Project Management

Disciplined Agile

by , , , , , , ,
#ChooseYourWoW | #ContinuousImprovement | #Kaizen | #ProcessImprovement | Adoption | agile | Agile certification | agile transformation | Analogy | Architecture | architecture | book | Business Agility | Certification | Choose your WoW | CMMI | Coaching | Collaboration | Compliancy | Configuration management | Construction phase | Context | Continuous Improvement | COVID-19 | Culture | culture | DAD | DAD discussions | DAD roles | Data Management | database | DevOps | Discipline | disciplined agile delivery | Documentation | DW/BI | Enterprise Agile | Enterprise Architecture | Enterprise Awareness | Essence | estimation | Evolving DA | Experiment | Financial | GDD | Geographic Distribution | global development | Goal-Driven | goal-driven | goals | Governance | Guideline | Improvement | inception | Inception phase | Large Teams | layer | Lean | Lifecycle | lifecycle | Metrics | mindset | News | News and events | Non-Functional Requirements | non-functional requirements | Operations | Outsourcing | People | Philosophies | Planning | PMI | PMI and DA | Portfolio Management | Practices | Principle | Process | process improvement | Product Management | Product Owners | Program Management | Project Management | Promise | quality | Release Management | Requirements | requirements | Reuse Engineering | Risk management | RUP | Scaling | scaling | scaling agile | Scrum | serial | Support | Surveys | Teams | Technical Debt | Terminology | Testing | testing | Toolkit | Transformation | velocity | Workflow | show all posts

About this Blog

RSS

View Posts By:

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

Recent Posts

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

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

Disciplined Agile is a Hybrid

Viewing Posts by Scott Ambler

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

Agile20Reflect

Scott Seivwright is leading the #Agile20Reflect effort to reflect on 20 years of the agile movement. He has posted a call for help to organize Agile20Reflect.

He's looking for people to get involved who can help run things rather than argue and fight about various nuances. Given the Disciplined Agile strategy of embracing the various agile, lean, and even traditional strategies I suspect that some of you may be well suited to join in this effort.

And yes, I'm already involved.

Posted by Scott Ambler on: September 07, 2020 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Four Layers of the Disciplined Agile Tool Kit

Categories: Introduction, layer

Each business challenge is both unique to your situation and informed by traditional conventions. By using the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, you and your team can better understand how seemingly segmented activities - such as security, product management, portfolio management, solution delivery, and finance to name a few - can work together in a context-sensitive manner.

By understanding what these activities should address, as well as the tradeoffs associated with each, you can make more informed decisions for better business agility.  To help you to navigate the wealth of advice contained in the DA tool kit, we have organized it into a four layers as you see in the following diagram.

The Disciplined Agile Tool Kit

The four layers of the DA tool kit are:

  1. Foundation.The Foundation layer provides the conceptual underpinnings of the DA tool kit.  This includes the DA Mindset; foundational concepts from agile, lean, and serial/traditional ways of working (WoW); people-oriented issues such as roles, responsibilities, and teaming structures; and of course how to choose your WoW.
  2. Disciplined DevOpsDisciplined DevOps is the streamlining of IT solution development and IT operations activities, and supporting enterprise-IT activities, to provide more effective outcomes to an organization.
  3. Value Streams. A value stream is the set of actions that take place to add value to a customer from the initial request through realization of value by the customer. A value stream begins and ends with a customerThe value stream begins with the initial concept, moves through various stages for one or more development teams, and on through final delivery and support. It’s not enough to be innovative in ideas if these ideas can’t be realized in the marketplace or in the company. DA FLEX is the glue that ties an organization’s strategies in that it visualizes what an effective value stream looks like, enabling you to make decisions for improving each part of the organization within the context of the whole.
  4. Disciplined Agile Enterprise. A Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE) is able to anticipate and respond swiftly to changes in the marketplace. It does this through an organizational culture and structure that facilitates change within the context of the situation that it faces. Such organizations require a learning mindset in the mainstream business and underlying lean and agile processes to drive innovation.
Posted by Scott Ambler on: July 30, 2020 10:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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 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

Fundamentals of Agile, Lean, and Serial

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

Disciplined Agile Roles and Teams

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

Choose 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)
ADVERTISEMENTS

"It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech."

- Mark Twain