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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Jan 17, 2020

On today’s podcast, Dan Neumann is joined once again by Christy Erbeck! Christy is a principal transformation consultant at AgileThought and a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator. She has over 25 years of experience in domestic and international consulting, training and coaching, and working in both software development and non-product-focused environments, including manufacturing (discrete and process), distribution, and sales and marketing.


On top of all of Christy’s licenses and titles, she is also a Certified SAFe® Program Consultant — which is also the topic of today’s show! There are a lot of horror stories around SAFe implementations because, in many cases, the original intent has been corrupted. So in this episode, Christy is breaking the SAFe framework down for listeners. She’s busting the myths that have given SAFe a bad rap and then providing her tips for a successful and effective implementation of SAFe!


Key Takeaways

What is SAFe?

SAFe is a framework for predictability at scale

Empowers complex organizations to achieve the benefits of Lean-Agile software and systems development at scale

Christy busts some myths regarding the SAFe:

“Waterfall disguised as Agility” — not true; it is a framework with elasticity in how it can be implemented

“It’s very prescriptive” — though there is an overarching framework and path that is laid out, the fundamental mindset underneath it is Agility

“SAFe stops at training the leaders about velocity” — untrue! Just train the leaders and just get started

“You can just put aside vulnerability” — you cannot, so instead get in front of it and break down the walls by discussing the discomfort and change that comes with implementation

“SAFe always goes wrong and completely goes against an Agile mindset” — SAFe as a framework does not do this; it’s perpetrated by the consultants and the organizations that don’t fully commit to implementing it

How to ensure your SAFe implementation is effective and successful:

Start small and ‘nail it before you scale it’

Start with training your leaders and give them a compelling ‘why’

Create a Lean-Agile center of excellence where you can bring everyone together to help identify the system-level items and issues that are going to need to be addressed as you all move through the implementation roadmap

As a manager, reject bad plans (this is very beneficial towards getting more predictable deliveries)

Implement the events within SAFe well (and safely) so that your organization can be set up for success

Understand Lean thinking

Establish safety within the team and the organization to build trust

Stay nimble

Listen to what the client needs, not what you think they need


Mentioned in this Episode:

Christy Erbeck’s LinkedIn

Scaled Agile Framework

Certified SAFe® Program Consultant

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 1: “Do Scrum Well Before Scaling!”

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 22: “The Role of Managers in Agile Organizations with Esther Derby”

Brené Brown

Brené Brown — Dare to Lead

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek

Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons, by Bryon Powell

How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business, by Douglas W. Hubbard


Christy Erbeck’s Book Pick:

Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do, by Jordan Raynor


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