Considering to buy the book SAFe Distilled from Dean Leffingwell and Richard Knaster? Read this short review to help you decide if it is worth your time and money!
Table of Contents
In a Nutshell…
SAFe 5.0 Distilled is a 260+ pages book which I personally finished to read in early April 2022. The read took me around 3 weeks with daily reads between 20 to 30 minutes. Overall, the read is easy if you have already exposure to SAFe, possibly not so easy if you never heard about SAFe earlier.
Prior reading SAFe 5.0 Distilled, I had read Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) from Bas Vodde and Craig Larman. LeSS is a scaling framework similar in some ways to Essential and Large Solution configuration in SAFe. I enjoyed reading that LeSS book immensely.
Would I say the same about SAFe 5.0 Distilled?
Unfortunately no, not really… The book tells you a lot about the what, a bit about the why and nothing about the how i.e. the actual implementation, the pitfalls, tips and how to make SAFe works properly. My expectations when I bought SAFe 5.0 Distilled was to deepen my understanding of SAFe and why some recommended practices will work over others as well as warning and practical implementation tips.
This is exactly what I got when going through the LeSS book – clear explanations on the framework, why it was set up this way and learning points/recommendations. That book comforted my actual learnings in scaling Agile (Scrum actually) and also opened new perspectives and practical tips to try out. This is absolutely NOT what I got with SAFe 5.0 Distilled. The book itself feels like a collection of the SAFe articles available on the Scaled Agile Framework website with no interactive and less content basically.
Hence, I would not recommend to buy the book to ANYONE unless under a specific condition.
- If you want to know which one, read on.
- If not, I urge you to take my advice and you will save time and money!
I started my Agile journey in 2015 with a Certified Scrum training delivered by Jeff Sutherland himself (the co-creator of Scrum, author of numerous books). I got hooked, started to read more about Scrum and implemented it in my team within a few weeks. I also looked to increase my Agile knowledge with other certificates such as the Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) among others.
In 2018, I discovered SAFe as one department in my company started to use it. Wanting to know more, I went for the Implementing SAFe training as it could give me the opportunity to train others on the framework. After that 4 days SAFe training, I could say that I was actually confused in some ways and had issues to grab and understand the huge amount of knowledge and information proposed by SAFe.
After a few months of practice, I started to train others on SAFe and this is where I started to understand more about it. The reason? Not every aspect of SAFe is covered in one training as the body of knowledge is contained is actually massive and keep on growing on a monthly basis. Connections between the concepts are also not necessarily properly done or detailed. Example: Scrum is only 3 slides in a Leading SAFe training while a proper Scrum training in itself is 14 hours!
Fast forward a few years later, I have 7 years of exposure of Agile exposure and 4 years of scaling experience with teams range of 20+ to 80+ people. I read, document and practice on the various scaling frameworks available – see some of them here.
The more I get to understand scaling, the less I think SAFe – especially the essential and large configurations – are the best fit for companies looking to live and do “Agile”.
After having said all of that, here would be my recommendations based on the assumption that you already know or have exposure to Scrum:
- If you have to scale Scrum to build a product and have no exposure to scaling frameworks, Large Scale Scrum: More with LeSS is a way MUCH better buy than SAFe 5.0 Distilled.
- If you want to learn about SAFe in general, a Leading SAFe course or going through a few SAFe presentation videos is a better investment of your time. It is expensive but will be time better invested.
- If you are already exposed to SAFe and want to deepen your understanding of it, then going through the SAFe website articles is a much better use of your time and will save you money….
- Finally, if you are looking to pass a SAFe exam after a SAFe course, then this is where the book can be helpful and that would be my only recommendation to buy this. Going through the website to prepare the exam may be a dauting task for some while going through the book offers a more structured approach.
Check out our latest blog posts