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Evolving Disciplined Agile: Principles of the DA Mindset

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Evolving Disciplined Agile: Guidelines of the DA Mindset

Evolving Disciplined Agile: Promises of the DA Mindset

Evolving Disciplined Agile: Principles of the DA Mindset

Evolving Disciplined Agile: The DA Mindset

Categories: Evolving DA, mindset, Principle

The Disciplined Agile Mindset

In the recent release of Choose Your WoW! we have evolved some aspects of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit.  One of the things we evolved is how we communicate the DA mindset (pictured above). The principles provide a philosophical foundation for business agility.  They are based on both lean and flow concepts.  In this blog posting we explore the eight principles.  

  1. Delight customers. We need to go beyond satisfying our customers' needs, beyond meeting their expectations, and strive to delight them.  If we don't then someone else will delight them and steal our customers away from us. This applies to both external customers as well as internal customers.
  2. Be awesome. We should always strive to be the best that we can, and to always get better. Who wouldn't want to work with awesome people, on an awesome team for an awesome organization?
  3. Context counts. Every person, every team, every organization is unique.  We face unique situations that evolve over time.  The implication is that we must choose our way of working (WoW) to reflect the context that we face, and then evolve our WoW as the situation evolves. 
  4. Be pragmatic (reworded from Pragmatism). Our aim isn't to be agile, it's to be as effective as we can be and to improve from there.  To do this we need to be pragmatic and adopt agile, lean, or even traditional strategies when they make the most sense for our context.
  5. Choice is good. To choose our WoW in a context-driven, pragmatic manner we need to select the best-fit technique given our situation.  Having choices, and knowing the trade-offs associated with those choices, is critical to choosing our WoW that is best fit for our context.
  6. Optimize flow. We want to optimize flow across the value stream that we are part of, and better yet across our organization, and not just locally optimize our WoW within our team. Sometimes this will be a bit inconvenient for us, but overall we will be able to more effectively respond to our customers.
  7. Organize around products/services (new).  To delight our customers we need to organize ourselves around producing the offerings, the products and services, that they need. We are in effect organizing around value streams because value streams produce value for customers, both external and internal, in the form of products and services.  We chose to say organize around products/services, rather than offerings or value streams, as we felt this was more explicit.
  8. Enterprise awareness. Disciplined agilists look beyond the needs of their team to take the long-term needs of their organization into account.  They adopt, and sometimes tailor, organizational guidance.  They follow, and provide feedback too, organizational roadmaps.  The leverage, and sometimes enhance, existing organizational assets.  In short, they do what's best for the organization and not just what's convenient for them.

These principles are described in greater detail in chapter 2 of Choose Your WoW!.  In the next blog in this series we will explore the promises of the DA mindset.  Stay tuned!


Free Downloads

We have made several Disciplined Agile (DA) posters available to you for free download, including a Disciplined Agile Mindset poster.

Posted by Scott Ambler on: April 24, 2020 12:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (8)

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Thanks for the deeper dive into the principles! Are we likely to be changing from seven hexagons to some other graphical representation of the eight principles?

Very interesting., thanks for sharing

Kiron, great question. Yes. Moving forward we're reserving hexagons only for process blades.

Current incarnation of the rework of the principles slide is using a rounded rectangle for each principle (and promises and guidelines too, using the color scheme in the summary diagram above) and I suspect that will stick. But then again, our graphic artist may very well come up with a better idea.


Great post and summary for the principles. I just have one take on this:

I am always cautious while applying the principle of “Delight Customers” because there is a thin line between Delighting your Customers and Gold Plating and many think that delighting your customers is achieved by delivering more than what the client requested in terms of specs, quality, and so on.

Delighting your customers by providing exceptional service, and value delivery is key but delivering products that have additional features that were not required comes at a cost and I am not sure the client will be happy to pay for those costs and even though if those additional features were provided for free, the client might not be happy either as they might have something else in mind.

Long story short, I think there should be more clarity about how to Delight your Customers and make it clear that there is a difference between this and Gold Plating.

Just my 2 cents.

@Rami, fully agree. This is why the guideline of apply design thinking is so important. You need to work closely with customers, and potential customers for that matter, to gain an understanding of what they need. Otherwise you are likely to gold-plate.

The guideline Validate Our Learnings is also important so as to gain concrete feedback on whether we've delighted customers. Yes, sometimes we'll slip and gold-plate a bit, we're only human. But we'll soon detect that we have and then act accordingly if we've validated learning.

With the DA Mindset there is synergy between the principles, promises, and guidelines. You need to consider the whole, not just a single aspect of it.


The only thing that i can say , it's probably besides, Principles , Promises and Guidelines it would make sense add Ethics.
For me Ethics is the glue that bounds all this 3 pillars and is in fact a cornerstone of the Mindset.

But this is only a thought.

Alexandre Costa

@Scott, thank you for your feedback. Considering the whole is key, totally agreed.

Alexandre, that's an interesting observation. We'll have to think about that.

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"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore."

- Mark Twain