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Scott Ambler
Glen Little
Mark Lines
Valentin Mocanu
Daniel Gagnon
Michael Richardson
Joshua Barnes

Recent Posts

Failure Bow: Choosing Between Life Cycles Flowchart Update

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

Choose Your WoW! is now available

Categories: #ChooseYourWoW, book

Choose Your WoW!

We're happy to announce that our book, Choose Your WoW!, is now available via PMI Publications ($15.95 US for PMI members, $19.95 for non-members).  It is also available on Amazon in both print and digital format ($19.95 and $18.95 respectively).  Previous versions of the book were available only via Amazon.  

Choose Your WoW! includes an overview of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, but its focus is on the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) portion of the tool kit and how to choose your way of working (WoW) using DA.  

 

How Will This Affect DA Certification?

We are in the process of evolving the DA certification tests to be based on a combination of the material captured in the courseware and in Choose Your WoW!  Right now the test is based solely on the courseware.  When we have an exact date for when we intend to released the updated tests we will announce via normal channels.

 

What's New in Choose Your WoW!?

We've made several changes in this version of the book:

  1. Evolved the organization of the DA tool kit. This has mostly impacted Chapter 1 as that's where we describe DA. We recently wrote about how the DA Overview diagram has evolved and will follow with several other blog postings over the next few weeks. 
  2. Evolved the DA Mindset.  In the past the DA mindset was captured via the DA Principles in combination with the DA Manifesto.  We feel that it's about time that we unshackle ourselves from the Agile Manifesto, it has been 19 years after all, and refactor how we describe a Disciplined Agile way of thinking.  We reworked Chapter 2 to describe the mindset in terms of principles, promises, and guidelines.  We'll publish a blog about this soon.
  3. Updated many of the graphics. Our graphic artists reworked the diagrams contained throughout the book.  We hope you like the new style.
  4. Updated the cover.  We wanted a new look and feel to the book series that reflects the new PMI branding.  
  5. Fixed some spelling and grammar issues

 

Why Isn't This a Second Edition?

The changes to the DA tool kit had an impact on Section 1 of the book. The other sections, which are a reference for the process goals, were not impacted by this release of DA.  So we felt there wasn't enough of a change to warrant calling this book a second edition.

 

 

Posted by Scott Ambler on: April 17, 2020 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Evolving Disciplined Agile: Process Overview Diagram

Categories: Evolving DA, FLEX

Choose Your WoW! book coverWe have recently updated our book, Choose Your WoW!, which overviews the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit and provides a detailed description of the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) portion of it. Our primary goal was to bring the book into PMI publications so that we could offer it on PMI marketplace.  We also wanted to share with you the changes that we're making to the rest of the DA tool kit.  

In this blog I will focus on the changes that we've made to the DA Overview diagram.  Figure 1 shows the previous version of the diagram and Figure 2 our updated version.  When PMI purchased Disciplined Agile in August 2019 we had several streams of evolution underway at the time, all of which are reflected in Figure 2.  PMI also purchased Net Objectives so that we could merge their FLEX framework into DA, forming what has now become the Value Streams layer of DA.  Al Shalloway and I will go into more detail on this in future blog postings.

 

Figure 1. The previous Disciplined Agile overview diagram.

Disciplined Agile Overview - 2017

 

Figure 2. The new Disciplined Agile (DA) overview diagram.

Disciplined Agile Overview - 2020

In addition to modernizing the look of the diagram, you'll notice several important changes:

  1. We simplified the diagram.  We simplified the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) layer into a single process blade.  Figure 1 shows the six lifecycles supported by DAD, but we've consistently heard that this overcomplicates the overview diagram.  The lifecycles still exist but we're not showing them at this level any more.
  2. We've reworked the layers. The original layers (DAD, Disciplined DevOps, Disciplined Agile IT, and Disciplined Agile Enterprise) reflected the order in which the DA toolkit evolved.  The new layers are:
  • The Foundation layer is where fundamental agile and lean concepts; our evolved approach to the DA mindset that is based on principles, promises, and guidelines; roles; and team structures are captured.  This layer encompasses concepts and strategies applicable across your organization.
  • The Disciplined DevOps layer has pretty much remained the same, with the exception of the visual refactoring of the DAD layer into an explicit process blade.
  • The Value Streams layer is where we have merged FLEX into DA.  Very exciting things are happening here that we'll cover in future postings.
  • The Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE) layer encompasses the activities that support the value streams that your organization offers to customers.
  1. We've evolved some process blades.  Several process blades of Figure 1 have evolved:
  • Reuse Engineering has become Asset Management to better reflect common enterprise practice.  
  • Procurement has evolved into Vendor Management to reflect the full lifecycle of VM, not just the procurement portion of it.  
  • Program Management has been refactored, with a Program lifecycle being explicitly called out within DAD and Program Management itself elevated out of the software development space to address all aspects of Program Management (as per PMI's existing standard).  
  • DAIT, formerly a layer, has become the Information Technology (IT) process blade which focuses on the coordination of IT efforts across value streams.    
  • DAD is now a process blade rather than a full-fledged layer.  
  • Control was renamed back to Governance.  We had a lot of feedback that Control didn't reflect DA's lean governance philosophy.
  1. We've added some process blades. As you can see in Figure 2, we have introduced 3 new blades:
  • Research and Development, a critical aspect of an organization's capacity to innovate.
  • Strategy, to guide an organization over the long term.  We're adopting many great ideas from PMI Brightline.
  • Transformation, to guide you in organizational change.  We've combined great strategies from our own transformation practices (pre PMI) at Disciplined Agile Inc., those of Net Objectives, and the PMI Brightline transformation strategy.

 As you can see, there is a long list of potential blog topics to describe how DA has evolved, and continues to evolve.  Next up will be an overview of our updated approach to describing the DA mindset. Please stay tuned!

 

Free Downloads

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

Posted by Scott Ambler on: April 15, 2020 06:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

Disciplined Agile Certification Training Goes Virtual

Virtual training in Disciplined Agile

Photo credit: Umanix

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Disciplined Agile (DA) has always recognized that some teams work remotely and now, given the need to respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19, we are applying our own advice with our DA training offerings.  

Starting in early March we reworked our instructor-led training (ILT) offerings so that they can be delivered remotely by qualified instructors. In the picture above we see two Certified Disciplined Agile Instructors (CDAIs) from Umanix delivering the Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master (DALSM) certification workshop virtually.  As you might expect, the instructors are using video conferencing software to work through the courseware with the students, but there's much more to it.

The DA workshops have many hands-on exercises, both games and case study work, in which students collaborate to learn critical concepts and techniques.  In the bottom left-hand corner you see an exercise in which a group of students are in a breakout room and are working together.  In the face-to-face (F2F) version of this exercise students move cards around on a table and discuss their decisions as they go.  In the virtual version they move images around on the screen.  In both cases the instructor is observing and helping the students where necessary.  Once the group work is over the students then do a "wall walk" by going into each of the breakout rooms to see and discuss how other groups approached the problem.

We've been very lucky in that one of our DA Training Partners has been delivering DA training to globally dispersed teams for years.  They agreed to take the lead and share their experiences and techniques with our other training partners so that we can successfully bring DA training to you remotely.  In short, we've been in a position to apply proven remote training strategies so that your learning experience is the best that it can be.

Don't worry, DA Training Partners will still be offering face-to-face training once it becomes safe to do so again.  And we'll also continue with virtual workshops as well, because my gut tells me that we're going to have a lot more distributed Disciplined Agile teams in the future.

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Please visit Disciplined Agile Training to discover our current workshop offerings.

Posted by Scott Ambler on: April 07, 2020 08:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Videoconferencing Tips - How to Have Effective Calls

Teleconferencing tips

While face-to-face (F2F) collaborative work is often preferred, many of us now find ourselves in a situation where that may not be an option for the foreseeable future.  Recently many organizations have asked their staff to work from home whenever possible.  For those of us who have been working remotely for years this is business as usual, but for many of our colleagues this is a new situation.  We all need to get better at working remotely, and an important aspect of that is making teleconferencing calls effective.  So I thought I would share some tips that I've found to work well.

I've organized these tips into four sections:

  1. Joining a call
  2. During a call
  3. Organizing your environment
  4. Planning and facilitating a call

 

Joining A Call

The best calls are the ones that start well, and an important aspect of this is people joining the call well.  Here's what you can do:

  1. Join on time. When you are late for a call either making everyone else on that call wait for you or you interrupt the conversation when you do join.     
  2. Announce yourself to a small group. When your call is with a handful of people, and when you're on time to the call, then it's polite to join with a simple "Hi, Scott's here" or something similar. 
  3. Don't announce yourself to a large group. If the number of people on a call is large, and the limit for "large" in this case is likely 7 or 8 people, then announcing yourself as you join becomes an annoyance.
  4. Join on mute. We all hate it when someone is on a call and their background noise drowns out the conversation.  An important aspect of avoiding this is to join a call on mute so that you don't disrupt what is currently in progress. Once you're on the call, verify that you're muted. We've all seen people mistakenly think they're muted when they're not, so let's learn from that and start building habits to avoid these embarrassments.  
  5. Join with video turned on. We'd really like to see you!  A lot of information during a conversation is communicated visually, so bandwidth permitting it's preferable to have everyone turn their video on. You'll find that doing so will make your calls more interesting and valuable.

During a Call

It's the responsibility of everyone on a call, not just the person facilitating, to ensure that the call runs smoothly. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  1. Remain in the moment. I know it's hard, particularly if you spend a lot of time on calls, to remain focused on the current conversation.  We're all tempted to check email or multi-task in some other way to alleviate the boredom.  Then suddenly we realize we missed something important and either need to let it go or ask to have the information repeated to us.  
  2. Remain muted if you're not speaking. Sound quality is a critical success factor for calls.  Although it takes a bit of effort to turn the microphone on and off it can make a huge difference for the overall sound quality.  A nice side effect of this habit is that it helps all of us to remain in the moment.
  3. Dress like you're at work, because you are. We dress differently at home than we do when we go into the office. Although we're working from home and want to dress down we need to remember we're still working so should dress accordingly.  Yes, it's ok to loosen up a bit on your personal dress code when doing so, but recognize that there are limits.  My advice is to dress as if it's a "casual clothes" day at your office.  
  4. Go on mute.  I really can't say this enough.
  5. Introduce yourself when you talk. When you're on a call with people whom you infrequently work it can be useful to start with "It's Scott, I was thinking..." so that people can learn who you are.  Although most video conference software will indicate who's talking at any given moment you may have some people on the call who don't have a video feed, perhaps because they dialled in with a phone.
  6. Look into the camera when you speak. If this was a face-to-face (F2F) conversation you would very likely look people in the eyes when you're speaking.  The teleconferencing equivalent of this is to look into the camera.  This is harder than it sounds because it can be very tempting to look at yourself in the window showing your camera feed.
  7. Speak up.  We would really like to hear you.  An interesting side effect of looking into the camera when you're speaking is that you're very likely aligned so that your microphone can pick up what you're saying.
  8. Speak slowly.  We often find ourselves on calls with people who have different accents and who may not be fully proficient with English yet.  If you find yourself in this situation people will appreciate you making the effort to be understood by them.
  9. Did you remember to go on mute after speaking?  I keep repeating this point because it's an important habit to adopt.  
  10. Remember that others want to collaborate too. We want everyone on the call to participate where they can, which means we all need to recognize that we need to share the air time with others. 
  11. Be flexible. Many of us have kids, pets, and other family members who may choose to barge in during the middle of a call. It happens, and frankly can lighten up the mood in many cases. On that same note, none of us are perfect.  Sometimes we're late, sometimes we forget to go on mute (have I mentioned how important sound quality is?), sometimes we may not be perfectly groomed, and so on.

Organizing Your Environment

Think about the last time you were on a call, and you were looking at other people over the video feed.  You were probably assessing how they were groomed, how they were dressed, and what the state was of their work area is.

  1. Be aware of what's in the background. This can be hard to control, but do your best to tidy things up. 
  2. Point your camera directly towards you. This will make it easy for you to look directly into the camera when you're speaking and very likely present you in the most flattering light possible.
  3. Consider getting a headset. Although they can be uncomfortable at first, headsets can both improve the quality of the sound that you transmit and if you have noise-cancelling headphones easier for you to hear.  
  4. Be in a well-lit space. We've all seen people who look like they're working in a dungeon and that's mostly because of poor lighting.   Natural lighting is best if you can do it, and the easiest way to achieve that is to set up either near or better yet facing a window.  Otherwise you may need to arrange light sources so that they project towards you. 
  5. Test your equipment before the call. If you're new to teleconferencing, or you've changed your setup, you might want to consider doing a quick one-on-one call with someone to test if everything is configured correctly.  We don't want to force people to wait while we adjust our setup to get it working.  
  6. Familiarize yourself with the software. There are many teleconferencing packages available to us and they all work differently.  If the software is new to you, or if you haven't used it lately, watching a quick training video is likely a good idea.
  7. Be aware of the ambient noise. We've all been on calls where someone is dialing in from their car, from the airport, or from their local coffee shop.  The ambient noise is often worse than they think and it can be very distracting.  So you if you can't avoid calling in from a noisy environment then, you guessed it, go on mute as often as you can.  

Planning and Facilitating a Call

Nobody likes wasting their time on a call where nothing is accomplished.  Effective planning and good facilitation can go a long way to making a videoconferencing call successful.  

  1. Have an agenda.  People need to know why you are having the call so that they know what is expected of them.  Perhaps more importantly, they also want to determine whether they need to be on the call at all.
  2. Keep the attendee list short. Although this can be hard, I always try to identify who is required to attend, likely because they are actively involved in the topic of the call, and who is optional because they may need to listen in to be aware of what we're doing. 
  3. Prompt people to participate.  Some people are shy, particularly when they are new to videoconferencing.  So keep an eye out for this and occasionally ask someone who hasn't spoken lately if they have anything to add.
  4. Schedule time between calls. A courteous practice is to have a 5 minute "bio break" between calls.  The easiest way to do that is to adopt the practice of ending calls at :25 or :55 rather than at the bottom or top of the hour respectively.  
  5. Start on time. When I'm hosting a call I will typically start the software a couple of minutes before the call is scheduled to begin so that we can start immediately on time.  
  6. End on time. Many of the people on the current call may have something else scheduled, perhaps another call, immediately after this one.

One last bonus tip: You are welcome to copy the image at the top of this article and use it as a quick reminder list of the key tips in this article.  Print it and tape it to the side of your monitor if you like!

Please feel free to share this article with others or print it out so that you can keep it handy.  We’ve also put together a short tip sheet that you can tape to your monitor.

I would love to hear about any other tips you would have so that I can update this blog and share them with others.  Thanks in advance!

 

 

Posted by Scott Ambler on: March 23, 2020 05:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Examining the differences between DA and existing PMI materials

Examining

Since Disciplined Agile (DA) joined the PMI family in August 2019 we've gotten a collection of questions from people along the lines of "Why is there a difference between the advice in DA and PMI's advice?"  So I thought I would write a few blogs examining why that is.  This is the first.

There are several reasons why there are differences between existing DA and existing (non-DA) PMI materials:

  1. They were created by different groups of people.  It's natural to get different takes on a topic from different groups of people.   
  2. DA took on a broader scope than PMI traditionally has (until now). PMI has focused on project management and critical topics surrounding it such as program management, portfolio management, and governance (amongst others).  That is the scope that PMI chose to focus on and has frankly done a very good job at doing so.  The scope of DA, on the other hand, has been to address how to take an agile/lean approach to all aspects of an organization, including but not limited to management.  This is a much broader scope than what PMI has taken on, until now. As a result DA addresses marketing, finance, enterprise architecture, operations, governance, software development, and many other process areas that are important to modern organizations.  Why is this broader scope important to PMI?  Because all of these areas need to be managed/led and governed.  I believe there's an interesting implication there. ;-)
  3. PMI has traditionally gone very deep into management and the governance of management activities.  I'll let the great material in our standards and practice guides speak for itself. As Stan Lee was prone to say, 'Nuff said.
  4. DA has traditionally taken a more holistic view.  DA includes both what is being managed as well as the management/leadership of it.  For example, consider The Standard for Program Management Fourth Edition.  Where the existing PMI standard does a fantastic job of addressing the management aspects of a traditional program it doesn't go into critical "doing aspects" of programs such as how to address architecture, requirements, and quality activities (it does address planning and management though) for example.  This isn't meant to be a criticism of the standard but merely an observation - When we (PMI) developed the standard our focus, and once again rightfully so, was on management and governance.  It was not on the overall, holistic view of what occurs with a program.  With DA we choose to take a more holistic view, as do agile frameworks such as SAFeR and LeSS amongst others, and go beyond management and governance.  

My point is that there are very good reasons for the differences between what is in DA and what PMI has traditionally focused on.  These differences are an important aspect of the value proposition of DA for PMI, and more importantly for our membership, because we can learn from these differences and then improve and grow based on those learnings.  We're currently evolving DA based on the great material encompassed by the existing PMI standards and practice guides and our hope is that the existing PMI offerings will evolve to reflect Disciplined Agile ways of working (WoW) too.  

In the next blog in this series I will do a deep dive into the differences between DA's take on Program Management and the PMI Program Management Standard.  I suspect this will help to make some of the ideas in this blog more concrete and it will certainly make the opportunity before us a bit more explicit.

Posted by Scott Ambler on: March 08, 2020 08:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
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