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4 SAFe Core Values: Fundamental Pillars of SAFe’s Success

4 core values of SAFe
SAFe’s effectiveness is underpinned by its 4 Core Values: Alignment, Transparency, Respect for People, and Relentless Improvement.
These foundational beliefs serve as guiding principles, shaping the conduct and actions of every participant across all the value streams, within a SAFe portfolio.
For optimal outcomes, those in positions of authority must lead by example, showcasing these values through their words and deeds.

The Essence of SAFe’s Power

SAFe constitutes a robust framework for achieving business agility, drawing upon a rich tapestry of established knowledge domains, including Agile, Lean, systems thinking, DevOps, and value stream management. The applicability of these domains to business agility is evident in their successful adoption by some of the world’s largest organizations.
This amalgamation of proven practices renders SAFe extensive, profound, and scalable. Yet, at its core, SAFe places utmost importance on four profound beliefs: alignment, transparency, respect for people, and relentless improvement.
These principles are so integral to the practice of SAFe that their absence can undermine the realization of intended business outcomes, endangering the decision to adopt SAFe in the first place. These core values are visually depicted in the below image and elaborated upon in the following sections.

SAFe’s 4 Core Values

SAFe core values
Img Source: Scaled Agile Inc



Just as misaligned cars face handling issues, misaligned companies encounter significant challenges. They struggle to navigate changes in direction and lack responsiveness. Even when the desired destination is clear to all, achieving it remains improbable.
Similarly, organizations transitioning to SAFe require coherence to ensure successful implementation. Lean-Agile principles decentralize decision-making to maximize value delivery within sustainable timeframes. However, discordant decisions lead to delays and quality concerns.
The antidote lies in establishing coherent alignment throughout the enterprise hierarchy, from top leadership to individual contributors.

  1. Communicate Vision, Mission, and Strategy: Alignment commences with the perpetual presence of the enterprise’s vision, mission, and strategy. Infusing these elements into Business Owner briefings during PI planning guarantees alignment between ART efforts and enterprise objectives.
  2. Link Strategy to Execution: Crucially, alignment extends to the alignment of all portfolio endeavors with enterprise priorities. Strategic themes bridge business strategies with tangible guidance, aligning portfolio vision, lean budgets, and epics to prioritize work for teams and trains.
  3. Promote a Common Language: A shared vocabulary is indispensable for alignment. SAFe offers standardized terms and practices, such as backlogs, ART boards, solution intent, and portfolio vision, fostering a unified understanding of work and solutions.
  4. Continuous Verification of Understanding: Upholding alignment necessitates consistent reinforcement. SAFe events and artifacts, like iteration planning, PI planning, and various boards, are tools to maintain alignment. Equally, face-to-face interactions are essential for confirming comprehension.
  5. Customer-Centric Understanding: SAFe advocates continuous exploration through design thinking to capture diverse stakeholder perspectives. This practice ensures backlog items remain aligned with the ultimate authority: the customer.


Complexities often accompany solution development, leading to deviations from initial plans. Without transparency, decisions rest on speculative assumptions and incomplete data. Confidential issues remain unsolvable.
Transparency thrives on trust, where reliance on each other’s integrity, particularly during challenges, fosters an environment conducive to collaboration. Such a transparent and trusting atmosphere is essential for the success of SAFe’s new way of working.

  1. Cultivate a Trust-Based Culture: Trust materializes through actions, not mere sentiment. Trust requires all organizational tiers to exhibit trustworthiness and trust. This involves honoring commitments and entrusting others with their responsibilities.
  2. Open and Direct Communication: The adage “the facts are friendly” echoes in SAFe. A trust-based environment thrives on candid and unembellished information exchange, expediting issue resolution.
  3. Turning Mistakes into Learning Opportunities: Recognizing errors as learning moments fosters psychological safety, enabling swift error identification and resolution.
  4. Visualize Work: Work visibility is paramount for transparency. SAFe achieves this by consistently refining backlogs and employing tools like Kanban boards, ART boards, and PI objectives.
  5. Accessible Information: Transparency mandates easy access to essential information. Ensuring information is readily available and accessible promotes a culture of openness.

Respect for People

The Cornerstone of SAFe’s Human-Centric Approach

At its core, a Lean-Agile framework is executed by people, who are also the ultimate beneficiaries of value generation. Consequently, respect for people should permeate all facets of the new operational model.
Respect is a human necessity, empowering individuals to evolve practices and contribute creatively. Conversely, when respect is absent, commitment wavers. Widespread disrespect spawns toxic environments, leading to poor performance and high attrition. To cultivate a culture of respect for people, consider the following strategies:

  1. Cherish Humanity: ‘Respect for people’ in Lean denotes valuing individual creativity, teamwork, mutual trust, and respect [5].
  2. Celebrate Diversity: Embracing diverse backgrounds fosters respect. However, it’s insufficient to hire a diverse workforce merely. Genuine respect involves valuing differing viewpoints.
  3. Cultivate Growth Through Coaching: Respect extends to facilitating connections for individual development. Cultivating relationships within and beyond the organization enhances personal growth.
  4. Extend Customer-Centricity: Lean and Agile methodologies emphasize customer-centricity. This includes acknowledging that internal stakeholders are also customers, warranting respect.
  5. Forge Mutually Beneficial Partnerships: Respect isn’t limited to internal stakeholders. Suppliers should be treated with the same regard as customers, fostering enduring ‘win-win’ partnerships.

Relentless Improvement

A Journey to Excellence
Unceasingly pursuing perfection is a cardinal tenet of Lean. Although perfection is elusive, the pursuit drives continuous enhancements, yielding better products and services, elevated customer satisfaction, and improved profitability.
Yet, this path hinges on learning. Identifying and resolving organizational challenges often entails iterative, incremental improvements and experimentation. Cultivating a culture of relentless improvement is vital:

  1. Instill a Sense of Urgency: Improvement must be prioritized and adequately resourced, underlining its significance in delivering customer value over competitors.
  2. Cultivate a Problem-Solving Culture: Iterative problem-solving, embodied by the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) cycle, fosters continuous improvement and innovation.
  3. Frequent Reflection and Adaptation: Regular pauses to identify process shortcomings are crucial. Improvement efforts must be managed like any other work to ensure progress.
  4. Empower Fact-Driven Enhancements: Root causes, not assumptions, guide improvements. Measurable results and empirical evidence are the pillars of effective improvement.

Leadership’s Crucial Role

Walking the Talk

Actualizing SAFe’s core values hinges on robust Lean-Agile leadership and a culture of continuous learning. Leaders must personify these values alongside the Lean-Agile Mindset, SAFe Principles, practices, and an unwavering dedication to customer value.
By embodying these attributes, leaders create a lasting, values-centric culture that resonates with teams and stakeholders.



SAFe’s success isn’t solely dependent on frameworks and methodologies; it rests on the shoulders of leaders who embrace and champion these values. Leaders, exemplifying the Lean-Agile Mindset, foster a culture where these values flourish, thereby driving success across teams and stakeholders.
Ultimately, the SAFe journey isn’t just about adopting a framework; it’s about embracing a holistic approach that centers on human potential, collaboration, and continuous betterment. By embracing these Core Values, organizations embark on a transformative voyage towards enduring agility and prosperity.