving a state of enterprise business agility means that the entire organization— not just development—is able to continually and proactively deliver high-quality value faster than the competition.

  • It requires technical agility and a business-level commitment to product and value stream thinking.

  • And it requires the business, product, and engineering leadership to be able to work together effectively.

Personal Note: There is a big gap that has to be filled by coaching / mentoring /counseling. Rigid corporations even with their internal bunch of coaches have no chances to keep it and transform it. To reach such mental shift is not about directions but people that want to do change. And honestly who like changes? Corporations thinking in this mode: It is easy to change you, but they forget how hard it is to change ourself.

Business agility requires organizational agility
Business agility requires organizational agility

And this is what makes SAFe unique. Sometimes I call it, do not reinvent the wheel. Some organizations completely missed this point and tries to implement agility in areas with low value.

Organizing around value
Organizing around value

Start with small teams (Marketing, Sales, Support, … ) and then integrate to larger areas.

Take Away #03: This is what I have discovered on presentation, I have somehow missed it from my sight, so I am glad to see extension for agile in Marketing and HR.

Example: Agile Marketing Principles (proposed)

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of marketing that solves problems

  • We welcome and plan for change. We believe that our ability to quickly respond to change is a source of competitive advantage

  • Deliver marketing programs frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale

  • ....

Agile HR with SAFe

Some parts from document:

  1. Intrinsically motivated people are the real driving force behind Lean | Agile Enterprises. Their drive and desire to make a difference builds the foundation for the new talent contract. The ensuing power shift will give Agile people a voice in shaping the way their organization, leaders, and HR interacts with them – not only when it comes to career development, but across the whole HR value chain.

  2. Passionate and dedicated people are highly engaged; and engagement has never been more imperative to business success than in the knowledge economy that marks the digital age. Lean | Agile Enterprises understand the power of inspiring people and the abilities of collaborative empowered teams. They set the stage for their employees to thrive and continuously invest in the market value of their people

  3. Hiring in a Lean | Agile Enterprise is no longer about simply finding people with the right technical skills, but the ones who can match expertise with abilities to thrive in self-organizing responsive teams. Their Talent Acquisition is a team-based approach and a dedicated HR team not only support a hiring and on-boarding process in line with agile thinking, but also proactively connects with talented people long before a vacancy opens up.

  4. ….

Take Away #04: Business agility requires a continuous learning culture. This is crucial. There is no agile if continuous learning not working. But this is not a phrase for managers and HR... this has to be in organization culture... Fail is worth if I have learning from this. Where are sources for learning? Inspect & Adapt, Agile Retrospectives....


Interesting speech and provided information. Most of these are known. From different perspective it is interesting how some organizations quickly responded for last technological revolutions. The difference (TA#01) is based on continuously respond to market changes where concept of business agility is critical.

The idea in dual system (TA#02) is where we really live, but sometime it is hard to accept it.

There are some prepared and well defined areas for agile (TA#03), like Marketing or HR. Start with small teams (Marketing, Sales, Support, … ) and then integrate to larger areas.

Without continuous learning (TA#04) in organization there is no business agility.

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