Core Values - Scaled Agile Framework (2023)

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Find people who share your values, and you’ll conquer the world together.

—John Ratzenberger

The four Core Values of alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution represent the fundamental beliefs that are key to SAFe’s effectiveness. These guiding principles help dictate behavior and action for everyone who participates in a SAFe portfolio.

SAFe is based on four primary bodies of knowledge: Agile development, Lean product development, systems thinking, and DevOps. That makes SAFe broad, deep and scalable. But at its core, SAFe places the highest value on four things: alignment,built-in quality, transparency, andprogram execution. These are illustratedin Figure 1 and described in the following sections.

Core Values - Scaled Agile Framework (2)


Like cars out of alignment, misaligned companiescan develop serious problems. They are hard to steer, and they don’t respond well to changes in direction [1]. Evenif it’s clear where everyone thinks they’re headed,the vehicleis unlikely to get them there.

Alignment is needed to keep pace with fast change, disruptive competitive forces, and geographically distributed teams. While empowered,Agile Teams are good (even great), but the responsibility for strategy and alignment cannot rest with the combined opinions of the teams, no matter how goodthey are. Instead, alignment must rely on the Enterprise business objectives. Here aresome of the ways how SAFe supports alignment:

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  • Alignment starts with the strategy and investment decisions at thePortfoliolevel and is reflected in Strategic Themes, Portfolio Vision, the Portfolio Backlog, and the outcomes of Participatory Budgeting. In turn, this informs the Vision, Roadmap, and the backlogs at all levels of SAFe. Continuous Exploration with Customer Centricity and Design Thinking gathers the inputs and perspectives from a diverse group of stakeholders and information sources to ensure that the items in the backlogs contain economically prioritized and refined work, ready for teams to implement. All work is visible, debated, resolved and transparent.
  • Alignment is supported by clear lines of content authority, starting with the portfolio and then resting primarily with the Product and Solution Management roles, and extending to the Product Owner role.
  • PI Objectives and Iteration Goals are usedto communicate expectations andcommitments.
  • Cadence and synchronization are applied to ensure that things stay in alignment, or that they drift only within reasonable economic and time boundaries.
  • Architectures and user experience guidance and governance help ensure that the Solution is technologicallysound, robust, and scalable.
  • Economic prioritization keeps stakeholders engaged in continuous, agreed-to, rolling-wave prioritization, based on the current context and evolving facts.

Alignment, however, does not imply or encourage top-down command and control. Alignment occurs when everyone is working toward a common direction. Indeed, Alignment enables empowerment, autonomy, and Decentralized Decision-making, allowing those who implement value to make better local decisions.

Built-in Quality

“Inspection does not improve the quality, nor guarantee quality. Inspection is too late. The quality, good or bad, is already in the product. Quality cannot be inspected into a product or service; it must be built into it.”

—W. Edwards Deming

Built-in Quality ensures that every element and every increment of the solution reflects quality standards throughout the development lifecycle. Quality is not “added later.” Building quality in is a prerequisite of Lean and flow—without it, the organization will likely operate with large batches of unverified, unvalidated work. Excessive rework and slower velocities are likely results.

Also the bigger the system, the more important endemic quality is, so there can be no ambiguity about the importance of built-in quality in large-scale systems. It is mandatory. Built-in quality is a major foundational element of SAFe, and since it’s impossible to localizethe quality discussion to every specific activity or artifact that affects quality, the SAFe Built-in Quality article organizes quality thinking around five specific aspects—Flow, Architecture and Design Quality, Code Quality, System Quality and Release Quality, as Figure 2 illustrates.

Core Values - Scaled Agile Framework (3)

The DevOps article provides deeper technical guidance for DevSecOps practices that ensure build-in quality and security are integral to how enterprises develop software-based solutions. In addition, these articles are augmented by three Advanced Topic articles, Agile Testing, Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) and Test-Driven Development. Together, this set of articles provides a fairly comprehensive starting point for achieving built-in quality in large systems.

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Solution development is hard. Thingsgo wrong or do not work out as planned. Without openness, facts are obscure and decision-making is based on speculative assumptions and lack of data. No one can fix a secret.

To ensure openness—trust is needed. Trust existswhen the business and development can confidently rely on another to act with integrity, particularly in times of difficulty. Without trust no one can build high-performance teams and programs, nor build (or rebuild) the confidence needed to make and meet reasonable commitments. And without trust, working environments are a lot less fun and motivating.

Building trust takes time. Transparency is an enabler of trust, provided through several SAFe practices:

  • Executives, Lean Portfolio Management, and other stakeholders can see the Portfolio Kanbanand program backlogs, and they have a clear understanding of the PI Objectives for each Agile Release Train or Solution Train.
  • ARTs havevisibility into the team’s backlogs, as well as other Program Backlogs.
  • Teamsand programs commit to short-term, visible commitments that they routinely meet.
  • Inspect and Adaptoccurs with all relevant stakeholders and creates backlog improvement items from lessons learned.
  • Teams and Agile Release Trains (ARTs) can see portfolio business and enabler Epics. They have visibility into new initiatives.
  • Progress is based on objective measures of workingsolutions. (Principle #5)
  • Everyone can understand the velocity and WIP of the teams and programs; strategy and the ability to execute are visibly aligned.
  • Programs execute reliably, as noted below.

Lean-Agile Leaders also play a critical role in creating an environment that fosters trust and transparency.

Program Execution

Of course, none of the rest of SAFe matters if teamscan’t execute and continuously deliver value. Therefore,SAFe places an intense focus on working systems and business outcomes. History shows us that while many enterprises start the transformation with individual Agile teams, they oftenbecome frustrated as even those teams struggle to deliver more substantial amounts of solution value, reliably and efficiently.

That is the purpose of the ART, and that is why SAFe focuses implementation initially at Essential SAFe. In turn, the ability of Value Streams to deliver value depends on the ability of the ARTs and Solution Trains.

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But withalignment, transparency, and built-in quality on the team’sside, they have a little ‘wind at their back.’ That enables a focus on execution. And if they struggle—and theywill, because complex solution development is hard—they have the cornerstone of the Inspect and Adapt workshops. In that way, they close the loop and execute better and better during each Program Increment.

Leadership is Required

Successful scaled Lean-Agile development and these fourcore values require theactive support ofLean-Agile Leadership and a Continuous Learning Culture. Leaders couple these core values with SAFe Lean-AgilePrinciples and practices and an orientation toward creating value for customers. In turn, that creates a persistent and meaningful culture for the teams and their stakeholders.

This is the way successful teams and programs are doing it, and that’s why they are getting the many benefits—employee engagement, productivity, quality, and time to market—that Lean-Agile enterprises so enjoy.

Learn More

[1]Labovitz, George H., and Victor Rosansky. The Power of Alignment: How Great Companies Stay Centered and Accomplish Extraordinary Things. Wiley, 1997.
[2] Manifesto for Software Development.[3] Oosterwal, Dantar P. The Lean Machine: How Harley-Davidson Drove Top-Line Growth and Profitability with Revolutionary Lean Product Development. Amacom, 2010.

Last update: 10 February 2021

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What are the 4 core values of Scaled Agile Framework? ›

The four Core Values of alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution represent the fundamental beliefs that are key to SAFe's effectiveness. These guiding principles help dictate behavior and action for everyone who participates in a SAFe portfolio.

What are the 7 core competencies of SAFe? ›

The seven core competencies are:
  • Lean-Agile Leadership.
  • Team and Technical Agility.
  • Agile Product Delivery.
  • Enterprise Solution Delivery.
  • Lean Portfolio Management.
  • Organizational Agility.
  • Continuous Learning Culture.

Which statement fits with SAFe core values of built-in quality? ›

Which statement fits with the SAFe Core Value of Built-in Quality? Product Management has content authority over the Program Backlog.

What are SAFe 5.0 core competencies? ›

The original five competencies are: Lean-Agile Leadership. Team and Technical Agility. Agile Product Delivery.

What do the 4 Agile values mean? ›

The Agile Manifesto consists of four key values: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Working software over comprehensive documentation. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Responding to change over following a plan.

What is the importance of 4 core values? ›

Core values are one piece of creating a repeatable, scalable system. They allow people in your organization to make good decisions on their own, by simply applying the values to new challenges that come along. Your core values will remove bottlenecks and empower individual growth across your organization.

What are the 3 main core competencies? ›

Competencies fall into three main categories: Core, Cross-functional and Functional. All are important, but there is a hierarchy.

What are the 4 elements of core competencies? ›

Variables of the Four Core Competencies

The model focuses on a combination of specific, collaborative, integrated and applied knowledge, skills and attitude.

How do you exemplify SAFe core values? ›

The four SAFe core values are alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution.
  1. Alignment. The first SAFe core value is alignment. ...
  2. Built-In Quality. ...
  3. Transparency. ...
  4. Program Execution. ...
  5. Achieving Alignment. ...
  6. Achieving Transparency. ...
  7. Achieving Built-in Quality. ...
  8. Achieving Program Execution.
Jun 3, 2021

How do you write a core value for safety? ›

Establishing Safety as a Core Value

This means empowering employees to do the right things and not penalizing them for it when they do. Another way to establish safety as a core value is to view it just like you view every other department.

Is safety a priority or a core value? ›

Safety is a core value. It requires a personal commitment at all levels in the organization. There's a big difference in how a company thinks and behaves when safety is a value, rather than a program or a priority. For a company with safety as a core value, safety has become a way of life.

How do you pass the leading SAFe 5.0 exam? ›

One of the best ways to do that is by taking the practice test in the same conditions that you'll take the certification exam. For SAFe 5.0 exams, you can see exactly which questions you got wrong. I know a few people who like to take the practice test again and again and again until they get above a 90 percent.

Which is a SAFe core value *? ›

The four core values of SAFe are alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution. They all work together to align organizations so that they meet their desired goals. SAFe is very instrumental in large teams and focuses both on business systems and outcomes.

What are the 3 C's in SAFe? ›

The 3Cs: Card, Conversation, Confirmation

Card – Captures the user story's statement of intent using an index card, sticky note, or tool. Index cards provide a physical relationship between the team and the story.

What are the 3 C's in agile? ›

The three Cs stand for Card, Conversation and Confirmation and in this article, I'm going to discuss each of the elements, explaining why, and how to ensure you're doing it right. I'll also scatter in a few tips from my experiences with agile teams.

Why are the 5 Scrum values important? ›

The five Scrum values are commitment, focus, openness, respect, and courage. In Scrum methodology, these values serve as a guide for individual and team behavior, intending to boost collaboration and increase the odds of project success.

Which of the agile values do you think is the most important? ›

According to the Agile Manifesto, the more important values are individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change. Agile organizations use processes and tools, appropriate documentation, contracts, and plans to support the more important values.

How do you explain core values? ›

Core values are traits or qualities that are not just worthwhile, they represent an individual's or an organization's highest priorities, deeply held beliefs, and core, fundamental driving forces. They are the heart of what your organization and its employees stand for in the world.

What core value is most important? ›

Integrity, kindness, honesty, and financial security are typical examples of personal core values. Others often see these values as your character traits. For example, someone is known for always doing the right thing likely values integrity.

What are the 5 always important values? ›

What Are Some Common Values?
  • Loyalty.
  • Spirituality.
  • Humility.
  • Compassion.
  • Honesty.
  • Kindness.
  • Integrity.
  • Selflessness.

Which top 3 competencies make you a good candidate? ›

  • So, we narrowed down the list to five critical job candidate qualities: Teamwork. ...
  • Teamwork. Most jobs require a degree of collaboration with other people – and sometimes managing others, as well. ...
  • Willingness to learn. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Self-motivation. ...
  • Culture fit. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Willingness to learn.

What are the 6 core competencies? ›

The 6 general competencies are:
  • Patient care.
  • Medical Knowledge.
  • Professionalism.
  • Systems-based Practice.
  • Practice-based Learning.
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills.

What are the four 4 common competencies? ›

communication, engagement/charisma, delegation, respect.

What are the most important core competencies? ›

Examples of personal core competencies

Here are some examples of common personal core competencies: Strategic planning. Excellent organization skills. Leadership and personnel management.

How do you evaluate core competencies? ›

Prahalad and Gary Hamel, there are three tests for core competencies:
  1. Relevance: why your customer chooses you over any competitor.
  2. Difficulty of imitation: your offering must be unique and robust.
  3. Breadth of application: your competency provides access to a range of new markets.

What are the 3 5 key professional competencies? ›

Professional Competencies
  • Critical Thinking. Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions and find innovative solutions.
  • Professionalism. Demonstrate Integrity through work ethic, personal accountability, professional image, and ethical behavior.
  • Communication. ...
  • Teamwork.

What are the 9 core competencies? ›

Nine Core Competencies
  • Finance. Cost justification. Budgeting. Vendor negotiation (if necessary)
  • Team Leadership. Inclusion of a cross-disciplinary team. Multidisciplinary collaboration within the organization.
  • Policy and Procedure Deployment. Develops written SPHM policy and procedures. Obtains management and staff acceptance.

How do I present my core values? ›

Photos courtesy of the individual members.
  1. Use An Engaging Format.
  2. Talk About What Works And Doesn't.
  3. Fully Incorporate The Values In Your Brand.
  4. Tie Each Value To The Job Description.
  5. Use Dedicated Content And Guidelines.
  6. Leverage Virtual Engagement.
  7. Create A Workshop.
  8. Show The Values In Action.
Jul 10, 2020

How do you explain integrity as a core value? ›

Integrity is defined in our core values as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that unify us as an undivided team”. This means that every task, every conversation, and every learning opportunity is met with honesty and the desire to do what is right.

What is a core value that you believe is important in the workplace Why? ›


Valuing integrity in the workplace means that you strive to do the right thing, even when you think no one is looking. You may also value honesty, transparency and a commitment to doing what's best for your clients, customers, teammates and company.

How do you write good core values? ›

How to write core values
  1. Brainstorm values.
  2. Group and eliminate.
  3. Distill core elements.
  4. Draft a statement.
  5. Finalize core values.
  6. Communicate the statement.
  7. Live the values.

How do you write a good value statement? ›

A values statement should be memorable, actionable and timeless. The format of the values statement depends on the organizations; some organizations use one, two or three words to describe their core values while others provide a short phrase.

What is accountability as a core value? ›

"The obligation to explain, justify, and take responsibility for one's actions. Accountability is the state of being accountable, meaning responsible for something or obligated to answer to someone, such as a person with more authority, like a boss".

Is health and safety a core value? ›

Being committed towards a strong health and safety awareness will help to cultivate a safe and positive working environment in your organization. Implementing safety as a core value is not only an investment in your organization, but in your employees.

Which three values are your highest priorities? ›

And, as author and business consultant Jim Collins famously said, “If you have more than three priorities, you don't have any.” What exactly are these three magical priorities in life? Well, it's simple. Your health, relationships, and purpose.

What is the difference between priorities and values? ›

Priority: Something of importance that changes due to outside influences and demands. Value: A core principle that an outside influence or demand is unable to change.

Is the SAFe exam difficult? ›

How difficult is the NMLS SAFE Act exam? Passing the exam is not easy… in fact, according to NMLS SAFE test passing rate, the first time pass rate is 54%, and only 46.7% for subsequent attempts.

Is the SAFe agile test hard? ›

SAFe Agilist exam is a tough one and not easy to crack, but it is also not impossible to crack the exam.

How difficult it it is to pass SAFe agile exam? ›

There are 45 questions on the exam and once the exam is started it must be completed within 90 minutes. The passing score is 77% or 35 correct out of 45 questions.

Which is not a core value? ›

As you hopefully know, core values stem from who you are and typically stem from the founder. They are what define your unique culture. If you are creating a core value to solve a problem—for instance, being profit-focused, being accountable, working hard, being respectful, problem solving—it's not a core value.

What is core value and why is it important? ›

A company's Core Values reflect what every person in the organization believes and stands for. These values create a sense of shared responsibility and accountability. Every important work decision should align with at least one of your Core Values.

What is a positive core value? ›

What it means, what we need people to do, is bring energy and enthusiasm to their work. It means being supportive of others, being supportive of the processes we use, of the clients we work with, and of the firm.

What are the top 5 agile principles? ›

Agile principles
  • Early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Embrace change.
  • Frequent delivery.
  • Cooperation.
  • Autonomy and motivation.
  • Better communication.
  • Working software.
  • Stable work environments.
Jul 26, 2021

What are the three pillars that built on Scaled Agile Framework? ›

Most importantly, SAFE's foundation consists of three metaphorical pillars: Team, Program, and Portfolio.

What are the 5 core Scrum values? ›

The Five Scrum Values

A team's success with scrum depends on five values: commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect.

What are the most important Agile values? ›

According to the Agile Manifesto, the more important values are individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change. Agile organizations use processes and tools, appropriate documentation, contracts, and plans to support the more important values.


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