How to get buy-in and reach the SAFe Tipping Point quickly

Hi Agile Coaches and Leaders

Let’s talk about applying Scaled Agile… and specifically How to get executive buy-in and reach the SAFe Tipping Point quickly

There are cases where reaching the Tipping Point described in Scaled Agile Framework is difficult or more complicated than a “Burning Platform” or “Proactive Leadership”. These scenarios are especially common in larger organizations or where stakeholder motivations are diverse, even conflicting. In those more difficult scenarios, how can an Agile Coach or Leader get organizational buy-in and get to “Tipping Point” quickly?

This SUMMARY article will cover the problems, the insights, and recommended approaches related to this challenge.

Quick disclaimer! We are assuming you completed Scrum and SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) training. Knowledge presented here is mean to grow your existing Scaled Agile or SAFe practices.

Typical Problems

Let’s take a look at typical problems related to this big challenge:

  • You get mixed buy-in from different executives / stakeholders
  • Buy-in is limited to experiments, pilots, or only team-level implementation
  • People mis-interpret or mis-understand the reasons for adopting or scaling Agile
  • You are not experiencing the expected productivity, business value, and other gains

Unfortunate result is poor adoption and missed opportunity. Worse, stakeholder will begin to doubt benefits of Agile and withdraw their support.

Key Insights

Table 1.1 below shows top “Challenges Experienced Adopting and Scaling Agile” (2018). Please note that top three of these challenges all have to do people’s mindset.

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 9.17.33 PM

Table 1.1: Version One’s 12 Annual State of Agile: Challenges Experienced Adopting& Scaling Agile (2018)

Just information, like SAFe business benefits and Case Studies, are often insufficient to alter organizational culture or deeply ingrained believes.

This same pattern is also reflected in Kubler-Ross Change Curve commonly used to describe various stages of change adoption in people (Table 1.2 below). The initial stages of Shock, Denial, and Frustration are emotional not logical.


Table 1.2: Kubler-Ross Change Curve (Lean Change Management 2014)

Recommended Activities

Fortunately, there are a number of great transformational approaches and activities that can significantly accelerate buy-in and adoption. Here are key ones we would like to recommend:

  1. Discover the big WHY for SAFe adoption and key stakeholder pain-points FAST using 5-Why’s and Root-Cause Analysis exercise (corresponds to Creative alignment in Table 1.2)
  2. Make the big WHY real to the organization FAST through highly emotive, relevant, and compelling storytelling (corresponds to Maximize Communication in Table 1.2)
  3. Get lasting executive buy-in FAST through compelling Impact BVIR big visible information radiator (corresponds to Maximize Communication in Table 1.2)
  4. Get teams excited about the Vision FAST through creative ideation exercises like Design Sprints (corresponds to Spark Motivation in Table 1.2)
  5. Get broader organizational buy-in FAST through early enablement, education, empowerment, and exploration (corresponds to Develop Capability and Share Knowledge in Table 1.2)

Using research-proven accelerators such as these will allow you to accelerate adoption faster and with fewer obstacles.


Here is a convenient summary of recommendations discussed above

Keynote Video Summary - Agile Coach - How to get buy-in and reach Tipping Point quickly.001

Want to know more?

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