The Scaled Agile story

Back in 2010, did we know that the Scaled Agile Framework ® (SAFe®) would become the world’s leading framework for enterprise agility? Not at all. But we did know that when you put a great idea together with the right people, there is the potential for it to grow into something that can stretch the human imagination and make the world a better place.

It started with a book…

Several years ago Dean Leffingwell wrote Agile Software Requirements, the best-selling book that gave the world its first glimpse of what would eventually be known as SAFe. It described a framework—called the “Agile Enterprise Big Picture”—that visualized how to apply Lean and Agile practices and principles to the Team, Program, and Portfolio Levels.

The concepts behind the Big Picture drew from the knowledge pools of Lean, Kanban, Scrum, and Extreme Programming (XP), as well as Don Reinertsen’s The Principles of Product Development Flow. The distillation of these concepts into a single framework was applied in places like IBM, Discount Tire, John Deere, and Nokia with inspiring results. Inspiring enough to spur Dean to believe the time was right to prepare the ground for the Framework to be introduced to a larger audience.

SAFe finds a home and a community

The Big Picture was gearing up for its world debut, but it needed a few things to make it more accessible: a corporate home, a public knowledge base, and training solutions that would help teams and organizations adopt the new way of working—a mission and vision. And finally, a new name.

This is what Dean Leffingwell and Drew Jemilo—and a few souls brave enough to wade into the brainstorm—were challenged with. They needed to quickly piece together a business model that would support the evolving Framework—one they believed had the potential to change the way the largest enterprises in the world would develop software and deliver value.

In 2011, it all came together. Scaled Agile, Inc. was formed. The Big Picture was christened as the Scaled Agile Framework—SAFe for short. A training and certification program was launched with the help of a small group of forward-looking early adopters. And a website——was loaded up with guidance articles and content featuring version 1.0 of SAFe.

We were well on our way to fulfilling our mission to improve the lives of those building the world’s most important systems, and to improve business outcomes of the enterprises who build and depend on these systems.

Fast-forward to now

Today, SAFe is in its fifth iteration and has been adopted by more than 20,000 enterprises across the globe. More than 800,000 practitioners have been trained through a role-based curriculum that features multiple SAFe certifications, and there’s an annual SAFe Summit that thousands  trek to every year.

Because we can’t do this alone, we established a partner program, the Scaled Agile Partner Network. It represents more than 400 world-class transformation and platform companies who are in high demand as they help the world’s biggest brands adopt and implement the Framework.

And finally, because metrics are meaningful to our crowd, we’re proud to report that’s Annual State of Agile Report—the largest and longest-running Agile survey in the world—has placed SAFe as the most popular scaling method four years in a row.

We owe a huge thanks to our community for joining us on this awesome journey, and we hope that you’ll continue to be a part of our story as we grow and evolve the Framework for years to come.