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Gaining Competitive Advantage with Strategic Themes

By Cheryl Crupi

We are excited to tell you about the new Strategic Themes article released today! For such a seemingly simple artifact, strategic themes play an absolutely critical role in SAFe. They help align strategy to execution and help ensure the portfolio’s value streams achieve the enterprise objectives.

Strategic Themes are a set of short, pithy statements that summarize critical elements of enterprise strategy that are relevant to a specific SAFe portfolio. As such, they can be difficult to define and document. But organizations that create well-formed strategic themes gain a significant competitive edge, so it is worth the investment to collaborate, debate, discuss and gain alignment on a well-crafted set of themes. This prompted us to take the opportunity to refactor this article and provide better guidance for defining strategic themes.

The new guidance in this article further clarifies the role strategic themes play in aligning execution to enterprise strategy. Equally importantly, it describes a model of portfolio strategy formulation, which results in strategic themes and value stream budgets, as highlighted in the figure below.

Figure 1. Portfolio strategy formulation aligns strategic themes with enterprise strategy (caption)
Figure 1. Portfolio strategy formulation aligns strategic themes with enterprise strategy (caption)

The article concludes by describing how strategic themes are employed by SAFe organizations to steer the portfolio and focus ARTs and teams on achieving business value.

With concise, actionable, and measurable strategic themes written in plain business language and OKR (Objectives and Key Results) format, you will have what you need to steer and track progress toward realizing real business value for your customers and your enterprise.


Cheryl Crupi and the SAFe Framework Team