SAFe Lean Agile Principles

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Apr 15, 2024

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People's interaction with each other is important as they are the key contributors to the successful implementation of projects in organizations. The agile manifesto has explained in its 12 principles about how every individual behave in an organization. How do they interpret others, etc? The understanding of these principles is required to grasp the agile way of project management. 

The lean transformation from agile to lean-agile at an enterprise level is achieved with the Scaled agile principles called lean agile principles. 

Define lean agile principles? 

It is the economic concept that informs the practices and role of the SAFe. 10 chief underlying principles help in effective enterprise management. The prime motive of these principles is to gain knowledge about the existence of uncertainty in complex systems. 

Why is it important? 

  • Lean agile principles allow building enterprise-class software easily. 
  • It improves employee engagement, the team’s productivity, quality of the solution and the market time. 
  • The basic purpose of the principle is to guide the team to align with the house of lean goal. 

What are they and explain?

All the ten principles have been explained in detail in the scaled agile framework site. However, we would like to highlight the key points revolving around each principle. 

economic principle

1. Economic view 

Understanding the economy of the system is important to save developing cost and delivering time. Every contributor in the team should be aware of the monetary impact of the decisions they take in developing a product. This is the reason lean agile principles have emphasized economic view as the first principle. The economic view can be achieved by 

  • Delivering early and delivering often
  • Apply the economic framework given below 

                    1. Operate within the lean budget

                    2. Understand solution economic trade-off

                    3. Leverage supplier

                    4. Sequence jobs for yielding maximum benefits. 

2. Systems thinking 

Understand the aim of the system as it will offer a holistic way to develop a solution to a problem. It incorporates every aspect of the system along with the environment in designing, developing, deploying and maintaining.

Chief system thinking aspects include 

  • The solution and system are the same. 
  • The enterprise that builds the system is also a system. 
  • The full value stream must be optimized. 

The above aspects of system thinking will allow both the team and the leaders to recognize the ‘what’ and ‘why’. This will, in turn, lead to the development of quality output. 

3. Variability assumption and option preservation

Accept the current variability and re-examine the requirement points to refine the variability in the future iterations. Follow a set-based design approach by developing a wider cast at the beginning itself keeping different options open. Based on the economy and the availability of the system, use one option, but preserve others for later use. The lean agile principles will provide room for adding design options in the future. 

It will open and converge based on the situation and it leads to both optimal and economic outcomes.

4. Building Increments – Use quick and integrated learning cycles  

When increments are built constantly and customers are allowed to view them it will help in reducing the risk. In a running system, this increment will add on and act as a prototype enabling market validation and testing. 

  1. The integration points will create data even from the uncertainty. 
  2. These points occur intentionally.
  3. They provide insight into the technical possibility of the present design selection.

Increment building allows rapid learning with a quick learning cycle. For a complex system, these integration points can be used to check every system's capability to meet the responsibility. Connecting local points to the higher system is a must to reap the benefits of integration. 

5. Evaluate objective milestones 

 The lean agile principles aim in breaking down the traditional model to set-based design. In this, the increments are built rapidly with integrated learning cycles. Therefore at every point, a milestone is involved and this will cover the entire SDLC from the requirement of testing and thus produces a value increment. 

6. Work in Progress (WIP) – Visualization

It is a good practice to visualize the WIP which will allow limiting them by reducing the batch size as well as managing queue lengths.  All three methods are followed to achieve a continuous flow of state to quickly move new system features. 

  • WIP must be made visible to all stakeholders 
  • Then balance the WIP with the development capacity 
  • Finally, limit WIP by reducing the size of the work. The reduced batch size will get processed quickly with more stability. 

Tips to keep the flow on continuously 

  1. Let the team and the backlogs be short and non-committal.
  2. Set up a WIP limit for every process step.
  3. Don’t get tempted with long-term commitments as it will decrease the enterprise agility. 

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7. Set a rhythm and coordinate with cross-domain planning 

Cadence Principles of flow 

1.Variance accumulation can be prevented by using regular cadence.

2.Cadence is enabled by providing sufficient capacity margin.

3.Small batch sizes are enabled with periodical cadence. 

Benefits offered by Cadence 

  1. It creates predictability by providing a rhythm for developing. 
  2. It reduces cost by converting the unpredictable event into predictable ones 
  3. Helps in predicting the waiting time of new work
  4. Allows regular planning and coordination with cross-functional domains 
  5. Gives input about the scheduled integration points.

Synchronization Principles of flow 

  1. Multiple projects synchronized lead to exploiting economies. 
  2. Deliverables synchronization is enabled by the capacity margin.
  3. Synchronization reduces the queue.

Benefits offered by Synchronization 

  1. Different events can happen at the same time. Also, offers multiple feedbacks. 
  2. Cross-functional tradeoffs are facilitated.
  3. It offers dependency management routinely. 
  4. It allows understanding, resolving and integrating different outlooks at the same time.  

8. Identify and release the intrinsic motivation of skilled resources 

Compensation alone cannot motivate skilled resources and it may even defeat the purpose of unity but leads to jealously. Lean agile principles suggest the following guidelines to motivate resources. 

  1. By skilled workers, we mean that resources who can communicate across boundaries irrespective of the functionality. They can understand economics and take decisions. Thus they need to have education about the role of compensation in an organization rather than just using that as a motivational weapon. 
  2. Provide them with independence defining the purpose and mission. They can run on their own that is their major strength and they will feel motivated. 
  3. Make the environment mutually influential. 

9. Decision making decentralized 

By distributing the decision making it will reduce delay, and improve the development flow. Further, enables quicker feedback with an innovative solution. However, keep strategic decisions centralized. 

Recurrent problems, time-critical decisions, and decisions that need local details can be decentralized Product strategy decisions, value stream decisions, and that which provides noteworthy economies of scale must be centralized

10.Value-based organization 

Do away with organizing things based on the old principles and create a value-based organization. 

Follow the steps given below to make a value-based organization 

  1. Rethink the organization 
  2. Understand the flow of value 
  3. Realize value stream with agile trains and teams 
  4. Collect the value streams and call it portfolio
  5. Reorganize based on the values 

Wanting to know more in detail about lean agile principles? 

Come join the SAFe Agile Certification to put all principles in practice in your organization. 

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