For those of us who have been around the block a few times, the current Agile (SAFe) craze has a “use by” date according to a thin slice of history:
Kaizen in Japan
US Navy adopts Total Quality Management
UK government adopts PRINCE2
Business Process Reengineering (BPR) emerged and went gang busters
Six Sigma was popularised by Jack Welch at General Electric
Six Sigma merged with Lean manufacturing processes
Agile emerged from the software community
Prince2 Refresh 1
Business Process Management (BPM) succeeded BPR
The Scaled agile framework (SAFe) is a set of organization and workflow patterns intended to guide enterprises in scalinglean and agile practices.
According to its authors, SAFe is based upon ten underlying concepts, which are derived from existing lean and agile principles:
Take an economic view
Apply systems thinking
Assume variability; preserve options
Build incrementally with fast integrated learning cycles
Base milestones on objective evaluation of working systems
Visualize and limit work-in-progress, reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths
Apply cadence (timing), synchronize with cross-domain planning
Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers
Organize around value
Prince2 Refresh 2
Version 5 of SAFe released.
My money in on at least one more Prince2 refresh and a couple more versions of SAFe.
Where to from here?
The dominant cycles were Prince2 in the early noughties, then Six Sigma for 10 years and now it's all about Agile.
Generation Xers will have thrived (survived) through all of these knowing the world turns and the cynics smirk that history just repeats itself.
For 2025, I am wondering about this new concept called Dialogic Change (DC).
Dialogic change (use of dialogue) is thinking of organisations as networks of meaning-making, always in a process of becoming.
DC is useful for solving adaptive challenges and those wicked problems.
Gervase Bushe (professor at the Beedie School of Business) has numerous research papers, books and videos of dialogic change.
For those of us who have been around for a while we can speculate if dialogic change catch on.
Who knows? It is certain Agile will eventually be over-taken, or be replaced, or maybe re-emerge as SAFe-plus or extra-SAFe.
Lol. But, I wish it was funny. It could come true.