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Sue Laurent

SAFe 5.0 is Here: Our Initial Thoughts
Sue Laurent Principal Product Marketing Manager | October 22, 2019

By Enterprise Studio Certified SAFe® 4 Program Consultants (SPCs) Tony AkinsEdward Spotten, and Eric Nash, and Certified Agile Marketer Sue Laurent

After having a little time to digest what we learned at the 2019 Global SAFe Summit in San Diego earlier this month, we, members of the Digital Advisory and Consulting Services (DACS) team at Enterprise Studio by HCL Technologies, want to share our initial thoughts on the release of Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe) 5.0.

As you know, Scaled Agile is the leading framework for successfully scaling agile. As a Scaled Agile Gold Partner, Enterprise Studio is excited about the new changes being incorporated into the framework.

Since deep analysis requires time to dig in and understand, these highlights are just our initial impressions. Make sure to check back for our in-depth analysis as we roll out SAFe 5.0 for our customers.

Here are some updates we are excited about:

  1. Design thinking: Design Thinking is a welcome addition to the framework. After reviewing Scaled Agile’s article about design thinking, Tony mentioned, “I’m very glad to see references to my two favorite UI books, The Design of Everyday Things and About Face.”
  2. Business agility: The new 5.0 framework now incorporates teams outside of software, hardware, and firmware. It is exciting to see the inclusion of the marketing team into the framework in a more integrated way. Bringing agile to marketing teams has significant benefits and with frameworks like SAFe incorporating these business functions, the practice of agile beyond IT can be legitimized further.
  3. No more stretch objectives: As Eric points out, “Much to our collective relief, stretch objectives have been replaced with uncommitted objectives, which align better with PI Planning outcomes.”
  4. Refocusing on the customer: Edward said, “Agilists speak a lot about ‘customer first’, but as agile has advanced, we’ve slid towards adherence to the practice versus the outcome. SAFe 5.0 brings customers back into focus — exactly where they should be.”
  5. Organize around value: A welcome addition to the SAFe Lean Agile Principles is #10, “Organize Around Value”. As we move to full business agility, this principle will become more important, and be a welcome addition to the set of guiding principles.

An Update We Found Interesting

Innovation Riptides: This new concept was introduced in several sessions as part of the framework’s Continuous Learning Culture. We’re interested to see how this concept reveals itself in practice in the real world.

Innovation Riptides: a new concept introduced in several sessions as part of the framework’s Continuous Learning Culture.

Insights for Improvement 

Our SPC Tony Akins, while sharing an insight into what he thinks about agile transformations, said, “Something I never liked in the SAFe Continuous Learning Culture article is the concept of a ‘constant sense of danger’ as a driver of learning. To me, a constant sense of danger seems neither psychologically safe nor intellectually productive. I prefer a ‘constant sense of opportunity’. What a difference one word makes – it changes the whole approach from negative to positive. Most of what I've learned in my life has been from the positive experience of discovering and studying new opportunities versus the negative experience of being driven by a constant sense of danger.”

Overall, we’re all very excited to bring SAFe 5.0 to our customers and help them take advantage of the framework’s advancements. We will share more insights as we bring SAFe 5.0 into practice; so, stay tuned!

We’re all very excited to bring SAFe 5.0 to our customers and help them take advantage of the framework’s advancements.


The Digital Advisory and Consulting Services (DACS) team at Enterprise Studio by HCL Technologies is the global leader in collaborating, consulting, and coaching with enterprise-level companies to connect them to the promise of business agility — the ability to sense and respond to opportunities and challenges, and protect themselves from the volatility of doing business in the digital economy.

Additional Contributors 

Tony Akins, SPC 

Early in his career, Tony got to know what winning feels like. He was working on a great IBM® project with weekly iterations and demos, and the team finished a nine-month mainframe project in seven months. Tony has always acted as a coach — sometimes for the company where he worked and sometimes for clients. He knows that when you make small commitments, live with them, and create trust, you can do a lot of things well. A career highlight for Tony was helping a team put the fundamentals in place (after a terrible demo with an unhappy customer) and stun the customer with quality work and a quick turnaround.

Eric Nash, SPC, SDP 

Eric is a seasoned Lean and agile practitioner, coach, business analyst, and project manager. He has spent the last five years implementing and supporting agile practices and tools including SAFe, Scrum, Kanban, and the Rally Software platform, both as a customer and an agile coach and consultant for Enterprise Studio.

Edward Spotten, SPC 

As a police academy valedictorian graduate, Edward successfully worked in law enforcement for 7 years. Late in 2006, after being injured in Line of Duty as a law enforcement officer, he received the Purple Heart, and enrolled in and completed a BS Computer Science degree (an accelerated 2-year program) from Neumont University. Since then, he has filled various roles including Agile Coach/Scrum Master Consultant, TPO, Scrum Master, PO, BA, SDET, QA Manager, and Development Lead. Through his work experience, education, and many other life experiences, he has developed a passion for improving productivity, creating a healthy work environment, encouraging innovation, and promoting positive changes. His experience and passion for agile and use of Rally Software has led him to Enterprise Studio where he is now a full time transformation consultant.