Agility at scale is one of the crucial issues for large organizations. We interviewed four experts in order to put together an ebook, allowing to understand the contributions of agility at scale and SAFe. The following article is an extract of this ebook and allows us to understand the difference between lean and agility at scale.

Scaled Agile ebook

Alexandre Cuva coach agile
Alexandre CUVA, agile coach and manager of SoCraAgile

Agility at scale, an approach that adds in the human factor

A lean approach is a scientific approach that involves endeavoring to optimize an organization’s workflows. This might be done by adding or removing processes. With a scaled agile approach, we’re seeking to do the same thing while adding in the human factor.

With regard to the latter, we set to work on the relationship between the different parts of the same system. These parts are the members of a team, who are also members of a department and an organization. A scaled approach will in any case analyze value streams to understand the relationships between systems.

A SAFe framework, for example, is a hybrid between a lean and an agile approach, in the sense that the organization is lean and the operation is agile. All other currently available frameworks are agile approaches.

jean-claude delagrange coach agile
Jean-Claude DELAGRANGE, agile coach

In addition, lean thinking has fed into the agile approach and the two systems’ values are still very close to one another. The scaled agile methodology, however, has introduced rules and toolsets for aligning and synchronizing teams, as well as roles and responsibilities specific to it that are derived from Scrum in general and not defined in the lean framework.

Laurence Hanot coach agile
Laurence HANOT, agile coach at Zenika

Lean has fed into agile…

…both approaches incorporate a very strong human dimension. They are rooted in the same values, but their views of the enterprise and their principles and tools aren’t the same. Unfortunately, the defenders of these two approaches sometimes clash, each arguing that one or other of the two systems is better. From my point of view, they can be complementary. This is what SAFe tries to highlight, albeit not always in a very clear way. SAFe sometimes gives the impression of being a ragbag of every lean or agile approach that’s ever existed.


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