Viewing Posts by Scott Ambler
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.
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 four layers of the DA tool kit are:
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:
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:
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:
The people portion of the Foundation layer addresses two key aspects of agility:
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.
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.
As I said above, there are three reasons for taking this approach with the team lead role:
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.
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.
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.
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.