Good But Not Good Enough (2023)

I recently took the SAFe SPC training, with instructors Jennifer Fawcett and Al Shalloway. My bottom line assessment is that it will be a marketing success, organizations trying it will see improvement, and some will see great improvement.

And I don't like it. SAFe isn't really Agile in its heart. It does have many good elements, which I'll talk about here. And I still don't like it. I'll talk about that as well.

Part of what kept me from going entirely negative on SAFe was Al Shalloway's contributions. His Agile values and approaches are quite good. That meant that his sections of the lectures, and his answers about what he'd do in real cases, shifted the balance from what I believe we'd have gotten from the other instructor alone.

SAFe contains many good elements, and if an organization actually did what it said, they would likely prosper and move more and more in a direction I consider to be "Agile". I think an organization taking up SAFe will receive some very valuable advice and will likely improve. They are, however, in grave danger of never really making it to Agile as I understand it.

Still, there are some things in SAFe that might well generate more improvement than Scrum alone. That's because Scrum chooses not to include elements that may be important to many projects, even to all projects. Scrum has chosen the path of being a simple but difficult framework. SAFe tries to provide many more answers. That can help. It can also be a serious problem.

The Good: Things to like about SAFe:

I'll talk here about what I like about SAFe, with comments regarding what "Scrum says" on those same topics. Even though I do like what's here, I'm not saying that "Scrum should say" things like this. I do think that Scrum teachers and proponents should say them, and that organizations using Scrum should know about these things and apply them.

Clear Definition of Levels

SAFe distinguishes three levels, portfolio, program, and team. Activities at this level are different, and SAFe describes fairly well how to hook them together.

We might prefer self-organization, but the SAFe breakdown isn't bad and parts of it are good. The advice may not be Pure Agile but it's Pretty Darn Good.

Scrum and Agile really don't offer much help at these levels, and large organizations have these levels or equivalents. Without guidance these levels are likely to be inefficient and to militate against Agile ideas. SAFe's guidance is better than no guidance at all.

Focus on Lean

SAFe explicitly incorporates ideas from Lean. It includes some excellent material on Lean Leadership, which provides for developing people, empowering them, and getting things out of their way.

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SAFe also calls directly for Value Stream Analysis, which is almost always a very powerful way to remove waste from the organization.

Scrum and Agile do not explicitly include these ideas. In fact some Scrum proponents have explicitly denounced them, in the belief that people will figure things out. People can benefit from help in figuring things out.

Portfolio Level

SAFe gives explicit advice on managing the portfolio, in particular in limiting WIP at the top level. It offers an approach to communicating about what needs to be done in terms of "Themes", leading to "Business Epics" and "Architectural Epics".

Scrum and Agile do not offer much help at these levels. Story cards in a lunch box or on a wall can actually work at the highest level, but they're not likely to be accepted even if they would. The C- and VP- and Director-levels want something more expensive and fancy, all too often.

Program Level

Large organizations often have many products that fit together into a "Program". Microsoft Office is a Program in SAFe terms, with products like Word and Excel inside it. SAFe provides a way for Product Management to work with Product Owners to work out what is to be done and get it into a Release Plan.

Scrum and Agile answers to how to do this often come down to "figure it out". SAFe provides a structure in which to figure it out. It's not the best that can be found, but it's not bad.

Develop on Cadence, Deliver on Demand

This rather nice concept captures the idea of building software in iterations, and shipping it when business conditions call for it. From the viewpoint of selling SAFe, it subtly suggests that you, the big powerful business person, can ship whenever you want to while the little programmers code away in their happy little two-week Iterations.

But in fact that's what you want to do. Build software that's ready to ship and ship it when you're ready. Some of the mechanism for doing this was not made clear to me. One big idea is the Release Train.

Release Train

SAFe develops "Potentially Shippable Increments (PSIs)" using a five-iteration "release train". (Unfortunately, they use the PSI term differently from Scrum, where the idea is to produce a PSI every Sprint.)

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The idea in SAFe is that multiple teams are on the same train and develop Stories (at the Team Level) which roll up into Features (at the Program Level) over five iterations. The last of these five is a "Hardening, Innovation and Planning" Sprint.

SAFe explicitly says "Hardening if necessary". Realistically it often is. Idealistically I'd like to push against it. And SAFe does push against hardening: The SAFe literature is pretty explicit in looking at three kinds of activity in Hardening:

  • Stuff you must do and can probably only do in hardening
  • Stuff you should be doing earlier but have to do in hardening for now
  • Stuff you absolutely should have done earlier and for which you're using the hardening sprint as a "waterfall crutch".

This is pretty solid advice. Generally, if you read the words in SAFe, there's a lot of pretty solid advice. I am concerned whether the advice will be found, read, and followed. Lots of the good bits are hidden inside, like very rare chocolate chips in a cookie.

Team Level

SAFe uses a version of Scrum at the team level, which they call ScrumXP because it includes specific "Code Quality Practices" adopted from XP. We'll visit the quality practices in a moment.

SAFe has some important differences from pure Scrum at the team level.

First, SAFe describes the development team as being made up of "devs and testers", rather than as fully cross-functional. It's not that they say it shouldn't be cross-functional, they just don't address it. Note, in an attempt at fairness, that their assumptions include a lot of business analysis up at the Program Level/ If you do that, there might be be less need for that kind of skill at the Team Level. Note also, however, that this reduces the opportunity for creativity at that level. This is not all good.

In fairness, SAFe's planning isn't all top down. The Program Level sends down big Features to the Teams, and the Teams parse these into smaller Stories, estimate them, and report back how much they can accomplish. There's a bit more than lip service given to the idea that the Teams still decide how much can be accomplished. It's still top-down and easy to misuse.

In our class, there was a great deal of pressure from our role-playing Product Owners, and from the Product Managers and the exceptionally forceful Release Train Engineer. Teams were pushed hard to bend over and accept the amount of work that "had to be done".

It was also the case, in our class, that the work handed down from the Program Level was incredibly poorly allocated across teams, almost guaranteeing serious dependencies and an inferior architecture. This despite the existence of an architect who was doing his best to come up with something sensible. In my experience, parsing work at the top of an organization almost inevitably leads to mis-allocation across teams, and always reduces the chance for creative solutions.

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The story from the SAFe instructors was that this mis-allocation simulated the kind of give and take, and the freedom that the Teams have to really sort out a good solution. With 20 people in the class, it was chaotic. With 100 or so, it would have been ... even more interesting.

Nonetheless, when you have committed to using a large group of developers, you do need to sort these matters out somehow. The chaos and top-down behavior we encountered should be compared to another real approach, not to an idealistic notion that you really should work with a smaller team or allow self organization. SAFe offers an answer: I'd like to see it compared with other answers.

Code Quality Practices

SAFe has Code Quality as one of only four core values. It explicitly recommends these practices, crediting XP for most of them:

  • Agile Architecture
  • Continuous Integration
  • Test-First
  • Refactoring
  • Pair Work
  • Collective Ownership

There's little doubt that these practices contribute strongly to the ability to build solid software over more than the short term. I am delighted to see a method come right out and recommend them. It's kind of unfortunate that it had to be SAFe to do it. I'm looking at you, Scrum.

The Bad: Things not to like about SAFe:

SAFe's Fundamental Assumption

SAFe's fundamental assumption is "You're large, therefore you need to 'scale', therefore organize like this and impose this approach." That turns out to be wrong.

First of all, you're probably not large, you're probably kind of biggish. If you're a Fortune 1000 company full of programmers, well, maybe. If you only have a few thousand programmers, probably not.

Second, most of your projects are not really very large. Most of them can be handled by a single Agile team, or a few Agile feature teams. All of these can be handled in the standard Scrum or Agile fashion, with an empowered Product Owner to guide them and a few joint meetings to keep coordinated.

Third, most of your teams may not really be Agile at all. Until all your individual teams can really do what Agile teams do, using all those XP practices that SAFe does wisely recommend, it's not time to start directing them with a large process. It's time to get them trained and experienced in doing software right. After they can do it, you'll find that most of them don't need all that top down large process after all. The large process is trying to compensate for the problem rather than fix it.

Fourth, most week to week and month to month planning doesn't require a large-scale top-down coordination effort. Yes, your Product Owners need to work actively with their colleagues, and with your Product Managers or other visionaries. But they're perfectly competent to work these things out without imposing a big process on them.

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Finally, many of your multi-team projects can turn into single team projects once you get your teams competent in really doing Agile Software Development. You don't need to build a big process because you don't have a big problem any more.

SAFe assumes that you need a big "solution" and then provides it. More than likely you don't need a big solution. You might need extra coordination and direction in a few areas. Get the teams all cross-functional and Agile, divide up the work accordingly, and then see what's next.

SAFe Isn't Really Safe

SAFe gives what may be sincere lip service to good Agile and Lean practice. These are things your organization should know, understand, and do. No doubt about that.

However, SAFe wraps those ideas in a package that is designed -- intentionally in my opinion -- to appeal to today's managers and executives who do not understand Agile, but who know they have a problem to which Agile may be the solution.

If everyone in the organization were to read the fine print in SAFe, then the organization might very slowly evolve to the level of effectiveness that real Agile provides. That's not going to happen. Managers and executives are too busy to read the fine print. They are too busy doing their job to study how to do their job. They will too easily fall into old patterns of management behavior, and when they do, SAFe will be installed in a fashion that won't just fail to support Agile, but that will suppress it.

Bottom Line

There is much to like in SAFe. I can't tell how cynically some of its advice is offered, but whether it is cynical or not, the nature of the target market is such as to work to reduce SAFe's effectiveness.

SAFe will be successful in the market. People will benefit. They just won't benefit nearly as much as they might if they set out to do things in a fashion that truly supports Agile Values and Principles.

SAFe is good. It's just not good enough. It provides some benefit, but endangers an organization's progress toward really high functioning. As someone who has been in the Agile movement since before it started, I do not like it. It's fast food. You can do better.


What is the feeling of not being good enough called? ›

Inadequacy is defined as the condition of not being enough or not good enough. Feelings of inadequacy are when we feel we're not good enough. These feelings generally have nothing to do with our actual performance or abilities in life.

What does good enough is never good enough mean? ›

In other words, “good enough never is; you're better than this”. The results of your efforts are not always immediate. This lesson of “persistence and always doing the best of which you are capable” is one I now try to instill in my own sons.

Is it common to not feel good enough? ›

Do you ever have times where you wonder, “Am I good enough?” If so, you are not alone. Experiencing feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, worthlessness, and just not feeling “enough” can be immensely challenging and painful.

Why do I feel like I'll never be good enough? ›

Feelings of self-worth may be tied up in upbringing, early relationships, and experiences. Toxic environments and the beginnings of depression can cause people to question their abilities as well feeling like an impostor.

What is Heliophobia? ›

Heliophobia is the Fear of the Sun and is an uncommon problem that may be more related to a sensitivity to bright light. On this Page: Heliophobia Symptoms. Heliophobia Treatment.

What is Cacophobia? ›

A person with cacophobia might fear all forms of ugliness or a specific kind, such as perceived ugliness in people, animals, places or objects. People with cacophobia can get very stressed or anxious when they think about or see something they consider to be ugly.

Why do people believe they are not good enough? ›

Sometimes we feel like we're not good enough because we're comparing ourselves to others who are in different circumstances. We may also be comparing our own weaknesses to another person's strengths. It's important to remember that everyone has their own unique journey.

How do you respond to am I not good enough? ›

18 Things To Tell Yourself When You Think You're Not Good Enough
  1. This too shall pass. ...
  2. No one can do better than you… ...
  3. This challenge will only make you stronger. ...
  4. Celebrate your failures; they are a lesson. ...
  5. You're good enough to try, and that's all you need to do. ...
  6. Progress trumps perfection, every time. ...
  7. You are not alone.
Dec 5, 2014

When someone says you are not good enough quotes? ›

  • “And above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. ...
  • “You've been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. ...
  • “It's a lie to think you're not good enough. ...
  • “I think the worst feeling in the world knowing that someone you used to talk to every day doesn't care about you anymore.” –
Jan 23, 2023

Why do I feel like I'm not here mentally? ›

Passing feelings of depersonalization or derealization are common and aren't necessarily a cause for concern. But ongoing or severe feelings of detachment and distortion of your surroundings can be a sign of depersonalization-derealization disorder or another physical or mental health disorder.

How do I stop feeling inadequate? ›

5 Ways to Cope with Feeling Inadequate
  1. Journaling. Take a moment to yourself and journal what you're feeling and thinking. ...
  2. Give yourself a pep talk. ...
  3. Practice meditation. ...
  4. Comfort yourself as you would want a parent or friend to do. ...
  5. Find a positive distraction.
Dec 23, 2020

What does it mean when you are never happy? ›

Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure. It's a common symptom of depression as well as other mental health disorders. Most people understand what pleasure feels like. They expect certain things in life to make them happy.

Why do I feel unworthy all the time? ›

Such feelings are often a common symptom of depression, but can also arise due to things such as low self-esteem, neglect, abuse, trauma, or difficult situations that pose a threat to a person's sense of self. Feeling worthless can create significant distress and make it difficult to function normally in daily life.

Why do I worry about not being good enough? ›

The fear of not being good enough doesn't mean you're actually not good enough; and there's definitely nothing wrong with you. You're probably afraid because: You've internalized feelings of self-doubt and self-criticism because of experiences you had as a child.

Is it normal to not feel happy? ›

Yes, it is totally normal to not feel happy at times even when life is going great. Everyone experiences highs and lows in life, and happiness isn't a constant emotion or state of mind. It can take time, effort, and self-reflection to understand what brings you true contentment.

What is Glossophobia? ›

What is glossophobia? Glossophobia refers to a strong fear of public speaking. It is a specific type of phobia, an anxiety disorder characterized by a persistent and excessive fear of an object or situation.

What does Nyctophobia feel like? ›

Nyctophobia is an extreme fear of night or darkness that can cause intense symptoms of anxiety and depression. A fear becomes a phobia when it's excessive, irrational, or impacts your day-to-day life. Being afraid of the dark often starts in childhood and is viewed as a normal part of development.

Do I have Frigophobia? ›

The symptoms of Frigophobia are very similar to other specific phobias and will often include: Avoid going out in the cold weather. Panic attacks. Inability to Relax.

Is pediophobia real? ›

Pediophobia is a fear of dolls or inanimate objects that look real, and pedophobia is a fear of actual children. People can suffer from both phobias, so someone who fears children (pedophobia) may also fear the childlike features of dolls (pediophobia), and someone with pediophobia may also have pedophobia.

What causes Frigophobia? ›

Those who suffer from frigophobia are not born with it. Rather, the fear was developed somehow from past unpleasant experiences back in childhood, at school, at work, or even from a social event. Some people might not even remember how it started.

Is pediophobia common? ›

Some people are so afraid of dolls, they cross over into phobia territory—but that's very uncommon. Pediophobia, the fear of dolls, doesn't really conform to typical types of phobia, such as those involving animals, natural environment, infections, or injuries, according to Wolizky-Taylor.

What is it called when you don't believe in good? ›

2 The literal definition of “atheist” is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,” according to Merriam-Webster. And the vast majority of U.S. atheists fit this description: 81% say they do not believe in God or a higher power or in a spiritual force of any kind.

How do you realize you are enough? ›

How to know that you are good enough
  1. Step 1: Face your fears. When you start asking yourself the right questions about why you're not feeling good enough, you'll find it's related to fear and anxiety. ...
  2. Step 2: Become accountable. ...
  3. Step 3: Re-focus on your goals. ...
  4. Step 4: Create a personalized plan.

How do I know I'm good enough? ›

You will feel refreshed. When you love yourself, you feel a sense of contentment inside you. You don't judge yourself anymore, and you embrace being compassionate towards your own self. You stop living rigidly; gone are the days when you punish yourself and compare yourself to others.

How do you make someone feel good enough for you? ›

How to Make Someone Feel Appreciated
  1. Be specific. What, exactly, are you thankful for? ...
  2. Include how they helped you. ...
  3. Make it personal. ...
  4. Thank them out of the blue. ...
  5. Give them something. ...
  6. Brag on them to someone else. ...
  7. Say it clearly: “You are appreciated.”
Sep 27, 2022

How do you know if you are not important to someone? ›

So here are some ways to tell your partner really doesn't view you as a priority in their life, according to experts.
  • They Rarely Text You Or Initiate Conversation First. ...
  • They Forget To Tell You About The Important Life Decisions They've Made. ...
  • They Never Invite You To Family Events.
Mar 26, 2018

Who said good is not good enough? ›

I can't help myself to quote my favorite movie star's tweet, Will Smith, in twitter 2 years ago: “Good isn't good enough when better is expected".

What are the signs of a mental breakdown? ›

feel overwhelmed — unable to concentrate or make decisions. be moody — feeling low or depression; feeling burnt out; emotional outbursts of uncontrollable anger, fear, helplessness or crying. feel depersonalised — not feeling like themselves or feeling detached from situations.

Is it normal to feel disconnected from yourself? ›

Many people have felt disconnected from themselves and their surroundings. But if these feelings arise regularly, you might have depersonalization-derealization disorder. At one time or another, all of us have found ourselves lost in our daydreams, thinking pleasant thoughts about our lives and our futures.

What does it mean when you feel disconnected from everyone? ›

Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and mood disorders can cause social withdrawal and isolation. Socialising can feel like a chore when you're struggling with your mental health, and it can be hard to be truly present with others when your mind feels messy.

How do I stop feeling so inferior and little? ›

To start to overcome your feelings of inferiority, try the following:
  1. Make fewer comparisons. ...
  2. Practice gratitude. ...
  3. Challenge your thinking. ...
  4. Don't rely on positive affirmations. ...
  5. Give yourself a chance. ...
  6. Practice mindfulness. ...
  7. Practice self-acceptance.
Aug 13, 2021

Why do I feel inferior to other people? ›

The main causes of inferiority feelings are personal experience, social interaction, love relationship, etc. People feeling inferior about their personal experiences usually are largely influenced by their ways of thinking and life attitudes.

How do you rise above feelings of inadequacy? ›

You're Enough: 10 Ways to Stop Feeling Inadequate
  1. Acknowledge your difficult feelings.
  2. Let go of unhelpful comparisons and set your own standards.
  3. Identify your strengths and assets.
  4. Keep growing.
  5. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
  6. Give yourself credit where credit is due.
  7. Practice positive self-talk.
May 20, 2022

What personality is never happy? ›

Narcissists are never happy. They are euphoric, elated, or manic - but never happy. Happiness is an amalgam of positive emotions. Narcissists have very few positive emotions.

How do I find happiness again? ›

14 Tips for Finding Happiness Again
  1. Consider therapy. ...
  2. Start or return to a hobby. ...
  3. Ditch (or time limit) your social media intake. ...
  4. Journal. ...
  5. Meditate. ...
  6. Spend time with happy people. ...
  7. Say goodbye to unhealthy people in your life. ...
  8. Do what you love.
Apr 26, 2022

What will make me happy again? ›

Strategies To Help You Feel Happy Again And Live A Fulfilling Life
  • Exercise Regularly. Exercising could be a powerful tool for improving your mood and reducing feelings of unhappiness. ...
  • Practice Mindfulness. ...
  • Get Enough Sleep. ...
  • Take Care Of Your Physical Health. ...
  • Cultivate Gratitude. ...
  • Engage In Positive Thinking And Affirmations.
Feb 27, 2023

Who said good enough isn't good enough? ›

Quote by Rick Rigsby: “Good enough is not good enough if it can be bet...”

What does good enough mean slang? ›

It means, “I'm good enough, I'm happy, grateful and enjoy who I am, how I am and where I am. AND (not 'but') I'm open to, excited for and want more… without needing more.”

What does the quote too much is never enough mean? ›

The meaning of the sentence is that a person with a lot of something will always want more. If you are rich, you want to be richer. If you have many cars, you want more cars. The meaning is about the desires and wishes of people.

What does the phrase good enough mean? ›

adjective. adequately good for the circumstances. “if it's good enough for you it's good enough for me” Synonyms: good. having desirable or positive qualities especially those suitable for a thing specified.

What is the law of good enough? ›

The principle of good enough or "good enough" principle is a rule in software and systems design. It indicates that consumers will use products that are good enough for their requirements, despite the availability of more advanced technology.

What is a sentence from good enough? ›

This hotel's good enough for me. I don't have to stay in a luxury hotel.

What is slang for extremely good? ›

Awesome is the most informal, and younger people are most likely to use it. Older adults are more likely than younger people to use outstanding, superb, and terrific. As an exclamation, speakers are most likely to use amazing, fantastic, or great as in, “That's amazing!”

What is better than good enough? ›

excellent – superior, best in its class, of the highest quality, making a person shout “Excelsior!” exceptional – uncommon, rare, and better for being so. exemplary – an example of high quality, a model for others. fine – delicate, exquisite, almost as good as it gets.

What does good enough mean psychology? ›

The principle of good enough suggests that you should identify the point past which putting more resources into something won't improve it in a meaningful manner, so you should finish with it and move on.

What is the quote too much of a good thing from Shakespeare? ›

And you know what I think? Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing? Come, sister, you shall be the priest and marry us.

Did Mark Twain say too much of anything is bad? ›

whiskey is barely enough.” – Mark Twain ...

What are some sayings about never enough? ›

We are never enough to ourselves because we can never be enough to another. Any one of us walks into any room and reminds its occupant that we are not the one they most want to see. We are never the one. We are never enough.


1. Nashawn Raines - Wasn't Good Enough (Official Music Video)
(Nashawn Raines)
2. Little Mix - Good Enough (Lyrics+Pictures)
(Fotini Kalai)
3. Good Enough
(Little Mix)
4. Valley - Good, but not together (live)
(This Is Valley)
5. POV: You were good, but not good enough | David Marvin
(The Porch)
6. I'm not good enough ✩ vent playlist


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