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Event Spotlight Part 1: Inaugural SAFe Leadership Retreat

The first SAFe Leadership was held between 26-29 May in Crieff, Scotland.

SAFe Leadership had the stated aims of:

  • Share ideas and experiences from a broad range of SAFe practitioners
  • Provide input into the direction of SAFe
  • Build our community.

Over 40 thought leaders from around the globe, including America, Brazil, Australia, Israel and Europe descended on Crieff in Scotland for the inaugural SAFe Leadership retreat to discuss latest thinking, the imminent release of SAFe 4.0 and the new ideas in the Cost of Delay.

We were very privileged to have the presence of the Scaled Agile Inc, not least Dean Leffingwell creator of the Framework, Chris James COO, Drew Jemlio CTO, Inbar Orin, Principal Contributor to the Framework, Carol McEwan VP recently appointed as VP of Community and Jennifer Fawcett responsible for Curriculum and Certification and now my official yoga instructor!

Radtac was delighted to be part of this ground-breaking event, attended by myself, Alex Gray and Randal Cooper - all of us being Scaled Program Consultants.

Left to right: Darren Wilmshurst, Stuart Young (Visual Artist), Alex Gray and Randal Cooper.

SAFe 4.0

The Leadership Retreat began with a plenary session by Scaled Agile, which in itself triggered many Open Space sessions. This included the direction of SAFe 4.0, which is due for general release later in the year.

SAFe 4.0 will include Kanban at the team level and will combine SAFe and SAFe Lean Systems Engineering.

As a community we ‘road tested’ version 4.0 and Dean commented that as a community we provided ‘material inputs into the next version of SAFe’; we are proud to be part of the community shaping the direction of SAFe.

Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)

Until then, we will have a closer look at a very interesting topic that was discussed in a Open Space session: a simulation of prioritising features using Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF), designed and presented by Mark Richards

If, as a company, you are struggling with prioritisation because of the diversity of opinions, trying to clarify assumptions and avoiding ‘loudest voice dominates’, then this simulation is great for getting a shared definition of what value really is.

I am sure everyone is comfortable prioritising features using just value. But what if features are different sizes but the same value? Do the smaller feature first. What if we have two features of the same size but different value? Then do the one with the highest value. Simple!

If you go down that road, you will soon come to realise that there are other factors you need to consider, such as dependency order, mitigating risk etc.

Cost of Delay

Then I started to learn about Cost of Delay (CoD) as a way for economic prioritisation as defined by Don Reinstein. However, if I am honest, it is a fantastic theory but the complexity makes it challenging to find a starting point.

However, when I was being trained as SAFe Scaled Program Consultant by Dean Leffingwell he introduced the concept of WSJF and I thought ‘wow, this is great’. His use of a proxy model for CoD seemed inspired. The 3-part proxy in SAFe seemed simple enough to enable people to begin.

The final breakthrough came at the SAFe Leadership Retreat when Mark demonstrated his simulation for WSJF. Not only do we now have a great proxy model, but we now also have a great learning tool for people to understand the theory and, moreover, apply it!

If you are interested in running the simulation, which takes about an hour to complete, please contact Darren at

Community developments

We are grateful to Martin and Lucy Burns for organising the Retreat and bringing us together as a community. Radtac are excited about the next retreat when we further share and strengthen our community.

Key points learnt from the retreat were?

  • SAFe 4.0 is due for release later in 2015

    a) SAFe 4.0 will combine SAFe and SAFe SLE

    b) Kanban will be included at the team level

  • Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) was discussed in detail
  • The Cost of Delay proxy model simulation was described in detail

Radtac Consulting

Radtac Consulting are able to enable organisations like yours to adapt quickly to change by supporting the uptake of new ways of working. We are at the leading edge of developments in agile as can be seen by our attendance at the SAFe Leadership Retreat and bring our experts to bear on the challenges faced by your business.

We help you get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.


Contact us today to speed your agile development.

Images source: SAFe Leadership Retreat & Personal archives


Darren Wilmshurst

Darren Wilmshurst

With his strategic C-suite-oriented approach to IT leadership – and his infectious energy – Darren has successfully delivered multi-million pound business transformations for e-commerce sites, ERP implementations, outsourcing and offshoring, including multiple Agile transformations. Read more