Project Management

Failure Bow: Choosing Between Life Cycles Flowchart Update

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Categories: FailureBow, lifecycle

An important part of agile culture is to be honest and forthcoming about your mistakes, so I'd like to share one that I've made in a key diagram that exists in both our Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master (DALSM) courseware and in the book Choose Your WoW!  This blog posting is my "failure bow" regarding mistakes that I made in the flowchart for how to choose between DA life cycles.

Figure 1 presents the original flowchart as it currently appears in the book and courseware.  Don't worry, we're in the process of updating both.  I'm writing this blog now because I want to make this update publicly available as quickly as possible to support people's learning journeys.  There are two problems in Figure 1:

  • The decision in the bottom right corner has two "yes" options coming out of it.
  • The decision in the bottom-right corner is poorly worded.

Figure 1. Choosing a DA lifecycle (original diagram).

Choosing a DA Lifecycle (original)


The update to the diagram is presented in Figure 2.  You can see that we've changed one of the Yes options to be No.  More importantly, we've reworded the decision point so that it's clearer.  We had several people point out that they didn't understand the original wording of the question about potential disruption.  I had written that question from the point of view of a team composed of people with a traditional background.  But, many teams now have an agile background, having gotten started with a framework like Scrum only to find it insufficient for their needs.  Such teams wouldn't be disrupted, at least not very much, by adopting the Agile lifecycle.  Thus we've reworked the question to instead ask about the team's agile background. 

Figure 2. How to choose a DA life cycle (updated).

Choosing a DA Life Cycle (updated)


An important point that I would like to make about the flowchart of Figure 2 is that this is the logic that we suggest you follow, but you may still decide to make other decisions.  For example, consider the decision point in the bottom-right corner.  You may be working with a team that is new to agile but still decide to adopt the agile lifecycle over the lean lifecycle because you're willing to invest in the time and expense of training and coaching them in agile ways of working (WoW).  Fair enough, that's your call.

I hope that this update has cleared up any confusion you may have had around this diagram.

Posted by Scott Ambler on: May 21, 2020 07:10 AM | Permalink

Comments (12)

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Thanks for fixing that minor defect, Scott - very timely too, as I'm delivering a DALSM workshop next week so will let the learners know to update their copies of the flowchart!

Thanks. I'm also going to update an older blog here on that works through the logic. When I do I will update this blog with a link to that one.

Magic of the Internet!

Incidentally, the first edition of the Choose your Wow book did not have the double 'yes' issue. Redoing the diagram for the current edition seems to have been where the mistake was made. But rewording the text as well was a good thing to do as part of this fix.

Does that mean you don't have automated regression testing for your CYW product, Mark :-) ?

Very interesting

Very interesting., thanks for sharing

It is still debatable ime/imo that if a Waterfall team could start with Lean or with Agile when the requirements are not change very often. Lean also suppose building the working software on short periods but not necessary with the iteration-like ceremonial and not necessary on similar intervals. The risk that I know with the Lean attempt in a such case is to persist with some Waterfall habits.

Valentin, you're right, when a team first starts to adopt lean they retain their existing habits. But over time, particularly with good coaching, my hope is that they will start to improve away from bad habits towards better ways of working (WoW).


Thanks for the updates. I updated this by pencil on Figure 6:14 on page 101 of my hardcopy of the WoW Book.


Great update as this was a source of confusion in my breakout during the DALSM class. This makes more sense, thank you.

Thanks Scott.
Is this the reason why the book is not available on
It says "Item under review"

@Ashraf, I'm not sure what is up to. They successfully shipped books to me last week.

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