Pacific Express

Foreword by Dean Leffingwell

Alex Yakyma: Launching an Agile Release Train
Building really big software systems is one of the most challenging intellectual endeavors facing today’s businesses. To help address this challenge, we’ve created the Scaled Agile Framework, (SAFe), a knowledge base of proven best practices that you can use to help bring the benefits of Lean and Agile development to your business, and also better the lives—not just of the users for whom we build these systems—but also of the millions of software practitioners who create them. We do this, most simply, because better software makes the world a better place.

That scales.

To accomplish this, SAFe is based on three primary knowledge pools, Lean, Systems Thinking and Agile development. These values and principles power SAFe and provide the bedrock that make it “safe” and effective. SAFe is freely-revealed and publicly-facing, so that you can begin to apply it immediately in your business context.

Freely revealed-yes, magic-no. Implementing SAFe is hard work. New values, new ways of working, and a willingness to engage and fully empower the people who do this important work are all required. And there is no hidden, or proprietary, secret sauce that unlocks the magic. If there is any magic to be found, it comes from the hearts and minds of those dedicated people for whom the status quo is not ok; those who face the burden of change, some positively, some negatively. SAFe is a documented system, but it is people who do the work.

To that end, Alex, has put together this work of semi-fiction, focused on one key element of SAFe, the Agile Release Train. Semi-fiction because the business and characters are fictional, but the challenges, vignettes, opinions and behaviors expressed were real. His goal is to help you understand SAFe, inside out, from the standpoint of the people doing the work. He has chosen this novella as an experiment to see if we can better communicate why and how it works.

So let’s leave the SAFe website, with its practices, figures, artifacts, activities and references, and enter this fictional world, even if just for an hour or two. Let’s see if we can find an even better understanding of why SAFe works the way it does, and perhaps find a little fictional enjoyment in the process. I know I did, and I expect you will too.