core values SAFe


In the world of Agile methodologies, one framework that has gained significant popularity is the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Moreover, SAFe provides a set of principles and practices that organizations can adopt to achieve agility at scale. Additionally, at the heart of SAFe lies the concept of core values, which play a crucial role in driving Agile transformation. This article will delve into the importance of core values in SAFe and explore how they enable organizations to embrace Agile principles and achieve successful transformations.


What is SAFe value? 

Before diving into the core values of SAFe Agile, it is essential to understand what SAFe value represents. SAFe value is a set of guiding principles that help organizations align their efforts, collaborate effectively, and deliver value to customers in a predictable and efficient manner. These values serve as a compass, guiding decision-making and behavior at all levels of the organization. 

Understanding the importance of core values in SAFe 

The core values of SAFe Agile are not just empty words on a poster; rather, they hold immense importance in driving Agile transformation. Additionally, these values create a shared understanding and mindset across the organization, enabling individuals and teams to work collaboratively towards a common purpose. By embracing and internalizing these values, organizations can overcome the challenges of implementing Agile at scale and achieve sustainable agility.

The five core values of SAFe Agile 

The five core values of SAFe Agile—Alignment, Built-in Quality, Transparency, Program Execution, and Innovation—serve as guiding principles for organizations adopting the framework. Let’s explore each value in detail: 


Alignment ensures that everyone in the organization is working towards a common goal. It promotes collaboration, reduces conflicts, and enables teams to make decisions based on shared objectives. When teams are aligned, they can deliver value more efficiently and effectively. 

Built-in Quality 

Quality is not an afterthought in SAFe Agile; it is built into every aspect of the development process. By focusing on quality from the start, organizations can deliver reliable and valuable solutions to their customers. This value emphasizes the importance of testing, continuous integration, and other quality practices. 


Transparency plays a crucial role in Agile transformation. It allows teams and stakeholders to have a clear view of progress, challenges, and risks, facilitating effective collaboration and decision-making. Transparency fosters trust and enables teams to address issues promptly, ensuring successful delivery. 

Program Execution 

Program execution is a core value in SAFe Agile. It emphasizes the need to execute programs efficiently and effectively to deliver customer value. This value encourages organizations to adopt Lean-Agile practices, such as Agile Release Trains, to coordinate and synchronize work across multiple teams. 


Innovation is the lifeblood of organizations in today’s fast-paced world. SAFe Agile recognizes the importance of fostering a culture of innovation to stay ahead of the competition. By encouraging experimentation, learning, and continuous improvement, organizations can drive innovation and create solutions that meet the evolving needs of their customers. 

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What are the core principles of SAFe Agile? 

In addition to the core values, SAFe Agile is guided by a set of core principles that further enhance its effectiveness. These principles provide practical guidance on how to apply the core values in real-world scenarios and enable organizations to achieve successful Agile transformations. The core principles of SAFe Agile include: 

  • Take an economic view. SAFe Agile encourages organizations to adopt an economic view of their decisions and investments, considering the cost, benefits, and risks associated with different options. 
  • Apply systems thinking. Systems thinking helps organizations understand the interdependencies and interactions between different parts of the system. By considering the system as a whole, organizations can optimize their processes and improve overall performance. 
  • Assume variability; preserve options. SAFe Agile recognizes that variability is inherent in complex systems. By preserving options and delaying decisions until the last responsible moment, organizations can respond effectively to changing circumstances. 
  • Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles. SAFe Agile promotes an incremental and iterative approach to development. By delivering value in small increments and gathering feedback early and often, organizations can learn and adapt quickly. 
  • Base milestones on objective evaluation of working systems. Milestones in SAFe Agile are based on objective evaluations of working systems. This ensures that progress is measured based on tangible outcomes and helps organizations stay focused on delivering customer value. 
  • Visualize and limit WIP, reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths. SAFe Agile emphasizes the importance of visualizing work, limiting work in progress (WIP), reducing batch sizes, and managing queue lengths. These practices help organizations improve flow and optimize their delivery processes. 

Implementing the core values in an Agile transformation

Implementing the core values of SAFe Agile requires a holistic approach involving leadership, teams, and individuals at all levels of the organization. Additionally, here are some key steps to effectively implement the core values. Firstly, Leadership commitment is crucial. Leadership buy-in and commitment are crucial for successfully implementing the core values. Leaders should embody the values themselves and actively promote them throughout the organization. Secondly, Training and education are essential. Providing training and education on SAFe Agile core values is essential to ensure everyone understands and embraces them. This can be achieved through workshops, coaching, and certification programs.

Thirdly, Aligning roles and responsibilities is important. Clear roles and responsibilities should be defined to ensure alignment with the core values. This includes establishing cross-functional teams, assigning product owners, and empowering teams to make decisions. Additionally, Creating a culture of trust is fundamental. Trust is a fundamental aspect of SAFe Agile. Organizations should foster a culture of trust by promoting open communication, transparency, and accountability. Lastly, Continuous improvement is key. Implementing the core values is an ongoing process. Organizations should encourage continuous improvement by regularly reviewing and adapting their practices and processes.

Which SAFe core value enables trust? 

Trust is an integral part of any successful Agile transformation, and the core value of transparency in SAFe Agile enables trust. Transparency ensures that organizations openly share information, make progress visible, and promptly address challenges. When teams and stakeholders have a transparent view of the work being done, they build trust, and collaboration becomes more effective.

Benefits of aligning with SAFe Agile core values 

Aligning with SAFe Agile core values offers several benefits to organizations undergoing Agile transformation. Firstly, Improved collaboration is facilitated by the core values of SAFe Agile, fostering collaboration and enabling teams to work together effectively towards a common goal. Secondly, Higher customer satisfaction is achievable by focusing on building quality into every aspect of development, ensuring organizations deliver valuable solutions that meet customer needs and expectations. Additionally, alignment, transparency, and program execution values in SAFe Agile contribute to increased efficiency and productivity by helping organizations streamline processes, reduce waste, and improve overall efficiency and productivity.

Moreover, core values such as assuming variability and preserving options support adaptability to change, enabling organizations to respond effectively to changing circumstances and adapt their plans and strategies accordingly. Lastly, embracing the core value of innovation fosters a culture of creativity and continuous improvement, promoting a culture of innovation that enables organizations to stay ahead of the competition.

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What are the 4 pillars of SAFe Agile? 

In addition to the core values and principles, SAFe Agile supports four pillars that further guide and structure organizations adopting the framework. These pillars are: 

  1. Lean-Agile Leadership: Lean-Agile Leadership provides guidance on how to lead in a Lean-Agile organization, emphasizing the importance of creating a culture of continuous improvement and empowering teams. 
  2. Team and Technical Agility: Team and Technical Agility focuses on the practices and techniques that enable teams to deliver value quickly, reliably, and sustainably. This pillar encompasses Agile practices, DevOps, and technical excellence. 
  3. Agile Product Delivery: Agile Product Delivery guides organizations on how to align their product development efforts with customer needs and market demand. It includes practices such as Lean Portfolio Management, Agile Release Trains, and Value Stream Mapping. 
  4. Enterprise Solution Delivery: Enterprise Solution Delivery provides guidance on how to coordinate and integrate the work of multiple Agile Release Trains to deliver large-scale solutions. It includes practices such as solution intent, solution context, and solution demonstration. 

Challenges in adopting and maintaining the core values in SAFe Agile 

While the core values of SAFe Agile offer numerous benefits, organizations may face challenges in adopting and maintaining them. Firstly, Resistance to change can be met with resistance, especially in organizations with a traditional hierarchical structure. Secondly, Lack of alignment may arise across different teams and departments, particularly in large organizations. Additionally, Inconsistent implementation can lead to confusion and hinder the Agile transformation. Lastly, a Siloed mindset may impede collaboration and hinder the adoption of core values. Encouraging open communication, providing support, ensuring clear communication, promoting shared goals, offering regular training, coaching, and feedback, and creating cross-functional teams can help organizations address these challenges and successfully navigate the Agile transformation process.

Strategies for promoting and reinforcing the core values in SAFe Agile

To promote and reinforce the core values of SAFe Agile, organizations can adopt the following strategies. Firstly, Lead by example is crucial; leaders should embody the core values themselves and demonstrate them in their actions and decisions. Secondly, Providing continuous training and education is essential; regular training sessions, workshops, and certification programs can help reinforce the core values and keep teams updated on the latest practices.

Additionally, Celebrating success is important; recognizing and celebrating the achievements and efforts of teams and individuals who embody the core values reinforces their importance and encourages others to follow suit. Moreover, Establishing feedback loops is beneficial; creating feedback loops at all levels of the organization to gather insights, address challenges, and make improvements ensures that the core values are constantly evaluated and refined. Lastly, Encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing fosters a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing to promote the core values. Encouraging teams to work together, share best practices, and learn from each other’s experiences promotes the core values.

What are the values of SAFe in Scrum? 

While SAFe and Scrum are separate frameworks, SAFe does incorporate the core values of Scrum. Moreover, the values of SAFe in Scrum include: Firstly, Commitment, where teams commit to achieving their Sprint goals and delivering value to customers. Secondly, Courage, where teams have the courage to take risks, experiment, and learn from their failures. Additionally, Focus, where teams maintain focus on their Sprint goals and work collaboratively to deliver value. Moreover, Openness fosters an environment of openness and transparency, encouraging open communication and feedback. Lastly, Respect, where teams respect each other’s contributions, opinions, and perspectives, fostering a positive and inclusive work environment.

Training and certification programs for understanding and implementing SAFe Agile core values 

To help organizations and individuals understand and implement SAFe Agile core values, several training and certification programs are available. These programs provide comprehensive guidance on the framework and its core values, enabling participants to become SAFe Agilists and practitioners. Some popular SAFe training and certification programs include: 

  • SAFe Agilist (SA). This certification program provides an understanding of the principles and practices of SAFe Agile, including the core values. It is suitable for leaders, managers, and Agile change agents. 
  • SAFe Scrum Master (SSM). This program focuses on the role of a Scrum Master in a SAFe Agile environment, providing insights into implementing the core values of SAFe in Scrum. 
  • SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM). This program is designed for individuals responsible for the product management and ownership within a SAFe Agile organization. It covers the core values and their application in product development. 
  • SAFe for Teams (SP). This program is targeted at Agile teams working within a SAFe Agile organization. It provides an understanding of the core values and how they can be applied to enhance team performance. 

Conclusion: The role of core values in driving Agile transformation with SAFe

SAFe Agile core values play a pivotal role in driving Agile transformation within organizations. By embracing these values, organizations can align their efforts, foster collaboration, and deliver value to customers more effectively. The core values of SAFe Agile—Alignment, Built-in Quality, Transparency, Program Execution, and Innovation—provide a shared set of beliefs and principles that guide individuals, teams, and organizations in their Agile journey. By implementing these values, organizations can overcome challenges, achieve sustainable agility, and drive successful Agile transformations. 

Remember, the success of Agile transformation relies not only on adopting the practices and processes but also on embracing the core values and principles that underpin the framework. With the right mindset, commitment, and continuous improvement, organizations can navigate the complexities of Agile transformation and reap the benefits of SAFe Agile core values.

Thank you for reading, to learn more, read our article Value Stream Management Platform: Unlocking Business Efficiency to gain more valuable insight.

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