Project Management

Disciplined Agile

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

About this Blog


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Tatsiana Balshakova
Mark Lines
Mike Griffiths
Scott Ambler
Bjorn Gustafsson
Curtis Hibbs
James Trott

Past Contributors:

Joshua Barnes
Michael Richardson
Daniel Gagnon
Valentin Tudor Mocanu
Kashmir Birk
Glen Little
Klaus Boedker

Recent Posts

DA 5.6 is released

Disciplined Agile 5.5 Released

Choose Your WoW! Second Edition Is Now Available

Requisite Agility applied in Project Management

Disciplined Agile and PMBoK Guide 7th Edition

Evolving Disciplined Agile: Guidelines of the DA Mindset

The Disciplined Agile Mindset

In the recent release of Choose Your WoW! we have evolved some aspects of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit.  One of the things we evolved is how we communicate the DA mindset (pictured above). The guidelines help us to be more effective in our way of working (WoW) and in improving our WoW over time. In this blog posting we explore the eight guidelines:

  1. Validate our learnings. The only way to become awesome is to experiment with, and then adopt where appropriate, a new WoW. In guided continuous improvement (GCI) we experiment with a new way of working and then we assess how well it worked, an approach called validated learning. Being willing and able to experiment is critical to our process-improvement efforts. 
  2. Apply design thinking. Delighting customers requires us to recognize that our aim is to create operational value streams that are designed with our customers in mind. This requires design thinking on our part. Design thinking means to be empathetic to the customer, to first try to understand their environment and their needs before developing a solution. 
  3. Attend to relationships through the value stream. The interactions between the people doing the work are what is key, regardless of whether or not they are part of the team. For example, when a product manager needs to work closely with our organization’s data analytics team to gain a better understanding of what is going on in the marketplace, and with our strategy team to help put those observations into context, then we want to ensure that these interactions are effective. 
  4. Create effective environments that foster joy. Part of being awesome is having fun and being joyful. We want working in our company to be a great experience so we can attract and keep the best people. Done right, work is play. We can make our work more joyful by creating an environment that allows us to work together well. 
  5. Change culture by improving the system. While culture is important, and culture change is a critical component of any organization’s agile transformation, the unfortunate reality is that we can't change it directly. This is because culture is a reflection of the management system in place, so to change our culture we need to evolve our overall system. 
  6. Create semi-autonomous self-organizing teams. Organizations are complex adaptive systems (CASs) made up of a network of teams or, if you will, a team of teams. Although mainstream agile implores us to create “whole teams” that have all of the skills and resources required to achieve the outcomes that they’ve been tasked with, the reality is that no team is an island unto itself. Autonomous teams would be ideal but there are always dependencies on other teams upstream that we are part of, as well as downstream from us. And, of course, there are dependencies between offerings (products or services) that necessitate the teams responsible for them to collaborate.
  7. Adopt measures to improve outcomes. When it comes to measurement, context counts. What are we hoping to improve? Quality? Time to market? Staff morale? Customer satisfaction? Combinations thereof? Every person, team, and organization has their own improvement priorities, and their own ways of working, so they will have their own set of measures that they gather to provide insight into how they’re doing and, more importantly, how to proceed. And these measures evolve over time as their situation and priorities evolve. The implication is that our measurement strategy must be flexible and fit for purpose, and it will vary across teams. 
  8. Leverage and enhance organizational assets. Our organization has many assets—information systems, information sources, tools, templates, procedures, learnings, and other things—that our team could adopt to improve our effectiveness. We may not only choose to adopt these assets, we may also find that we can improve them to make them better for us as well as other teams who also choose to work with these assets. 

These guidelines are described in greater detail in chapter 2 of Choose Your WoW!.  


Free Downloads

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

Posted by Scott Ambler on: April 30, 2020 10:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Evolving Disciplined Agile: The DA Mindset

Disciplined Agile Mindset

As I posted recently, the new version of our book Choose Your WoW! is now available.  With this new release we have evolved the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, and one of the things that we have updated is our approach to describing the DA Mindset.  In this blog posting I overview our previous approach to describing the DA mindset and then describe our new strategy, which is summarized in the diagram above.

Our Previous Approach to Describing the DA Mindset

Until recently, we described the DA mindset as the combination of the DA Principles and the DA Manifesto.  The DA Manifesto in turn was described in terms of five values and 17 principles behind the manifesto.  The DA Manifesto was based on the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, or more colloquially known as the Agile Manifesto.  

Three issues motivated us to move away from this approach:

  1. It was a bit confusing given that there were two levels of principles. We had originally developed the DA Manifesto in 2010 to reflect our belief that the Agile Manifesto wasn't sufficient for enterprise-class software development, let alone to support business agility. Over the years we evolved the DA Manifesto to reflect our learnings. Then around 2015 we found that we needed a layer above the DA Manifesto to capture key aspects of the DA mindset with respect to business agility, hence the DA principles.  At this level the term principles made the most sense, even though the DA Manifesto had principles at a lower level.  
  2. The Agile Manifesto was too constraining. The Agile Manifesto was written in 2001.  While it was an incredibly important milestone for both the software world and now the business world, we've found that we need a more robust strategy.  We've also found that some people struggle with why we would even need to extend the Agile Manifesto at all, or wanted to extend it in different ways, and we've grown tired of debating various nuances of the various extensions. It is time to move on.
  3. FLEX proved that a different approach works.  When PMI decided to merge Al Shalloway's FLEX into DA one of the benefits was that we are able to benefit from Al's deep experience and thinking that is encapsulated in FLEX. The mindset behind FLEX wasn't based on the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto but instead on concepts based on lean and flow.  Al had approached the same problem from a different direction and had found a different way to communicate very similar concepts.  So we worked it through and developed our new approach.


Our New Approach to Describing the DA Mindset

Our new approach to describing the DA Mindset is straightforward: We believe in these 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.

We will soon be updating DA pages on and the Disciplined Agile courseware to reflect the changes being described in this blog series.  Our strategy is to let the books lead, in other words we update the relevant book and then shortly afterwards we release updates to related material.  

Future postings in this series explore the principles, promises, and guidelines behind the DA Mindset in greater detail.  


Free Downloads

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

Posted by Scott Ambler on: April 20, 2020 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

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