Lab Zero

Scaled Agile: Another Tool for the Toolkit

Agile runs through everything we do at Lab Zero: how we explore customer and market needs; how we describe a problem space and identify product hypotheses; how we course-correct our design and our software seeking qualified feedback along the way; and, of course, how we organize ourselves. We also help our customers integrate these methods throughout their business.

Lab Zero has been leading and supporting Agile adoption and transformation at companies large and small for a decade now. Back in 2011, we determined that the just-published version 1.0 of the Scaled Agile Framework did not address many of the enterprise-level needs we were already addressing for our customers with our own approach. Ever since then we have been tracking the updates to the framework, each time re-evaluating it for use by our clients.

At the same time, we noticed how much this framework has polarized the community, and we were not shy about expressing our own concerns. For us, SAFe has always been a library that included some useful patterns and some patterns that we actively avoided.

In 2017 a Fortune 200 company asked us to lead SAFe adoption at several business units with the goal of improving time-to-market of their product lines. We helped them deploy patterns from the Scaled Agile playbook. For them, the coordinated planning and dependency management yielded a whole new result, plus gave increased visibility to the people doing the work. Changing priorities became possible, and although it wasn’t effortless, at least there was an opportunity to change. Enthusiasm and teamwork improved.

During this time, a fast-growing FinTech startup with just under 50 developers also asked us to help them adopt Scaled Agile. In this case, we steered them back to the methods that were already productive for them. Scaled Agile isn’t something you roll out when you’re small, in hopes that you’ll get the benefits once you’re grown up. Our FinTech client has many miles of road before they will need to implement scaling patterns, and they will find a more developed version of this framework available to them when the time comes.

For us, SAFe is about staying current and having a complete toolset to offer our customers. In order to help our clients figure out what’s right for them, we’ve spiked the Kool-aid of a few more of our team. And now we’re listed as a Scaled Agile Partner.

Wondering whether Scaled Agile is right for your development organization? Let’s talk.

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Lab Zero is a San Francisco-based product team helping startups and Fortune 100 companies build flexible, modern, and secure solutions.