SAFe's rise and fall: a history-informed prediction of its inevitable journey

SAFe’s rise and fall: a history-informed prediction of its inevitable journey

27 April, 2023 2 min read
Agile, consulting, organizational culture, process, hype

Opinion: SAFe will not go anywhere anytime soon. Those running it are very smart marketers. It will keep growing and embracing more and more stuff into version 7.0, 8.0, etc., until its monstrous complexity and cost cannot be ignored anymore.

It will then predictably collapse like a deflated souffle, like Six Sigma did in the last 10 years. And that’s when you’ll see many, many companies rapidly disavow it in favor of what comes next, i.e. yet another miracle cure that promises the world, and delivers nice theatrics in pretending to help companies “transform” their eggs into an omelette without breaking any shells.

Then, many professionals who currently adorn their headline with their credentials will remove them and deemphasize their association with SAFe from their CV, because it will by then seem like an outdated relic, and those still clinging to it will seem as quaint as those who nowadays still cling on to their Six Sigma belts: proud proclaimers of their association with a certification-mill scheme of the past.

Then you’ll start seeing HBR articles proclaiming SAFe dead, “where did it go wrong?” and so on, and the thing will get buried for good.

In other words, very similar to what happened to Business Process Reengineering, Six Sigma, World Class Manufacturing, Total Quality Management, Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Lean Management, etc.

SAFe is just the latest instance of Deft.

Lo and behold, SAFe is yet another “X” !

One funny observation from interacting with the SAFe clergy on LinkedIn is that they all react to criticism by implying that all of us who criticise SAFe must have some vested interest in doing so.

In reality, many of us who scorn SAFe have absolutely no monetary gain from bashing SAFe or any other Deft variant, but have merely experienced the regular waves of nonsense miracle cures, wishful thinking, and framework peddlers come and go through organizations we have worked in, regardless of their size.

And many of us have seen how distractive and destructive these waves of breathless hype and exaggeration and evangelizing about “transformation” can be to the business.

Such is life.

Link to the original LinkedIn post