How Do SAFe Principles Boost the Productivity of Our Team by Establishing the Lean-Agile Mindset in the Company?

Date: February 17, 2020 Author: Vesna Plakalović

Recently, technological progress can be felt in all spheres of our lives. Very often, we do not even pay minor attention to how quickly we are getting attached to technology, performing the majority of our everyday activities through different digital tools, from ordering food via food delivery apps to paying electricity bills over m-banking. The digital revolution has already started, and the main responsibility for this innovative movement belongs to the international tech companies which are tasked to create a better future for all of us. 

What we often oversee is that digitization not only covers the creation of technological solutions, but closes the whole circle, from market analysis and identification of market needs to the final solution, its design, and production. Even though artificial intelligence is slowly conquering the world, it is the human mind that drives the whole technological revolution, from idea to realization. Therefore, the main focus is on people,  the professionals from whom the technology firms and technological progress actually depend. Therefore, it is important to create a strong organization within every company that helps all its employees reach their full potential through a positive working atmosphere, respect, motivation and education opportunities.

In this manner,  Agile development involves the organized collaboration of all participants in the development of the system and supports fast and efficient decision making. It promotes adaptive planning, development in time-limited iterations, encouraging rapid and flexible response to change and constant feedback from all development actors through frequent inspect-and-adapt activities. 

The SAFe framework stands out from all agile frameworks because it is a perfect fit for large teams and applicable to the development of big technology solutions. The SAFe is principally based on the rules and practices used in Lean and Agile methodologies and relies on Lean-Agile leadership that promotes advancing and applying Lean-Agile leadership skills that drive and sustain organizational change by empowering individuals and teams to reach their highest potential. In order to fulfill its aim, Lean-Agile companies are required to spread and sustain the Lean-Agile mindset among all its employees.

The major objective of Lean is to provide the greatest client satisfaction in the shortest time possible. High morale, security, and client delight are extra objectives and advantages. Respect for all employees and culture is a fundamental human need. At the point when approached with respect, employees are more engaged to advance their practices and improve their overall performance. The main impetus behind this new behavior is a generative culture, which is portrayed by a positive, safe, performance-driven environment. The principles of flow, waste cut and innovation are an essential part of the Lean-Agile mindset. Activities like defining a full Value Stream, visualizing and limiting Work in Process (WIP), and reducing batch sizes are of crucial importance for development, but without innovation, both product and process will steadily decline. That is why at Walter Code, we focus on the following: 

  1. INNOVATION – We encourage creative ideas through education and flat organization, which allows all team members to come up with their suggestions, in order to find optimal solutions that will meet the needs of our clients as well as the needs of our employees. For this reason, we have established Walter Academy that fosters our technological progress and helps us build some innovative skills that are in high demand on the international market.
  2. ITERATION – Thanks to the iterative development, SAFe enables the project team to quickly eliminate unexpected problems, reduce stress and achieve a healthy working culture in which all members are prone to teamwork, understand the whole business context, share a common vision and build smarter digital solutions together.
  3. KNOWLEDGE – All agile processes like Iteration Reviews and Iteration Retrospectives are principally related to inspecting and adapting. These are the phases when our developers are learning the most about the technology and software solution they are working on. Finally, it is an excellent opportunity to find out more about what went wrong and should not be repeated, what went well and should be rewarded, and what can be done better in the future.
  4. RESPECT– Our approach to our people is founded on Lean-Agile leadership and does not imply employee ratings, but a culture that focuses on open conversations and mutual respect between developers and their managers. Also, this approach entails rewards and recognition of over-performing employees. 
  5. MOTIVATION – Walter Code’s policy is to invest in learning and strengthen the skills of our people, causing their professional and personal advancement. They access knowledge by attending learning sessions, workshops and meetups at the academy. Furthermore, we sponsor their memberships at different conferences and educational seminars. An additional motivation is provided through our program of employee satisfaction that consists of our gaming corner, happy hours and team sports activities.

And how does it all influence our productivity?

There are five major proof points which have shown that the Lean-Agile approach increases the productivity of all our teams, by improving the caring climate, management efficiency, employee retention, and job satisfaction:

  1. Provides significant improvement in product quality
  2. Ensures fast adaptability to changes in technology
  3. Causes better efficiency of a team through improved collaboration and transparency 
  4. Attain a business value in the shortest time provided thanks to the better education programs
  5. Ensures positive feedback from clients due to the quality and fast delivery

At the end of the day, the companies that are best for the development of one’s career are not only those that develop people but also those that allow people to “spread their wings” by letting them try out another challenge or a role within the company, fostering the transfer of knowledge from different professions. By introducing the Lean-Agile mindset, companies keep their workers alive and grow with them.