Project Management

Disciplined Agile

by , , , , , , , , ,
This blog contains details about various aspects of PMI's Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, including new and upcoming topics.

About this Blog

RSS

View Posts By:

Scott Ambler
Glen Little
Mark Lines
Valentin Mocanu
Daniel Gagnon
Michael Richardson
Joshua Barnes
Kashmir Birk
Klaus Boedker
Mike Griffiths

Recent Posts

The Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE) Layer

Disciplined Agile (DA)'s Value Streams Layer

The Disciplined DevOps Layer

Would you like to get involved with the 20th Anniversary of Agile?

The Four Layers of the Disciplined Agile Tool Kit

The Disciplined Agile Foundation Layer

Disciplined Agile Foundation Layer

The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit is organized into four layers: Foundation, Disciplined DevOps, Value Streams, Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE).  This blog focuses on the Foundation layer, the purpose of which is to provide the underpinnings of the DA tool kit.  The foundation layer itself is organized into four distinct topics:

  1. The DA mindset
  2. Fundamental concepts
  3. People
  4. Choosing your WoW

 

The DA Mindset

The Disciplined Agile (DA) mindset is captured in the form of principles, promises, and guidelines. Disciplined agilists believe in the DA principles, so we promise to adopt these behaviours and follow these guidelines when doing so. There is a purpose for each aspect of the mindset:

  • Principles. The principles provide a philosophical foundation for business agility. They are based on both lean and flow concepts.
  • Promises. The promises are agreements that we make with our fellow teammates, our stakeholders, and other people within our organization whom we interact with. The promises define a collection of disciplined behaviours that enable us to collaborate effectively and professionally.
  • Guidelines. These guidelines help us to be more effective in our way of working (WoW) and in improving our WoW over time.

The Disciplined Agile Mindset

 

Fundamental Concepts

Disciplined Agile (DA) is a hybrid in that it adopts ideas and strategies from a wide range of sources. DA encompasses three categories of fundamental concepts:

  1. Agile. Agile is both a mindset and a skillset. As a mindset Agile is the manner in how you look at your environment; it is the desire to collaborate with and to learn from others; and it is the willingness to share your skills and knowledge with others.  As a skillset Agile varies based on the domain in which you operate.  For example, an agile skillset for a marketing professional may include experimental strategies such as minimum viable products (MVPs) and marketplace sensing strategies, whereas an agile skillset for a software professional may include test-driven development (TDD) and chaos engineering techniques. Agility is the ready ability to move with quick and easy grace to respond to changes in your operating environment.  
  2. Lean.  Lean produces value for customers quickly through a focus on reducing delays and eliminating waste which results in increased quality and lower cost. Lean philosophies and strategies infuse DA, and in fact much of the DA mindset reflects lean thinking. This includes ideas such as optimizing flow, making all work and workflow visible, keeping workloads within capacity, and attending to relationships throughout the value stream to name a few. 
  3. Serial. DA adopts great ideas from serial - often referred to as traditional, waterfall, or even predictive - ways of working (WoW). There are many strategies and concepts from the past which are critical to our success in the future, and DA chooses to leverage them where they make sense. For example, DA's project-oriented lifecycles have explicit, named phases which are clearly serial in nature. DA recognizes that inception efforts, sometimes called  project initiation or simply initiation activities, such as initial planning, initial scoping, and initial design can be critical to your success.  These efforts are very different than the construction/realization efforts that happen after this, and different yet again than the transition/delivery efforts that then follow, and different again than the operational efforts that bring actual realized value to your customers.

 

People

The people portion of the Foundation layer addresses two key aspects of agility:

  1. Roles (and responsibilities). The DA tool kit captures a wide range of roles that people may fill.  This includes common agile roles such as Team Lead/Senior Scrum Master, Product Owner, Architecture Owner, and others.  It also includes function-specific roles such as Program Manager, Financial Specialist, Governor, Security Engineer, Sales Manager, and many others.  All of these roles have associated responsibilities, and of course there are common rights and responsibilities that everyone has.
  2. Teams. Every team is unique and faces a unique situation.  As a result, DA supports several team structures which your teams can adopt and evolve to meet their needs.  There are suggested structures for small, medium, and large (program) teams.  There are team structures that support geographic distribution.  There are team structures that support learning teams such as communities of practice (COPs)/guilds and centres of excellence (CoEs), and structures that support common services teams.

 

Choosing Your WoW

A fundamental philosophy of agile is that teams should own their own process, or as we like to say in Disciplined Agile (DA) teams should choose their way of working (WoW). Of course this is easier said than done in practice. The challenge is that every team is unique and faces a unique situation – in other words, context counts. Furthermore, there are no “best practices,” rather, every practice has tradeoffs and works well in some situations and poorly in others. Worse yet, you really don’t know how well a technique will work for you until you actually try it out in your environment. Given all of this, how can a team choose its WoW?

While working with organizations to help them to learn how to improve their WoW, we’ve developed a technique that we call guided continuous improvement (GCI). GCI extends the kaizen-based continuous improvement approach, where teams improve their WoW via small incremental changes, to use proven guidance to help teams identify techniques that are more likely to work in their context. This increases the percentage of successful experiments and thereby increases your overall rate of process improvement.

Posted by Scott Ambler on: July 29, 2020 12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

The Team Lead Role: Different Types of Teams Need Different Types of Leaders

We are often asked why Disciplined Agile (DA) has a team lead role instead of  Scrum master or project manager.  The answer is three-fold: different types of teams require different types of leaders, leadership responsibilities vary based on the type of team they are leading, and DA strives to be agnostic wherever possible.  Let's explore the implications of this strategy.  

Team lead is what is known as a meta role.  What we mean by this is that there are different types of team lead depending on the situation, as depicted in Figure 1.  Think of team lead as a place holder for a more specific type of lead.  So, a scrum master is a team lead of a Scrum team, a project leader is a team lead of a project team, a sales manager is a team lead of a sales team. At times, the team will choose to stick with the name “team lead” for the role due to their way of working best fitting that description. 

Figure 1. Types of team leads.

Disciplined Agile Team Lead Role

As I said above, there are three reasons for taking this approach with the team lead role:

  1. Different teams require different types of leads.  A Scrum team needs a scrum master, or better yet a senior scrum master, as team leader. Similarly, a project team needs a project manager or project leader.  A finance team or a sales team need a function manager such as a chief financial officer or a sales manager respectively as the team lead. Each type of team needs a team lead that is fit for purpose. Because all these teams (and many more) are part of Disciplined Agile, we cannot prescribe a single type of team lead.  
  2. Leadership responsibilities will vary across teams. The responsibilities of team leads will vary depending on the type of team they lead. For example, when leading a team a project manager takes on different responsibilities compared to a scrum master.  Similarly, a sales manager leading a team would have responsibilities around educating business leaders on the sales strategy that a project leader typically wouldn't have.   
  3. Being agnostic.  Let’s imagine for a moment that it made sense to have a single set of responsibilities for the team lead role. Which one should it be? Adopting the scrum master role would only fit Scrum teams. Similarly, adopting the project manager role would only fit project teams. In the end, either choice ends limiting the applicability of the Disciplined Agile tool kit. Remember that DA is a hybrid approach that opens your options by combining great ideas from a wide range of sources: some agile, some lean, and some traditional. Ultimately, leading teams appropriately to a better way of working.  

The end result is that you may see some DA teams with a senior scrum master as the team lead, some DA teams with a project leader as a team lead, some DA teams with a functional leader in the role of team lead, and some teams with someone who is simply the team lead. Just like your way of working (WoW) should be fit for purpose, so should your approach to roles and responsibilities.

Posted by Scott Ambler on: July 07, 2020 09:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Disciplined Agile is a Hybrid

Categories: Hybrid, Tool kit

The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit has always been a hybrid of great strategies from the very beginning, with the focus being on how all of these strategies fit together in practice. In the current release of DA we made its hybrid nature explicit when we refactored the foundation, depicted in Figure 1, into its own layer.  You can see this in that we clearly indicate that Agile, Lean, and Serial (traditional) strategies are all foundational aspects of DA.

Figure 1. The foundation of DA is fundamentally hybrid in nature.

Disciplined Agile is a hybrid

We like to say that DA does the heavy process lifting so that you don’t have to. We’ve mined the various methods, frameworks, and other sources to identify potential practices and strategies that your team may want to experiment with and adopt. DA puts these techniques into context, exploring fundamental concepts such as what are the advantages and disadvantages of the technique, when would you apply the technique, when wouldn’t you apply the technique, and to what extent would you apply it? Answers to these questions are critical when a team is choosing its way of working (WoW). Figure 2 shows that DA is a  hybrid tool kit that puts great ideas from PMBOK Guide, Scrum, SAFe, Spotify, Agile Modeling (AM), Kanban, and several other methods into context.  


Figure 2. Some of the process sources leveraged by DA.

Some of the DA process sources

DA has taken this approach because no framework, no book of knowledge (BoK), is complete.  For example, XP is the source of technical practices such as test-driven development (TDD), refactoring, and pair programming but has nothing to say about project management.  The PMBoK Guide has great strategies for project managers, but has nothing to say about data analytics.  The Agile Data (AD) method has great strategies for creating and evolving data sources but has nothing to say about organizing agile teams. Scrum offers great strategies such as product backlogs, sprint/iteration planning, and daily coordination meetings for organizing agile teams but has nothing to say about documentation strategies.  Agile Modeling gives us model storming, architecture envisioning, and continuous documentation strategies but has nothing to say about governance.  You get the point.

Each framework, each BoK, has its specific focus and thus is not sufficient on its own. The upside is that there are great strategies presented by each, often in great detail.  The downside is that each source is locally optimize, they are inconsistent with one another, and there is very little advice for how to integrate these sources.  This is where DA steps in - DA is hybrid that combines and puts these great ideas into context, providing advice for how to apply them effectively when you choose your WoW

Posted by Scott Ambler on: July 07, 2020 09:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

HONESTY


This is the sixth and final part series that examines and explores how we might be able to use our personal and professional values the shape the future.

In today’s blog we will explore HONESTY.  

Please share what are your perspectives on honesty. How do you apply it to lead and create the future.

The PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct describes honesty as follows:

“Honesty is our duty to understand and act in a truthful manner both in our communications and in our conduct”

https://www.pmi.org/about/ethics/code

Take a blank page and write out in your own words what HONESTY means to you? Write out why it is important.

Reflect on how the power of honesty can be used as a tool to shape your journey through the new realities of our post-covid-19 world.

Honesty is more than not telling lies, it is doing what is moral and just. Being honest means having integrity, a moral compass, being trustworthy, not spreading rumors, not saying one thing behind people’s backs and then being different in front of them. Honesty is not telling people what we think they want to hear so that they will like us and provide us with favors and opportunities. This is a passive form of dishonesty.

Honesty means being who we say we are, saying what we will do and doing what we said, it means following through on our commitments.

Honesty means being open to both positive and negative feedback. It is surprising how many people do not know how to take compliments or hearing positive things about themselves. And equally how many people only hear what they want to hear, filtering out things that are negative or uncomfortable.

  • How often do you ask others for feedback and really listened?
  • How do you respond to negative feedback or criticism?
  • How do you deal with people who are stating half-truths?
  • How do you feel when you know you have told a lie?
  • How do you feel about challenging people with uncomfortable truths?

The future is wide open, waiting for us to create it. What do you want to do with it?

How are you going to use your HONESTY to create the future of your family, your work and your relationship with yourself?

There are many things that we cannot choose in life, but our most important choices of all, who we are, how we show up, what we stand for and how we create the future through our values – these choices are in our complete control.

Please share in your comments your thoughts on the importance of values, so we can all learn from each other.

How are you going to use HONESTY to create the future through the chaos and turbulence of your new realities?

 

Posted by Kashmir Birk on: June 23, 2020 10:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

RESPECT

RESPECT

This is the fifth of a six-part series that examines and explores how we might be able to use our personal and professional values the shape the future. In today’s blog we will explore RESPECT. 

Please share what are your perspectives on fairness. How do you apply it to lead and create the future.

The PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct describes respect as follows:
“Respect is our duty to show a high regard for ourselves, others, and the resources entrusted to us. Resources entrusted to us may include people, money, reputation, the safety of others and natural or environmental resources”

https://www.pmi.org/about/ethics/code

Respect means accepting ourselves for who we are.
Our relationship with ourselves sets the tone for all other relationship we have with other people, compliance, regulatory, legal, environmental and shareholder implications.

Respectful leadership means treating everyone, regardless of rank, status or position – with the same genuine regard and consideration, you would like them to give you.

Respect creates a culture of trust and openness. It encourages people to speak their minds and share hard truths in ways that are maintains the dignity and honor. We cultivate respect in the culture by expressing a genuine interest in others, providing recognition and positive feedback, noticing when people do great things, being open and transparent about what is going on, taking others concerns seriously, and ensuring that when people feel wronged, that action is taken to remedy the concerns.

How respectful are you?

  • How do you listen fully, without assuming you already knew what others are saying?
  • How do you avoid telling someone what they want to hear so they will like you?
  • How do you ensure every decision involves or takes into consideration the people it will affect?
  • How do you listen openly to people who disagree with you to see what they can teach you?
  • How do you respond to people who speak badly to you about other people behind their back?
  • How do you ensure financial prudence and removal of non-value-add costs and activities?
  • How do you take the effects on local communities and the environment into consideration?

When people say values cannot be measured, they have not been asked these hard questions.

The future is wide open, waiting for us to create it. How do you want to create it?

How are you going to use RESPECT to create the future of your family, your work and your relationship with yourself?

There are many things that we cannot choose in life, but our most important choices of all, who we are, how we show up, what we stand for and how we create the future through our values – these choices are in our complete control.

Please share in your comments your thoughts on the importance of values, so we can all learn from each other.

How are you going to use RESPECT to create the future through the chaos and turbulence of your new realities?

Posted by Kashmir Birk on: June 16, 2020 09:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
ADVERTISEMENTS

If you look at it, manure isn't such a bad word. You got the "newer" and the "ma" in front of it. Manure.

- George Costanza

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors

Vendor Events

See all Vendor Events