Lean(ing) Towers: A Closer Look at the Foundation of the Scaled Agile Framework

SAFe’s foundation contains the supporting principles, values, mindset, implementation guidance and leadership roles needed to successfully deliver value at scale. – from What is SAFe?, © 2010-2017 Scaled Agile, Inc.

Why is a foundation important? As the underlying base of a residential or commercial building (or the bell tower of a famous Italian cathedral, more on that later), the foundation gives stability to the structure above it. The foundation, if it is solid and reliable, can also provide support as the structure over it grows and expands over time. In other words, to have a structure (or in this case, a framework) that scales, the structure itself should be undergirded by a foundation that is rock solid.

Let’s consider what happens to a building when the foundation isn’t that strong. What issues can affect the foundation? The foundation might not be complete — possibly a work in progress. Or the foundation may look structurally sound, but questionable materials and effort went into making the foundation. The very ground that the foundation rests on may be unstable. That’s not the fault of the foundation, but it does mean the foundation and the structure above it can be impacted by environmental factors. Even worse, the foundation may not even exist, but the structure above it is still in place and may even be expanding.

So the real question is, what happens when the foundation isn’t solid? This is what you get:


If the foundation isn’t solid, the structure that rests on it may be usable for some time. But after enough time passes, there’ll be a noticeable tilt. The leaning structure may attract visitors who will take funny photos and selfies. But mostly, the structure will become a highly visible example of how not to build or scale something on a potentially shaky foundation.

And that is precisely where the Scaled Agile Framework has its biggest opportunity and biggest challenge: its foundation.

Next, I’ll look at each element of the foundation to see how it all comes together – coming soon.

On A KickStarter Kick

KickStarter has been around for a while as an innovation driver and community builder. For me, it’s become a go-to source for finding niche products to meet my particular purchasing habits. When looking for something specific, I’ll do the usual Google key word search and check out Amazon, YouTube and other sites. This year, my hunt for specific products kept leading me to KickStarter. This probably happened because the products I was looking for hadn’t gone mass market yet, and were in early pre-production runs before going for a wider launch.

This year I supported two really cool products launched with KickStarter campaigns that more than exceeded their funding goals. They are highly original concepts that are flawlessly executed.

The first: APEX Wallet 2.0 – The Lifetime Guaranteed, RFID-Proof Wallet. I just received this a few weeks ago and this tiny wallet is sleek, indestructible, and lightweight. It also holds a lot more than what I expected.

The second: minijam studio – portable music machines. This is a cool set of electronic music products for dirt cheap. I plan to have impromptu jam sessions with my son with this pocket-size kit that generates a disgusting amount of heavy bass sounds.

Check out the Kickstarter site – no doubt that you’ll find a campaign you’ll want to support.