Ask Me Anything about SAFe 6.0 with Inbar Oren

Inbar Oren, Chief Product Officer, Scaled Agile Inc.
Aug 28, 2023

Pretty Agile was super excited to have Scaled Agile's Chief Product Officer, Inbar Oren, join the SAFe Australia Online Meetup for an Ask Me Anything session on the day of the SAFe 6.0 launch. Inbar started with a quick overview of the changes to SAFe, and then we opened the floor for questions.


Em Campbell-Pretty: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for joining the Australia SAFe Online Meetup, in partnership with SAFe Around the World and our good friends at Scaled Agile. I am super, super excited to have my good friend Inbar here with us this evening. It is not too early, I don't think, where he is. Is it 9:00 or 10:00ish am?

Inbar Oren 9:00 am

Em Campbell-Pretty: 9:00 am fine, easy. So some of you might've been up at five o'clock Melbourne time this morning. I was expecting to see Inbar live on stage, introducing fancy new things from the world of Scaled Agile. And Inbar was in a suit. He's not in a suit now, and it's all a little bit suspicious, really.
Anyway, at 5 o'clock Melbourne time this morning, as many of you are probably already aware, Scaled Agile announced SAFe 6.0. Just in case Hannah asks, Hannah works for marketing at Scaled Agile; it's very important that we say "SAFe 6.0" because in many accents, "SAFe 6" doesn't sound like "SAFe 6". So SAFe 6.0 team announced five o'clock this morning. And Inbar is (if you are not familiar with Inbar) the Chief Product Officer at Scaled Agile, Inc.

So a little bit of SAFe trivia. Those of you who have been in the classroom with me before know I love a bit of SAFe trivia, and I feel the need to share it with everybody. So today's 'SAFe Trivia' is: I met Inbar and Adrienne on the same day. Actually, no, I met Inbar the day before, but, you know, [the] same week, in Boulder, Colorado. It was September 2014, and Inbar had just become world famous for his SAFe in 7 minutes video. And I was there taking an SPCT class, and Inbar was there taking an SPCT class, and Adrienne was there taking an SPC class. And that's, gee, getting on to close to 10 years ago. Anyway, Inbar and I are still talking. Adrienne and I are still talking. I think it's going alright.

And so, on that note, I think Inbar over to you to share with the folks the big news that they probably slept through this morning. Then we'll do a bit of "Ask me Anything" about SAFe 6.0 and see what we can learn from Inbar while we have his attention.

Inbar Oren: Sure. 

So I got Adrienne to admit that I had the bigger impact on her life. So just saying…

Em Campbell-Pretty:  Wow.

Adrienne Wilson:  <laughter>

Em Campbell-Pretty:  Wow.

Inbar Oren:  Other people were there, so they'll attest that… I'm not lying. <laughter>

So, Hi, my name is Inbar. I'm from Israel. I've been with Scaled Agile for the last, I don't know, eight [or] nine years too long. I've been on the Framework Team, and I'm now the Chief Product Officer of the company and a Methodologist. For all of you who know, or some people who still remember, Drew, who was a co-founder of SAFe, he used to say that the difference between a Methodologist and a terrorist is that you can actually negotiate with a Terrorist. So, it is what it is.

So I'd like to share with you some things today around the announcement that we made yesterday. I'm going to try to keep my talking short and give you guys time to ask anything you want about that or about anything else. Again, I've been there for a while.

I can answer questions about things that we're doing, but also things about like 'why did it evolve this way?' And I'll try to answer as many of those as I can for you. So I live here in Israel. I have five kids. I do Martial Arts. I don't know anything else that's really super relevant right now. None of them are in the house right now, which means we might get some peace and quiet, but that's never a sure thing.

Let's get started. So when we're thinking of SAFe, I mean, historically, we've kind of looked at SAFe as just a kind of a framework, but our thinking on that has evolved, and we're now thinking of it as kind of a bigger thing. It's the world's most trusted system for Business Agility, which means there's a Framework there for sure, and we're going to start by talking about it, but it has other components. I'm going to talk later about SAFe Studio.  And there's a really important part of the partner that helps make SAFe real. I was chatting with Adrienne earlier and talking about the fact that we have two [Pretty Agile] people here who are probably teaching the first Leading SAFe 6.0 [class] in the world. Well, that won't be us… We won't be teaching it, probably ever. This all comes here. So the fact that we have people who are, are taking you through this is amazing. 

And then the community. I'm here to listen… and talk in this Meetup because I believe that having a passionate SAFe community is really important. I got pictures yesterday from our partner in Germany. They were sitting down to watch, it wasn't 5:00 AM for them, it was late night. So they were sitting to watch the launch, and they made their own beer bottles with a SAFe 6.0 label. At least two customers sent us "watch parties" that they were doing. One of them had a cake welcoming SAFe 6.0. So really, really cool. So that engaged community, I think, is such an important part of everything we do.

So what are we doing in 6.0? We introduced 5.0 in 2019. That seems like ages ago now. So much has happened. So many things have changed in the way we perceive communication. And the fact that Adrienne had to say let's turn cameras on because that's the closest thing we get to face-to-face right now. In 2019 none of us ever thought of that. I flew around and did meetups all around the world. I barely ever did one virtual. Things are changing; things are evolving. Things [which] impact so many things. I have had three conversations this week on AI and what are they doing. And are we going to have a virtual "Em" in a bit? Can you imagine that, Em? That's going to be.. 

Em Campbell-Pretty: That's a bad, bad idea.

Inbar Oren: I dunno. I think it's going[to be really interesting. I'm already working on that. So really thinking through what does it mean and how do we help people evolve with those new realities? So with that, we introduced SAFe 6.0, thinking of six themes to that.

SAFe 6.0 Themes

How do we create a better foundation for Business Agility? 

How do we help teams work better by empowering them and clarifying their responsibilities? 

I think maybe the most important one is around flow. How do we help people deliver value better, faster? 

How do we go beyond IT and work more across the business? 

AI, Big Data and Cloud. So thinking about technology and how does it relate to SAFe.

And then delivering better outcomes and measuring and growing with OKRs. So really thinking about how we focus on the outcomes of what we're creating. 

The New SAFe 6.0 Big Picture

So with that, we have a new big picture, SAFe 6.0. A lot of it's the same. A lot of it's different. Some of it's just rethinking colours, rethinking placement, [and] trying to make things easier to find—some of its completely new elements here. So I want to cover them briefly, talk about some of the other things, and then open the floor for you guys to ask whatever questions you want. 

1. Strengthing the Foundation for Business Agility

So first, around the foundation for Business Agility, a little bit after 5.0 with 5.1, we've kind of introduced the concept of the Business Agility Value Stream

The Business Agility Value Stream (BAVS) elevated to the top of the Big Picture

The list of steps that we're trying to have working really well in our company in order to achieve Business Agility.  From… sensing that an opportunity and something's happening in the market to I'm able to respond to it. We've elevated that to the top - talking about that as the goal. That's what we're trying to build here. We're trying to achieve Business Agility with SAFe.

Continutiuos Learning Culture added to the Foundation

At the bottom, we've made some interesting key changes. We've pulled Continuous Learning Culture into the foundation because we think it's really important for every organisation, even starting out, even doing Essential SAFe to think about, Continuous Learning Culture and, and what a learning culture means. And before that, in many of the configurations, it just wasn't in. And we think it's important enough. So we pulled that in there. 

A shift in focus for the Lean-Agile Mindest and a reimagining of the Core Values

We made some, I think, interesting changes to the Lean-Agile mindset, focusing more on lean principles, coming out of Womack's work, which caused us to reimagine a little bit the Core Values because some of the things that were in the now defunct SAFe House of Lean needed a place to live, like Respect for People and Culture and so. Because we needed a place for them, we moved them to the core values. 

Refactored Principle #6 to Make Value Flow without interruptions 

We even refactored the longest principle in the history of the world, principle number 6, which was the longest principle, and now is the shortest principle almost, which is funny because it created a kind of graphic look. So the thing here at the bottom was always kind of representing the shape of the principles as you're writing them up. And it was a nice shape because it was going out and then coming back down, and now it's going out, going back in, going back out, going back in because this, this one now, "making value flow without interruptions" is just shorter than it used to be. But we're also going deeper into that, and I'll talk a little bit about that when I talk about flow.

Removing ‘Program’ 

Another change that might impact some people in the room is we've gone away from the word ‘program’. This has been something that we've been working on honestly for three to four years, taking ‘program’ away more and more and more. We're done with this, with SAFe 6.0. There's no more ‘program’ anywhere, which means that SPC was left in a weird spot. And so we're just writing it as SPC, but if anybody really cares, the new acronym is SAFe Practice Consultant. So ‘program’ is gone. No more ‘program’.

2. Empowering Teams and Clarifying Responsibilities

The second thing we've done is really rethink the teams, or as some people internally call them now, the purple people, because the new graphics, they're purple. So really thinking through this, we've gone through every role on the Big Picture in creating the responsibility wheel. What does that role mean? And then relationship wheels… What's the relationship between a Product Manager and an Architect, the Product Manager and Business Owners, the Product Management and Product Owners? So really thinking through how do those roles work, creating more clarity through what is the role of everybody here. 

Scrum Master/Team Coach

And we even made, I don't know, I think, a more significant change, saying that it's not necessarily Scrum Master. With more people thinking business, with more people working Kanban with… different reactions to the specific words. We're now calling it Scrum Master/Team Coach, acknowledging the fact that some people are using the terminology Scrum Master, but some are using different terminologies right now. As well as talking about the importance of the coaching aspect of that role. So in that responsibility wheel, we've clearly called out some things that I think everyone in that role is doing around the world, like iteration planning or iteration reviews. But I think we've also called out specific things that we think are not as much done, like coaching, like helping flow evolve. So really calling out those responsibilities. So that was another important thing. Every role article was touched in this.

3. Accelerating Value Flow

And then flow. Aside from just changing one of the values to be “Make value flow without interruptions”, we've put a lot there around flow. Really rethinking the essence of what does it mean. We're now talking about the characteristics of flow and… where do we see flow usually stopping, as well as creating concrete guidance on every level of the framework. Team Flow, ART Flow, Solution Train Flow, and Portfolio Flow. Talking about how can we improve flow and, at that level, what are usually the problems that we see, and what are tools that we've seen really help guide these and drive it to more success. 

SAFe Scrum and SAFe Team  Kanban

We've rethought the SAFe Scrum article and the SAFe Team Kanban, really focusing more around the responsibilities and clarifying the importance of flow, both in Scrum and in Kanban, regardless of what you're doing and how you're combining them. So flow is really important. Those eight flow accelerators are, I think, instrumental in a lot of the really important new IP that we have in SAFe 6.0. 

4. Enhancing Business Agility with SAFe across the Business 

And then this one, it seems so small. It's kind of relegated to the bottom with a small red thing, but it's really interesting. I mean, with SAFe 5.0, we talked about Business Agility, but I think it's SAFe 6.0 that we're diving deeper and talking about patterns that we're seeing emerging in the market around how do people do it. 

Business-enabled ART

Whether it's patterns like business-enabled ART where it's mostly technology, but then we have business people serving on the ART as sometimes Product Managers or Business Owners. Whether it's a true business ART.  We're seeing more and more ARTs…  I was recently visiting in Europe, where I talked to a company that has every ART is it owns P&L. Every ART owns profit and loss completely end-to-end. They are a self-sufficient business unit. That's pretty incredible, in my view. 

Agile Business Function

Then patterns like an agile business function where we're seeing people in specific functions like marketing or sales or anywhere go to, how do we become more agile, not necessarily as part of a train, not necessarily as part of a thing, but how do we turn the function more agile.

Agile Executive Team

Even an agile executive team where we're seeing patterns of executive teams in companies changing the way that they're leading the team to run their team in a more agile fashion. 

So truly interesting things, including contributions from people around some articles in the way that they've seen Business Agility work in the space. And so right now, it's just here, but for us, it's a landing page that we're going to keep expounding on. So if there's a place where I would say keep your eyes on, because that's going to keep evolving over the next year as we create more and more content in this, this is one place where I would definitely keep my eyes on.

5. Building the Future with Al, Big Data and Cloud

Then we have “Building the future with AI, Big Data and Cloud”. This has a huge impact. Cloud, okay, maybe it's been with us a little longer, although some people are still just realising some of the effects of it. Big Data is making a huge change to our ability to drive decision-making, to make the right understanding as portfolio groups around what should we invest in and really becoming more data-driven in our decision-making. 

And then AI is super interesting. I'm sure, like if I did a survey, most everybody on the call has tried out at least running a question around ChatGTP. I have a thread going with my siblings where I'm sharing some things. Like, there was a thread online a while ago where somebody started with a very innocuous question to Bing and ended up being accused by the search engine of being a bad user. So I'm not sure where the technology is taking us, but it's really, really interesting and I think there's a lot of amazing possibilities. 

How do you build that into what you do? How do you think about it when you're thinking about designing your strategy? How do you think about it when you're building your code? Where do business Big Data teams and AI team[s] fit within an ART and within the construct of SAFe? So these are our first touches on this. We'll be expounding more on this, but we already wanted to get this out there. Acknowledging the fact that big data has an important impact on how we make decisions and AI is probably going to make an impact on almost every level of SAFe. 

6. Delivering Better Outcomes with Measure and Grow and OKRs

And then last but not least is “Delivering better outcomes and measuring grown OKRs.” We've already, with 5.1 rewritten our metrics article to be less of a hodgepodge of tonnes of metrics, to be more focused on three types of metrics: outcome metrics, competency metrics and flow metrics. And this is with flow again; we're investing so much more into flow right now. Not just with the metrics but specific things around how to improve flow with the accelerators. 

In this one, we also created more guidance around how do you focus on outcomes? How do you deliver big outcomes? How do you measure, and what should you measure? And then how can you use OKRs in the SAFe context for everything from defining an epic and thinking through the business case for it to really driving your transformation and creating the right outcomes for your transformation journey itself. So thinking through that as well as some caveat of places where we've seen some problems. So really going deep into these OKRs and Measure and Grow is another important refactor for this. 

Changes to SAFe Terminology 

During this, we've changed a lot of terminology, especially because we've gotten rid of ‘program’. So as you can see, all the program words are gone. So Program backlogs now an ART Backlog. Program Board is now an ART Planning Board, Program. Epic is now an ART Epic. So a lot of those are like simple changes that just make sense. 

Others are more subtle but really interesting. Instead of the APMO, we're now talking about a Value Management Office talking about the role of really delivering value. That's the point. It's not about delivering a program. It's not about delivering a project. It's about delivering value to customers and how we're thinking through this. 

Really creating some other clarities. The solution Arch/Eng was never an easy thing to pronounce or really understand. So we're simplifying it to a Solution Architect. The Solution PI Objectives clarifying these are Solution Train PI Objectives, Solution Train Kanban. 

So a lot of clarifications around terminology as well as smaller things that just occurred as we were talking about flow and other things like Daily Standup to a Team Sync, Scrum of Scrums to a Coach Sync, Scrum XP to SAFe Scrum. So really thinking about how we talk about Scrum in SAFe.

SAFe 6.0 Courses

And then tons of other things that are not just a framework itself, because as I was saying: it's a system for Business Agility

So we already have, now available, multiple courses ready for you guys to teach and consume, including Leading SAFe that has already been taught, SAFe for Teams, Implementing SAFe, Lean Portfolio Management, SAFe Scrum Master, SAFe POPM. And we're going to release many more in the upcoming few months. So those were already ready and are out right now.  We're working on them in priority order, both from a 'how much do people do them' and from a 'how much does it actually change with 6.0'. So some of them change a lot, some of them are not that much impacted. So we're deprioritizing those. 

Leading SAFe in 7 languages

And another reason was, and this was dear to my heart, I put a lot of effort into this that usually it would be like, let's just get Leading SAFe and implementing out, but not just Leading SAFe and Implementing, let's just get Leading SAFe in English. Now we've put a lot of effort into translating our courseware. So right now, today, when we announced it yesterday, it's already available Leading SAFe in seven languages across 6.0. And I think that's really important as you consider our global environment. So the fact that French doesn't say, oh yeah, it's available in English, we still have 5.1 in French, and we have to live with it for another, who knows how long. No, it's also available right now in Portuguese, in simplified Chinese, in French, in German, in Japanese, in Korean and in Spanish. So for me, this is part of what it means to be a good global citizen, or maybe because I don't live in the US, I put a lot of effort into making sure that comes day and date with the release. So I'm really happy with that. 

Also, the glossary of 6.0 on the framework website is all translated to all the languages, day and date, with everything ready.

SAFe 6.0 Upgrade

There's an upgrade out there, which some of you have taken a while ago, and some I understood woke up at, like, what 4:00 AM to take. I don't know – what was it... in order to teach today? 

It's available [at] It will be on the header at the top, telling you to go and take the upgrade. It's a set of videos looking through all the changes in a lot more detail than I'll probably have a chance to go into here. If you are an SPC, there's also a very short quiz just to make sure that you followed… before you get your SAFe 6.0 badge, which have all been... updated to be a new shape as we are wanting to do every time we switch a version. Really thinking through them and really looking, thinking through the validation, the knowledge needed to this.  Everything has been revamped. As you're finishing the upgrade, every badge you have right now will be automatically transported to this… If you have your SASM badge and you finish the upgrade, you'll automatically be upgraded to a SASM 6.0, everything else around this. They're all going to be immediately available for you. 

Updated SAFe 6.0 Materials

We've started updating. We haven't finished everything. We've updated all the framework articles, trainer guidance, [and] enablement videos for the [courses] we've released.  Explainer videos, facilitation guides, [and] toolkits, but there are so many of them we're still working through some. So there will be a portion of time where some of the toolkits, especially the lesser used ones, won't get updated. We're also using the time to clean up, find some things that less people are using and just get rid of them so that they don't drag us down in our ability to deliver faster as we're evolving the framework further. 

SAFe Studio

We've also announced SAFe Studio yesterday, which is… the next evolution of our platform. I'm really excited about where that's going to go. Right now, it's just the beginning. It's a nicer front page to the content that you're consuming as you're doing. But you're going to see over the next few months that it's actually going to bring everything into a single place. 

Right now, there's Collaborate, and there's the framework, and there's the Community, and it was all separate. We're bringing everything into one place where everything is just going to be more and more interrelated, where the Framework and the Practice and the Manage and the Learn and everything is just going to be in the same platform. We're going to integrate them more and more into each other, creating more tools and putting them in the right place. If I'm reading the PI planning article and I'm interested in the toolkit, it will just be there on the same page.  We have a lot of plans of how to create that into a more seamless experience that's going to give people the ability to do everything within a single place, find everything they need in a single place, and then creating more tools that's going to make 6.0 more useful. So that's me talking, and the rest of the time, is you talking or maybe me answering a little bit.

Q & A

Em Campbell-Pretty:  Thank you so much. We have a raft of questions. I have just taken myself back to the beginning of the chat, and I'm just going to throw questions at you and the team here will chime in and help me out as well, I'm sure. So the order in which they appear in the chat is unless it got answered by somebody else in the chat. 

ASE has disappeared from the implementation roadmap. How will ASE be positioned in the future? Will we not be able to hold ASE soon?

Inbar Oren: So ASE is not getting upgraded to 6.0. We like the content, but we're seeing that a lot of people have trouble with the delivery mechanism that we chose there. So we're going to take the content and package it in different ways that will allow you to use the specific things in workshops and other things you can be doing with your teams, but not as a course by itself. 

So the two courses that we won't be bringing forward to 6.0 at all are ASE and SGP (SAFe for Government). We won't be bringing those to 6.0. We'll take the material and package it in different ways, making it available for you, but we're end of lifeing them as courses.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Second, Implementation roadmap question. Why do Waterfall and ad hoc agile disappear from the Implementation roadmap?

Inbar Oren: Great question. So we see people coming into SAFe in many ways, and we thought that calling out this, those people, just those things. Well, there's only waterfall and ad hoc Agile, well, there's actually a lot of things people are doing. People are sometimes trying a different scaling method. People are sometimes trying their own scaling method. And so we didn't feel the need to specifically call out everything that people are doing before they're making the decision to go SAFe. We're, we're still referencing those and talking about it in the Go SAFe article and talking about it in the course, but we're not calling that out specifically as its own rubric because there are just so many patterns, and we would have to say so many things there. And we didn't want to.  Some people were taking ad hoc Agile as kind of a discouragement of what they were doing earlier, which wasn't our intention, so we just took it off. It's no disrespect. People are doing what they're doing right now, and they're making a decision to continue their journey with SAFe. And so what happened before, it could have been a lot of things.

Em Campbell-Pretty: When can we expect the SAFe 6.0 enablement for RTE and DevOps

Inbar Oren: We are going into our PI Planning (shockingly, we're working the same way as we're recommending everybody else work) in the next, about two weeks. I don't want to commit for the teams around things. RTE is the very next thing on our list, but I don't want to commit for the team exactly when it would be available. Tamara said yesterday Spring, so I'm going to trust her on that. But I don't like that term because Spring here is not the same time as Spring in Australia, so I don't know that it's really helpful for anyone.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Spring would be a very bad answer.

Inbar Oren: Really bad answer. So that was the answer that was given yesterday, so I'm going to say it's imminent that that course is probably one of the first ones coming. Next… that's all I can say at this point.

Em Campbell-Pretty:  Adrienne, I think you've got one there?

Adrienne Wilson: Yes. One from Dare: By removing Program, I assume the Program backlog is not integrated with Solution Train Backlog?

Inbar Oren: I don't know what that means by 'integrated'; they're still relevant to each other, where if you have a solution train, some of the work is probably flowing from the Solution Train backlog into the ART backlog. But at the same time, the idea of an ART is that it has enough autonomy to create its own backlog items. So they are related in the fact that some items are cascading from one to the other, but that's as much relation that there is. The concept didn't change with the renaming. We still have an ART backlog. We're just not calling it a Program Backlog anymore. We're just calling it an ART backlog.

The concept hasn't changed much, although we are acknowledging the fact that before, it used to be kind of a weird thing where there was a kanban system, and then the backlog was in the centre. And if you'll notice, and those are like more details, but if you'll notice some things around the big picture, I'll just find one of them. One of the things that has changed with SAFe 6.0 is that the backlog is now everything. There's a backlog, and it has many stages that we manage with a Kanban system across everything from an idea to an execution. But it's not that the backlog is just that stage in the middle; the entire thing is a backlog that we manage as a Kanban system. The state now that is there, it's just ready for execution, just a ready state. So that's a shift. But other than that, which I think is important, the relationships between the Solution Train backlog and ART backlog has not changed beyond that.

Adrienne Wilson: Thanks for that one. We've got one from Neil. For Large Solution pre-planning remains, yet the feedback loop at post-PI planning has gone. We emphasise PDCA cycles. So what is the rationale of no feedback, and how do we explain this?

Inbar Oren: So again, part of the way that we evolve SAFe is by looking at specific patterns in the field. One of the things that we've noticed is that Solution Trains are doing some pre-planning but are not actually running a specific event around post-planning. There's no – so if you're looking at an ART perspective, we have the loop [that] is planning and then demos. We're keeping that: that is super important. So there's continuous delivery, there's the demos at the solution demo at the Solution Train level. But we are seeing more and more just integrating it into PI planning, and there's guidance there on how to run PI planning as a Solution Train talking altogether rather than creating a separate thread where only a few people come to where we're doing a post-planning meeting. We are seeing more patterns around just doing PI planning for the Solution Train in parallel and then just having everybody involved in what they need to as the larger group that is actually planning. So that's just what we've seen more successful, and those articles go into further details around that.

Adrienne Wilson: Great. There was a question from Lim. What is the rationale behind removing the term ‘Program’ from the Framework? Did you cover that off earlier? I'm not sure.

Inbar Oren:  So I don't think I ever talked about the ‘why’ of it. Program was causing issues in many places where people were using that term to drive sometimes the wrong behaviour.  Especially by the way, in [the] US government, where we see people kind of staying with the program concepts to drive… I don't want to say anything specifically, but let's say legacy mindset and behaviours. And using some of those terms to rationalise why they should keep doing what they're doing. And so we've been gradually taking ‘program’ off. We didn't have a ‘program’ level as early as 5.0, and we've been gradually taking that word off. Now with a new major version, we've gotten to a point where we're clear enough that we can take it [out]. 

It's also, I think, in many ways, clarifies other things, like it's the ART backlog. It is truly the ART backlog; it's the ART planning board. Putting another word there for ‘program’. What's the difference between a program and an ART? A lot of the time created problems for a lot of people and drew wrong conclusions. Now, is that one hundred percent true? Of course not. There were places that didn't construe it in any wrong way, but we felt that it was creating enough damage that we wanted to do away with it. 

This is something that's historically been done a lot in the framework. I remember when we had a hardening iteration. The IP iteration used to be a HIP iteration, and people used to take it to [mean], I'm not going to test at all, and I'm gonna do all my testing in the last one. So we took that off because it was driving wrong behaviour. So we're always trying to monitor and walk a fine line between what is driving the right agile behaviour and what is causing people to think of bad things. The US government was an example of this, but we've seen it in other organisations as well, where people were just taking ‘program’ to help drive legacy behaviours. So we thought that clarification would make it easier.

Emma Sharrock: Thanks, Inbar. We've got a question about OKRs. So SAI talks about Castro's OKR work. This is from Neil Creasey, by the way. Castro explains OKRs as agile goals. Yet SAFe says that OKRs are optional, but goals are not. Given the linkage in the SAFe articles between OKRs and KPIs. Just interested to see why OKRs are optional.

Inbar Oren: So saying OKRs are not optional is saying we don't see any successful enterprises not using it. And yet that's not true. We're seeing people [be] successful without using OKRs. I think with 6.0 we're creating more guidance there, making [it] more clear about various ways to use them, making them more an obvious choice for various things and various constructs in SAFe. But I think we're not at a position yet of saying you cannot be successful if you're not using OKRs. We are recommending them. We think they're a very good way of capturing various things, like the way you're running your transformation or the way you're defining strategic themes. But I don't believe we're currently at a point where we're saying we have not seen people successful without them. 

As opposed to other patterns where, like having an Agile team, what if we don't have Agile teams? Well, we're not seeing people [be] successful without Agile teams doing Agile without Agile teams. So as we're looking through those patterns, it didn't yet get to that point where we're saying it just simply has to be. And yet this is a theme of 6.0, and we're putting a lot more effort into this, and you're going to see them in more courses. So we're moving to recognising their importance and recommending them more and being used in more things, but I don't think we're at a point where we're saying, you have got to do OKRs.

Emma Sharrock: Thanks.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Thanks Inbar. This one's a crack-up. What's the rationale behind the colour change from blue to kind of purple, although it looks green to me, but anyway…

Inbar Oren: The purple of the people looks green to you?

Em Campbell-Pretty: Well, it's green. The thing looked, oh seriously, Inbar…

Inbar Oren: Oh the teal…

Em Campbell-Pretty:

Anyway, this specific question was blue to (kind of) purple. I was just commenting that it all looked very green to me.

Inbar Oren: So, first of all, every time we open the Big Picture, we're doing a few things in order to make the graphics better. We're calling out to our designers to create new versions of it. We usually hold a kind of design sprint where we are letting them run wild and create their own BP (big picture). And we get wild ideas that half of them we just can't use. But sometimes, we'll pick something out of an idea. For 5.0, I think one of my favourites was a completely round, Big Picture. It was very different, very out there. We didn't end up using it, but we picked some elements out of that design to go with 5.0.  Here this was more about creating some more colour alignment and using more consistent colours together with the fact that we are focusing on creating some more brand colours and trying to bring those brand colours everywhere. So you can see that the presentations I'm using uses similar colours. So really trying to create more coherence in the colours so that the slides aren't one colour and the icons aren't completely different colours. So we're just trying to do that – that was the rationale behind there.

Em Campbell-Pretty: We have a newbie question. [For] organisations that have just started the SAFe journey with Leading SAFe. What's the impact of these changes?

Inbar Oren: So, on the one hand, I could say nothing because 5.1 is still available. If you are working in your own organisation, you can keep using 5.1 for a long time, probably around a year. And you can keep doing this. The old Big Picture is still available. If you go to SAFe 5 at Scaled Agile Framework, you can still find the old big picture with all the old articles. It's still available. We haven't taken it away because we know it's a journey. Having said that, I think there's a lot of important and interesting things in 6.0 that can help your organisation be successful. That might save you trouble, especially if you're just starting out with doing terminology changes from a program backlog to an ART backlog that might incentivise you to do it earlier rather than later.

We've also been running this kind of survey over the last few versions, trying to see how long it actually takes enterprises to move to a new version, like from 4.6 to 5.0. And we had 4.6 available for a little over a year after 5.0 came out, and we were seeing, we were expecting to see kind of like nobody in the beginning and then slightly going up and then slightly going down, but kind of a little bit flat, and then, of course, more down at the end. But what we actually saw was people shifting a lot faster than we thought. Actually, I would say that about 70 to 80% of organisations were working on a new version within three to six months. So I believe that there's a lot of value to switching, but if right now, as you're looking at some of the things that I talked to right about 6.0, you're like, you know what, that's not our biggest problem right now. We just train everybody in 5.1. Consistency in helping everybody be more online matters more. I would say stay on 5.1, keep training them, keep working with 5.1, and then transition them in six months when you think it's more appropriate. If, however, you're starting a new business unit that is not currently involved in this, I would highly encourage you to think of using 6.0 there, just to save them the shift later, which will come at some point.

Adrienne Wilson: Inbar, I've got one from Varun; he says, Could I please know the role of big data as a new component introduction at the LPM SAFe level? What impact and contributions do you see in it improving the portfolio flow?

Inbar Oren: Let me see if I have a backup slide on that just so that I can show some visuals, and it's not all the same static image. Okay, I do have, but of course, it won't show it…

So the big data article, and again, this is the first foray into this, was thinking about the roles and practises that we need in order to understand, normalise, and think about large data sets and how to make them useful for stakeholders so that they can achieve this agility. And we're seeing this as something that is important everywhere. The reason we put it on the portfolio level was because we think its impact on influencing business decisions, making product choices around what should we build, making business decisions around what should we invest in, is probably the most crucial part of it. The article also talks about how do you put data teams on an ART and that it doesn't go away from this. But we had to choose.

There was a point in time where we were like, okay, let's put all three of them on the spanning palette. Let's put Cloud, Big Data and AI on the spanning palette. It was also suboptimal. So we had to make a choice. We decided to put AI on the spanning palette saying this one affects all levels, putting big data on the portfolio level, not because it doesn't have any impact, but because of its important impact that we think something gets overlooked. People are thinking about data on the teams. They're collecting data, but they're not actually changing the LPM processes enough to reflect and invest as needed in the data. And then when they need to make decisions on build versus buy investment choices, it's kind of a gut feeling decision rather than really being a data-driven decision. So we decided to really call out that part. 

It impacts a lot of things.  It also interacts with AI and it impacts on ML [machine learning] where we have thoughts of the DataOps process and how it helps really gather [data] and how do you apply DataOps and SAFe. So there's more in that article than just those components around strategy. But having to choose where to put it, portfolio just seemed the most important and impactful place from the investment it requires, the focus it requires from an organisation to say, we're actually becoming more data-driven, which is a big investment. Its ability to really change our ability to become more agile in our decisions and our ability to react to changes in the market.

Claire Sanders: Fantastic, thank you. Inbar. We've got a related question from Nicholas Davis. Previous versions of SAFe seem to be technology-agnostic. Now we have AI, Big Data and Cloud. You mentioned this drives decision-making, and I think you just talked to that in response to the previous question. But the follow-up question is, are there other technology considerations?

Inbar Oren: So there are. And again, this is a fine line because, on the one hand, we are trying to be technology agnostic, and we're trying to be also going beyond technology and thinking through the business and how it works. But at the same time, we do acknowledge the fact that there are some things that we think our organisations are not taking into account enough about their ability to impact Business Agility and their ability to be successful. We think Big Data and AI are two such examples of the way that they're fundamentally changing a company's ability to achieve Business Agility. There might be others, and as they emerge, we might add more, more there around that. These are the ones we felt almost compelled to call out in this release because we think that companies who won't… put their focus on AI and understand how to tie that into their product choices won't focus on data, on collecting it and managing it and normalising it and thinking through it and understanding how it affects their decision making seriously will not be able to achieve Business Agility. 

Even if you're, you're not really thinking of technology …I have a business function that's doing marketing and SAFe. Still, the impact of AI and Big Data on marketing is huge. So we're just seeing that not necessarily as technology per se, of how do we develop Big Data and how do we develop, and that's also part of the reason why they're not necessarily just tucked into the teams, but how do those specific technologies impact and change our decision making and change the entire way that we're running our business to achieve Business Agility? We just think that they have a bigger impact on the Business Agility story as a whole.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Thank you. Inbar, do you have a hard stop, or are you able to hang with us for a little bit longer?

Inbar Oren: I'm fine. I don't have a hard stop.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Okay

Inbar Oren: It's early; the kids are in school. Nobody cares what I'm doing. <laughter>

Em Campbell-Pretty: Okay.

Inbar Oren: I'm supposed to be, I'm supposed to be upstairs cleaning stuff with my wife, so I'm like…

Em Campbell-Pretty: Oh, okay. You'll be here for a while.

Inbar Oren: I can hang for as long as you want.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Oh my goodness. Let's see - John says organisations select core products, SAP, ServiceNow, Microsoft, etc. How does SAFe make it easier from a value perspective?

Inbar Oren: To implement those products or to make those choices?

Em Campbell-Pretty:  I don't know, John? Help me, John! To work with those products.

Inbar Oren: Okay. So I think they're slightly different because of the way that they're being implemented. We have a lot of customers who are… using SAFe to implement, for example, SAP, and other ERP products. We even have an advanced guidance article written by one of our SAFe Fellows, Malte, around experiences around how to specifically do SAP implementations and patterns that he has seen around driving successful implementation of these. 

I think part of the thing that SAFe enables organisations to do is ask hard questions as you're starting a lean business case around why are we doing it? And then ask hard questions as you're looking at flow about what are we trying to achieve? So why are we implementing SAP? Why are we implementing ServiceNow? What are we expecting for it to solve for us? And then really thinking through both value delivery and then flow metrics, outcome metrics and, and asking yourselves what do we expect to accomplish with that? And then using that to justify, but also to prove out later, are we actually getting what we wanted out of it? So we think that if we are going to have SAP, we're going to simplify some of our processes and make things better, but we've actually just implemented SAP over the existing business processes without simplifying the business processes, without rethinking the business processes, we might end up… exactly where we were before, just on a different system. 

So I think that the language and terminology that SAFe brings around outcomes and flow helps organisations create business cases that are more customer-centric and focused on why we are doing a change. And then helping them create that change incrementally so that we can see that it's actually working delivering [that] value, and then eventually going back and closing the loop and asking ourselves, did we actually deliver that value? So we thought we're gonna do that. We just spent five years implementing an ERP solution. Did we actually achieve the results we wanted? Not have we implemented ERP. Which of course, I'm guessing the answer is yes, but have we actually improved flow? Have we improved customer centricity? Have we reduced customer issues? Are we responding faster to customers? Is our NPS score going up? So I think that customer-centric focus of really asking yourself with everything you're doing, why you're doing it in the beginning, and then asking yourself, have I actually done it?

Which, I'll be honest here, this is one of the biggest problems that I see in many organisations around the world. Even if they're asking the question in the beginning, they are not coming back to it after the fact to ask the hard question. Have we actually achieved that goal? Because it sometimes reflects poorly on people. Oh - actually, we didn't; we just invested $5 billion in building something that left it worse off than we were before. But I think that misses the whole point and says a lot about the culture of the companies. That the fear that is inducing people on, exposing that work that we've just done isn't creating the benefits, is overriding them from the ability to actually discuss this in open and make better decisions in the future. And so I think that's a lot of what SAFe brings into the matter, not just the how do you execute. Again, although we have advanced topic articles around how to implement SAP, how to do things. Really asking yourself, what am I trying to achieve with this? And this could be ServiceNow; this could be an ALM tool. This could be anything asking yourself, did we actually achieve the goals we wanted with it?

Nicholene Africa:  Awesome. Thanks Inbar. We have a question from Sunil. We are seeing a lot around DevSecOps. In 6.0 any sections where we are emphasizing more towards Security?

Inbar Oren: Okay, security. So, this is actually work that we've already begun with SAFe 5.1, where inside this DevOps circle that has been around since 4.5, we've added the Sec issue here, really going deeper in the guidance around what are the considerations that we see around security. Also in the built-in quality article going deep and talking about the specific things around, InfoSec and the importance of security and how do you integrate those. So we've taken another step in that direction. But while saying that, I will say that unlike 5.1 where DevSecOps was one of the important focuses for us, with 6.0, we're focusing on other things and just continue to evolve DevSecOps guidance a little bit. This was not a focus of 6.0 by itself, just more of a clarifying thing that came from 5.1.

Emma Sharrock: Thanks Inbar. I've got another question from Sammy. So is there a cadence of releasing versions of SAFe? So a new version every year, or is the release as and when deemed necessary? In other words, when can we expect SAFe 7.0 is what we're really asking for here? <laugh>.

Inbar Oren: So, on the one hand, I want to say there isn't any because we've released a 4.0, then we released a 4.5, then we released a 4.6, then we released a 5.0, 5.1 and 6.0. So there wasn't a 6.2 or a 6.5 or 6.7 or anything like that. So it's easy to say there isn't necessarily a hard cadence, but I will say that usually, after about 18 months is where we're seeing enough patterns to create probably a minor version of SAFe. And every about three years is where we're seeing enough out there to create a major version of SAFe.

So if I'm thinking back, and I could be wrong, but I think 5.0 definitely came out October of 2019, [whereas] 4.0, I believe, was right at the beginning of 2016. So it's, again, since it was the beginning of 2016, this was three years and a bit, this was also three years a bit. So it's about three and a half years. But it's not because we're looking for a cadence. We're like, we need a new version of SAFe every three years. It's, is there enough that has changed that warrants both creating something that fundamentally changes and saying, look, people probably haven't kept up, and I'm not saying anything about the people in this call specifically, but yesterday when we were doing our, our launch event, people were asking, how do I upgrade from 4.5 to 6.0? 

So part of the reason we're doing a major version is because we're seeing people just not necessarily keep track of the minor revisions. Because they don't have to come, they don't have to do an upgrade; they don't have to re-certify. So they got certified in 4.0, then 4.5 came out, then 4.6 came out. They're like, yeah, okay, now 5.0 came out. They have to keep track. So it's a when have we accumulated enough things that we want the communities to say, if you've been certified on that thing in the past, it's different enough that we need you to go back and relearn something. And so this dictated more, and the things we're seeing in the market dictated more than a clear cadence, as it really shifts with the needs… of the research we're doing.

Emma Sharrock: Great. Not a Moore's Law type situation or anything we can expect. Well, you never know.

Inbar Oren: No. So I think that you can expect, and we're doing some work on our own internal processes to enable us to make more updates to the framework between releases. So, for example, I was giving the example of the “Enhancing Business Agility”. We've created this as a surface that allows us to extend the guidance around Business Agility without changing the Big Picture. We've created these flow places so we can create more guidance around flow without changing the Big Picture and creating a new version. So I think, in a way, we are trying to get to a point where we're releasing value more often and creating subtle changes, but not necessarily what… requires us to change a Big Picture, create a terminology, update people, but really do release more often. 

So if I'm looking back into the past, we would hold onto content more between releases than we are doing right now. If everybody's been keeping up, flow has already been available since the summer. AI, Big Data, and Cloud articles have been released for a while. So we are releasing that content more and more on, on things. So I think we might be thinking of how do we do it more in the flow of work rather than creating those kinds of big releases. But I don't know. Those are just my thinking around this.

Emma Sharrock: Nice. Thank you.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Inbar, going back to the SAFe for Government conversation. Where is that content going? If you are not taking SAFe for Government to 6.0, where will we see it again in the future?

Inbar Oren: So this is just something, again, it's no longer here on the implementation roadmap… We won't be taking the course to 6.0. And we are, we have a new, which I'm really excited about, chief Customer learning officer, Daniel Quick, and one of his things that he's working on is what's the right thing on the right mechanism to get that content in the hands of people? Is it a workshop? Is it an e-learning? Is it an online learning? What's the right way to get it? And then, we will take the content because we have it, repackage it there and make it available. But we've been so focused on getting the courses out. Right now, if I'm looking at the two questions we're asking you, when do I get RTE 6.0, and when do I get the rest of the SGP material? RTE will come first. 

So we just need to do some prioritisation, but it is top of mind for us around how do we get… that material in SAFe for government and in ASE, by the way, so that people have the content, have the ability to use it, but without it being necessarily a course with cert. Our conversation, we've done a lot of interviews around it with customers, have led us to believe that they're not finding that offering as compelling and as useful, and they would rather have the content in a different thing. For example, as a “let's run a Leading SAFe class and do a half-day workshop” around it would be more useful for them. So we're still kind of at the tail end of some of that research to understand… what's the right way to package it and leaning on Daniel and his team to figure that out. So I don't know yet exactly how that content will surface.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Thanks Inbar. I think we have drained the question pool, and you have been incredibly generous with your time. Thank you so much.

Thank you for the many folks who turned up today to ask Inbar the hard questions. There's been lots of really positive commentary in the chat Inbar about how great this session has been and how much people have appreciated your answers, and the clarity that you've brought to 6.0. So, given we are…

Inbar Oren: Go and take the upgrade, go and take the upgrade, and you'll get a lot more…

Em Campbell-Pretty: Right. Apparently, this is a trade system. You get a talk from Inbar, and now you have to go take the upgrade, and he'll be taking names and checking that off for you later. Oh, my goodness. How do we take the upgrade? Is the question?

Inbar Oren: Go to Log in, and it will be right there at the top of your banner in the new SAFe Studio.

Em Campbell-Pretty: There you go.

Adrienne Wilson: You can't miss it.

Inbar Oren: Well, I'm not, I don't know. The ability of people to miss things is their own thing, but it's really right there at the top of the screen.

Adrienne Wilson: Exactly.

Inbar Oren: Upgrade to 6.0!

Em Campbell-Pretty: Yeah. Oh, look at that. You should really upgrade, Inbar.

Inbar Oren: But then I wouldn't be able to test, but then I wouldn't be able to test the final thing that is actually showing up where I want it. So I went into the backend and changed it, so I didn't finish the upgrade, so now I have to go and do it again.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Oh my goodness. I'm like, you were at the masterclass. I saw you.

Inbar Oren: That's true, and I did the upgrades before that, but then I had it reset, and some things have changed, so now I need to go and do it again.

Em Campbell-Pretty: Alright. You did sound like you knew some stuff about SAFe 6.0. So we're, we're going to take your word for it that you are appropriately qualified. Thanks again, Inbar. Thank you again to everybody else for coming along. We will no doubt see you again in a few weeks when we find some other willing person to come and chat to a few folks about something SAFe-related. Have a good evening team.

Inbar Oren: Thank you, everyone.

Adrienne Wilson: Thanks Inbar. Thanks, everybody.

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