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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
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Recent Posts

Embracing Mindset Diversity in Disciplined Agile

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?

Embracing Mindset Diversity in Disciplined Agile

Categories: Manifesto, mindset

Come as you are

One of the mantras of the agile community is that you need to "be agile," that you need to adopt an agile mindset. Agilists will often point to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, commonly referred to as the Agile Manifesto, as a good starting point to understand this mindset, which it is. Other mantras within the agile community include respecting others and having a safe environment that embraces diversity. All wonderful ideas, but what do you do when they collide with one another? 

 

The Disciplined Agile Mindset

Figure 1 depicts the Disciplined Agile (DA) mindset, which 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. Where the Agile Manifesto addressed the environment faced by software developers 20 years ago, the DA mindset addresses the environment faced by organizations today. The DA mindset reflects our learnings over these past 20 years, adopting great ideas from a wide range of sources, in particular ideas around lean and flow, to describe concepts that enable enterprise agility.  

 

Figure 1. The Disciplined Agile mindset.

The Disciplined Agile Mindset

 

Embracing Different Mindsets in the DA Tool Kit

One of the promises of the DA mindset is to create psychological safety and embrace diversity. Interestingly, when you do that you soon realize that people often have very different mindsets and that this is a very desirable thing. Yes,we want people to embrace an agile mindset so that we all share a similar point of view, but that's only one of many points of view. There are still noticeable differences between the way that you approach something and the ways that others do, even when everyone involved has an agile mindset. This happens because we are all unique people with unique experiences and backgrounds, and as a result you have other points of view than just the agile mindset.  

I'm sure that you've noticed that finance people have a different perspective than people from marketing, whose perspective differs from data management professionals, which is different yet again than research and development people, and so on. Each business function tends to attract, and then reinforce, people of a certain mindset.  Some people find legal work incredibly interesting, whereas others find it spectacularly boring.  To each their own.

This is where it gets interesting.  Remember that DA is a tool kit that supports improvement across all aspects of your organization, not just software development.  One aspect of the architecture of the DA tool kit is that we've captured the different business functions within your organization as process blades, which in turn are described in terms of mindset, people, flow, and practices. Process blades include Finance, Strategy, Legal, Marketing, Security, IT Operations, Portfolio Management, and many more. Regarding mindset, for a given process blade, we extend the base DA mindset with philosophies that are applicable to that process blade.  For example, Figure 2 depicts DA's People Management (Human Resources) mindset and Figure 3 DA's Security mindset.

 

Figure 2. Disciplined Agile's People Management Mindset.

Disciplined Agile's People Management Mindset

 

Figure 3. Disciplined Agile's Security Mindset.

Disciplined Agile's Security Mindset

 

There are several important points to this strategy:

  1. DA respects and embraces a diverse range of viewpoints. To truly support business agility, you need an approach that recognizes that different groups within your organization have different ways of thinking, different concerns, and different priorities. The DA tool kit captures that as specific mindsets for each process blade. As always, context counts.
  2. To work effectively with others, you need to understand their point of view. The philosophies captured in the mindsets of each process blade provide insights into how people in those job functions think. This improved understanding will help you to bridge the gap between you when you first begin to communicate and collaborate. For example, it can be particularly frustratingly working with Security people, particularly when they are stopping you from doing something or are forcing you to follow a more security-oriented WoW.  Understanding the philosophies captured in Figure 3 can help you to appreciate what Security professionals are trying to achieve, and why they are doing so.
  3. This supports process improvement across disparate teams. Agile teams are semi-autonomous in that they need to collaborate with others sometimes to get things done. For example, my team needs to interact with Finance to fund a new endeavor.  Although we want to accomplish this in a streamlined and agile manner, the Finance team is currently more traditional in their approach and as a result injects cost and risk into the overall process. By understanding the mindset of Finance, and hopefully Finance investing time to understand the mindset of my team's function, we'll be better able to negotiate a new way of working (WoW) to experiment with.  This sort of skill, facilitating process improvement efforts across disparate teams, is a critical skill that we team in the Disciplined Agile Coach (DAC) certification.

Just like one process does not fit all situations, one mindset doesn't either.  The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit explicitly embraces mindset diversity.  Do you?

Posted by Scott Ambler on: May 27, 2021 08:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Updating the Disciplined Agile Manifesto

Categories: Manifesto

Update

We have recently posted an update to The Disciplined Agile Manifesto.  In particular, we simplified the wording of the three principles (reduce technical debt, visualize workflow, multi-modal organizations) that we added to extend the original Manifesto for Agile Software Development.  We describe the updates to each of the three principles, and our thinking behind them, below.

 

Reduce Technical Debt

Original: #13. Leverage and evolve the assets within your organizational ecosystem, and collaborate with the people responsible for those assets to do so.

Update: #13. Leverage and evolve the assets within your enterprise, collaborating with the people responsible for those assets to do so.

The primary change here is the use of the term enterprise instead of organizational ecosystem. Over the years we had several people point out that they weren’t comfortable with that term or that they found it overly complex.

 

Visualize Workflow

Original: #14. Visualize workflow to help achieve a smooth flow of delivery while keeping work in progress to a minimum.

Update: #14. Visualize work to produce a smooth delivery flow and keep work-in-progress (WIP) to a minimum.

This principle was reworded to make it more action oriented and to clearly point out the term WIP.

 

Multi-Modal Organizations

Original: #15. The organizational ecosystem must evolve to reflect and enhance the efforts of agile teams, yet be sufficiently flexible to still support non-agile or hybrid teams.

Update: #15. Evolve the enterprise to support agile, non-agile, and hybrid teams.

As you can see we simplified this principle greatly, using enterprise instead of organizational ecosystem as above and going straight to the point of supporting multiple ways of working.

Posted by Scott Ambler on: October 01, 2016 07:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Extending the Agile Manifesto

Categories: Manifesto, mindset

We have just published a Disciplined Agile Manifesto, an extension to the original Agile Manifesto.

Why have we done this? Since 2001 we’ve applied the ideas captured in the Agile Manifesto and have learned from our experiences doing so.  What we’ve learned has motivated us to suggest changes to the manifesto to reflect the enterprise situations in which we have applied agile and lean strategies.  Because the original authors of the Agile Manifesto have made it clear that they intend to keep their Manifesto static we have decided to move forward on our own with this extension.

We believe that the changes we’re suggesting are straightforward:

  1. Where the original manifesto focused on software development, a term which too many people have understood to mean only software development, the DA toolkit suggests that we should focus on solution delivery.  In short, we prefer solutions over software.
  2. Where the original focused on customers, a word that for too many people appears to imply only end users, the DA toolkit suggests that it focus on the full range of stakeholders instead.  We prefer stakeholders over customers.
  3. Where the original manifesto talked about projects, we believe it is more accurate to talk about teams.  As a result we replaced the word project with team throughout the principles.
  4. Where the original manifesto focused on development teams, the DA toolkit suggests that the overall IT ecosystem and its improvement be explicitly taken into consideration.
  5. The original manifesto focused on the understanding of, and observations about, software development at the time.  Since then there has been some very interesting work done within the lean community since then (and to be fair there was very interesting work done within that community long before the Agile Manifesto was written).  This manifesto incorporates lean principles, in particular considering the whole, visualizing workflow, and minimizing work in progress (WIP).

For earlier versions of the Disciplined Agile Manifesto, see Reworking the Agile Manifesto on IBM Developerworks and the book Choose Your WoW!

 

Posted by Scott Ambler on: April 10, 2014 08:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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