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A SAFe Holiday: Scaling Agile Can Be Fun Too

In May, Radtac attended the first SAFe Leadership Retreat in Crieff, Scotland. In previous blog posts, we shared with you some insights from the SAFe Leadership Retreat about Scaling Agile and SAFe’s education pathways, telling you how much we learnt from this get-together.

Now it’s time for you to read that SAFe can be fun too. In this blog, I will share with you a bit more on the balance of work and the social side of the event.

First things first. When we booked our places to go on the SAFe leadership retreat, the first thing our partners and colleagues picked up was the location. The iconic Crieff Hydro Hotel.


The Crieff Hydro Hotel is part of a 900-acre resort. This 19th-century spa hotel with annexes is 2 miles away from Scotland's oldest whisky distillery, The Famous Grouse Experience.

So I guess you can imagine what we heard from our colleagues… ‘Oh, that's not work, it's a holiday’, or ‘You’re living the life of Riley’ and so on, and on. It was relentless.

Well, I have to say we had a bit of both. The retreat was structured with a good balance between planned sessions and downtime. We started early in the mornings with breakfast, and then went straight into the morning sessions working up to and through lunch. From 2pm until 5pm we had time to partake in some of the activities on offer at the Crieff Hydro. Then from 5pm, the sessions restarted and we worked right up until and through dinner, with a normal finish time of around 10:30pm.

Truth is we had some very long and intensive days, which were very productive at the same time. But no matter how full the schedule was, there was time put aside for the social activities.

To introduce everyone to each other at the beginning of the conference, we all had our names attached to balloons which were all placed in a big pile. Everyone had to go simply pick a random balloon, and then try to find the person whose balloon they had. This was a great way to meet many people and find out more about them, whilst having a bit of fun.

For the afternoon downtime there were a few activities we could take part in.

There was of course a tour around the Famous Grouse distillery on offer. We wanted to get a bit of fresh air though, so we chose to go mountain biking, quad biking and tried out Segways.

When we decided to go mountain biking, we were given three route options. The Blue route which was ‘flat’, the Red which was more off road, and the Black one for experts. Being a while since we last had a bike trip, we chose the Blue ‘flat’ route.

What we should have done had been very clear on the definition of ‘flat’. Of course, the reality was a tad different, as it usually happens. We actually ended up climbing and descending what felt like a mountain. Although I have to admit the road was nice and smooth - hence the ‘flat’ part in the route description. To say we were out of breath would be an understatement, and what we learnt very clearly was that the definition of ‘flat’ simply means not off road.

The second day we chose to go on Segways. They were a short hike away through the forest from the hotel, which was a lovely walk. We arrived, and put on our safety gear - a helmet and gloves - were given some instructions and a demonstration, and then got on our Segways. Next thing I know was that the heavens opened and it started pouring! The good thing was the rain was fairly horizontal so we were only wet on our backs. Thankfully it was only a short (but heavy) shower, and despite being damp it was a great experience.

All in all, the SAFe Leadership retreat was a great experience. An iconic scenery, with just a bit of rain, biking on ‘flat’ mountain roads and loads of social interaction. We learnt a lot, met a lot of great people, contributed to the SAFe framework, and had fun too. Pretty much all you can ask from such an event.

Did you attend any events lately that you particularly liked?

Images courtesy of Radtac, SAFe Leadership Retreat, TripAdvisor


Alex Gray

Alex Gray

Alex is a professional, versatile and enthusiastic Lean & Agile Trainer/Coach with 20 year’s experience in varied IT projects and roles. A member of the BCS Agile Expert Panel, and an author of the BCS Foundation in Agile Practices syllabus, examination and course materials. Read more