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.
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.
There are several important points to this strategy:
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?
Updating the Disciplined Agile Manifesto
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.
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.
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.
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: