Project Management

Difference between Scrum and Disciplined Agile Scrum

From the Manifesting Business Agility Blog
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This blog concerns itself with organizations moving to business agility—the quick realization of value predictably and sustainably, and with high quality. It includes all aspects of this—from the business stakeholders through ops and support. Topics will be far-reaching but will mostly discuss FLEX, Flow, Lean-Thinking, Lean-Management, Theory of Constraints, Systems Thinking, Test-First and Agile.

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Scrum is based on a few values, practices and empiricism.
DA Scrum (DAS) is based on Lean, Flow, ToC and science. While both can start out the same way, the flexibility of DAS is much greater. This is because Scrum uses practices in an attempt to achieve what principles tell us is good whereas DAS uses principles to drive results by helping us select the appropriate practices teams adopting it.

There is no question that Scrum can be a good framework when cross-functional teams and sprints are both advisable and readily achievable. It also provides discipline for those new to Agile. Scrum's practices are good because they reduce batch size, shorten feedback cycles and remove delays in workflow. But what if these two practices are hard to achieve? Scrum provides little guidance to transition to them or find equally valuable but more suitable solutions.

DA Scrum’s approach is to achieve the result Scrum attempts but by providing adopters the ability to do it in a way that works for them. This enables adopters of DA Scrum to do Scrum practices from the outset, create a transition path to them or adopt a different set of practices entirely.

Being locked into Scrum has many teams abandon Scrum thinking they can't do Agile.

Posted on: August 16, 2020 06:01 PM | Permalink

Comments (8)

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Thanks for this article Alan but I don't get the difference.
Scrum can be use in a very linear way (Lean, Flow, ToC...) or in a non-linear way (Agile) and it's based on complex systems theory science.
Is there another more explicit difference in the DA Scrum?

Two issues here. If you don't have iterations (using flow) it's no longer Scrum. I actually agree that you can do this, but Scrum proponents say that if you do this it's no longer Scrum. And this is kind of the difference.

Let's say you've got 3 teams that are moving an application from one platform to another. They don't see how to work in small chunks. So they intend to do about 2 months of work and then integrate. They don't see how they can use Scrum. Scrum tells them to do 2-week sprints but it's all or none - follow the practice.

The practice (iterations/sprints) provides time-boxing and encourages small batches of work and short feedback cycles - all good things. But if you can't get the practice working then its frustrating and most people trying to do Scrum won't be able to get there.

Now Lean doesn't prescribe practices but suggests using smaller batches and having short feedback cycles. Notice how we start with attending to the outcome not the method of getting there. If cross-functional teams and iterations are readily possible then the teams could start with them. But since they aren't, they have to do something else. So with Lean we'd ask how we could create shorter feedback cycles. Maybe we can't do 2 weeks, maybe we can't even do full integration across the teams. But perhaps we can do some integration and test after 4 weeks or so. This isn't just changing the iteration time - it's looking at what you can do and following principles instead of following practices.

Thanks for the info Al. One major difference or maybe I should call it advantage of DAS or Scrum is that DAS expands on scurm in the sense that it deals with pre-sprint activities including protfolio, program and others in addition to post print activities like transition so DAS provides you with a WoW from Start to Finish.

agreed. but the biggest difference is that DA is agnostic. What works can be used. Scrum provides discipline but it does at the cost of having a boundary around it you can't cross (its immutable roles, events, artifacts, rules - e.g., cross-functional teams and iterations). Scrum having this boundary and not providing a transition path to what it prescribes causes many of the failures people have when adopting it.

Totally, I fully agree with you. I called scrum "Being Agile in a strictly controlled envorinment".

Ok, let's dive a bit deeper.
Scrum, like described by the Scrum Guide, is explained as a simple set of rules and a very light set of roles. And, I have to admit that I struggle with the Scrum community on how Scrum is applied (very badly).
Regarding Flow: there is, in fact, flow within a sprint. In IT, the team has to be end-to-end and this allows the full coverage of the development by a single. One organizational consequence is the merge of Build and Run, DevOps and Full-stack developers. Again, I have to admit, based on my previous statement, very few are following that discipline.
Flow is often used in transactional work like support or shared services to understand how work is organised (classes of service in Kanban terms). Once you leaned it, your team is moving into a Kanban or a one week Sprint for Scrum. Yes, it is possible, you don't need to wait until the end of the sprint to deliver.
Multiple team levels with features and non-functional development are becoming more and more common. Yes, scrum doesn't explain it: release planning has bin removed I guess in 2010. But, the logic remains the same with one layer on the top for the Release or the Program. This is quite new and addressed by Scrum at scale or my own framework AO.
To understand the difference between Flow and Scrum, you have to understand the system's dynamics between both. Shortly, in Lean or Flow, the workflows to an individual and in Scrum it flows into a team. That makes all the difference regards to team dynamics, collective problem solving, etc... From a theoretical perspective, System Thinking (Lean and Flow) are following the paradigm that framework precedes data. Agile on the other hand, is a Sensemaking approach where data precedes Framework: collecting data and experiments let the solution emerge. That's why we have iterations.
Now, I must confess that reaching that Agile level isn't simple in the business context. Opening or shifting the paradigm needs to pass the whole organization into a certain number of constraints. And there, project management, discipline agile and Flow are very helpful.

Al, your note about the boundary in Scrum and Rami's "controlled environment" comment both add to my understanding here. I've been thinking about that in terms of key stakeholders and customers that may remain outside of the boundary during the project. Thank you.

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