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.

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

Recent Posts

Disciplined Agile: An Executive's Starting Point

Using Lean Agile Procurement (LAP) in complex procurement situations

Vendor Management in the Disciplined Agile Enterprise

Asset Management: What Types of Assets Might You Manage?

PMI and Disciplined Agile at Agile20Reflect

What Does it Mean to Be Awesome?

Categories: Principle

Awesome - Getty Images

One of the principles of the Disciplined Agile (DA) mindset is to "Be Awesome."  Who doesn’t want to be awesome? Who doesn’t want to be part of an awesome team doing awesome things while working for an awesome organization? We all want these things. Recently, Joshua Kerievsky has popularized the concept that modern agile teams make people awesome, and, of course, it isn’t much of a leap that we want awesome teams and awesome organizations too. Similarly, Mary and Tom Poppendieck observe that sustainable advantage is gained from engaged, thinking people, as does Richard Sheridan in Joy Inc. Helping people to be awesome is important because, as Richard Branson of the Virgin Group says, “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.” 

There are several things that we, as individuals, can do to be awesome:

  1. Act in such a way that we earn the respect and trust of our colleagues. Be reliable, be honest, be open, be ethical, and treat them with respect.
  2. Willingly collaborate with others. Share information with them when asked, even if it is a work in progress. Offer help when it’s needed and, just as important, reach out for help yourself.
  3. Be an active learner. We should seek to master our craft, always being on the lookout for opportunities to experiment and learn. Go beyond our specialty and learn about the broader software process and business environment. By becoming a T-skilled, “generalizing specialist” we will be able to better appreciate where others are coming from and thereby interact with them more effectively.
  4. Seek to never let the team down. Yes, it will happen sometimes, and good teams understand and forgive that.
  5. Be willing to improve and manage our emotional responses to difficult situations. Innovation requires diversity, and by their very nature diverse opinions may cause emotional reactions. We must all work on making our workplace psychologically safe. 

Awesome teams also choose to build quality in from the very beginning. Lean tells us to fix any quality issues and the way we worked that caused them. Instead of debating which bugs we can skip over for later, we want to learn how to avoid them completely. As we’re working toward this, we work in such a way that we do a bit of work, validate it, fix any issues that we find, and then iterate. The Agile Manifesto is clear that continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Senior leadership within our organization can enable staff to be awesome individuals working on awesome teams by providing them with the authority and resources required for them to do their jobs, by building a safe culture and environment, and by motivating them to excel. People are motivated by being provided with the autonomy to do their work, having opportunities to master their craft, and to do something that has purpose. What would you rather have, staff who are motivated or demotivated?

Posted by Scott Ambler on: May 28, 2020 06:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Evolving Disciplined Agile: Principles of the DA Mindset

Categories: Evolving DA, mindset, Principle

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 principles provide a philosophical foundation for business agility.  They are based on both lean and flow concepts.  In this blog posting we explore the eight principles.  

  1. Delight customers. We need to go beyond satisfying our customers' needs, beyond meeting their expectations, and strive to delight them.  If we don't then someone else will delight them and steal our customers away from us. This applies to both external customers as well as internal customers.
  2. Be awesome. We should always strive to be the best that we can, and to always get better. Who wouldn't want to work with awesome people, on an awesome team for an awesome organization?
  3. Context counts. Every person, every team, every organization is unique.  We face unique situations that evolve over time.  The implication is that we must choose our way of working (WoW) to reflect the context that we face, and then evolve our WoW as the situation evolves. 
  4. Be pragmatic (reworded from Pragmatism). Our aim isn't to be agile, it's to be as effective as we can be and to improve from there.  To do this we need to be pragmatic and adopt agile, lean, or even traditional strategies when they make the most sense for our context.
  5. Choice is good. To choose our WoW in a context-driven, pragmatic manner we need to select the best-fit technique given our situation.  Having choices, and knowing the trade-offs associated with those choices, is critical to choosing our WoW that is best fit for our context.
  6. Optimize flow. We want to optimize flow across the value stream that we are part of, and better yet across our organization, and not just locally optimize our WoW within our team. Sometimes this will be a bit inconvenient for us, but overall we will be able to more effectively respond to our customers.
  7. Organize around products/services (new).  To delight our customers we need to organize ourselves around producing the offerings, the products and services, that they need. We are in effect organizing around value streams because value streams produce value for customers, both external and internal, in the form of products and services.  We chose to say organize around products/services, rather than offerings or value streams, as we felt this was more explicit.
  8. Enterprise awareness. Disciplined agilists look beyond the needs of their team to take the long-term needs of their organization into account.  They adopt, and sometimes tailor, organizational guidance.  They follow, and provide feedback too, organizational roadmaps.  The leverage, and sometimes enhance, existing organizational assets.  In short, they do what's best for the organization and not just what's convenient for them.

These principles are described in greater detail in chapter 2 of Choose Your WoW!.  In the next blog in this series we will explore the promises of the DA mindset.  Stay tuned!


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 24, 2020 12:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

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)

Can't this wait till I'm old? Can't I live while I'm young?

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