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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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Tatsiana Balshakova
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Scott Ambler

Recent Posts

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

Comparing Agile and Lean Backlog Strategies

Disciplined Agile 5.3 Released

Categories: agile, Disciplined Agile

Disciplined Agile LogoWe released Disciplined Agile (DA) v5.3 earlier today, September 30th 2021.  While there are several visible changes that we've made, discussed below, most of this release is "behind the scenes" in that we've updated descriptions of many techniques and added many new references that link to articles, blogs, or books describing a given technique.

The "visible changes" include updates to several process goals:

  • Intake Work. We refactored out several options from the Manage Work Items decision point to introduce a new decision point, Manage Backlog. We also updated the options for backlog management to reflect current industry practice.  This is a fairly important change that will be described in a detailed blog post.
  • Explore Scope. We updated the Choose a Backlog Management Strategy decision point to reflect changes to Intake Work. Early in a project it's critical to identify how you will manage your backlog later during Construction as this decision will inform your decision around how much detail to gather during Inception.
  • Measure Outcomes. We added several new potential metrics to existing options, and introduced the Increase Initiative Health decision point.
  • Organize Metrics. Added Aggregate Measures and Report Measures decision points.  An earlier blog, Apply Consistent Metrics Categories Across an Agile Portfolio, covers the key strategy for aggregating measures.  The report measures decision point is self explanatory, covering strategies such as status reports, metrics reports, automated dashboards, and more. 
  • Plan The Release. Updated estimation strategies.

We also updated the following process blades:

  • Continuous Improvement – Added the Analyze Root Cause decision point to the goal diagram.
  • Product Management – Added the Measure Offering decision point to describe explicit measurement options. Added the Capture Roadmap decision point to describe options for documenting/communicating your product roadmap.

It is important to note that for the DASM and DASSM exams that we are still testing you against the DA 5.0 version of the model.

Related Resources

Posted by Scott Ambler on: September 30, 2021 06:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Measure Outcomes - A New Process Goal

Categories: agile, goal-driven, goals, Scrum

We recently released the 5.2 version of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, and in that release we added three new process goalsIntake WorkOrganize Metrics, and Measure Outcomes.  The focus of this posting is the Measure Outcomes process goal, the goal diagram for which is posted in Figure 1.


Figure 1. The Measure Outcomes process goal diagram (click to enlarge).

Measure outcomes process goal

The Measure Outcomes process goal describes potential improvement outcomes, or improvement goals, and suggests potential metrics to measure progress against those outcomes. Disciplined Agile doesn't prescribe what to measure, that would be naive because every team is unique with its own priorities and desired outcomes. 

All of the potential outcomes in Figure 1 are important.  However, you will want to focus on a subset at any given time, and that subset is likely to evolve as your improvement focus evolves. Context counts. 



Related Resources

Posted by Scott Ambler on: July 22, 2021 12:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Organize Metrics - A New Process Goal

Categories: agile, goal-driven, goals, Scrum

We recently released the 5.2 version of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, and in that release we added three new process goalsIntake WorkOrganize Metrics, and Measure Outcomes.  The focus of this posting is the Organize Metrics process goal, depicted in Figure 1.


Figure 1. The Organize Metrics process goal diagram (click to enlarge).

Organize metrics process goal

As the name implies, this process goal describes strategies to organize the metrics approach within your team. This strategy will be driven both by your team's culture and skills as well as the needs of your stakeholders - your metrics will likely need to "roll up" to the program or portfolio level.

Your metrics strategy will focus on several important questions:

  • What is the focus of our measure strategy?
  • How will we communicate measures both within the team and externally to our stakeholders?
  • How will we measure?
  • What types of measures will we take and communicate?

Where this goal focuses on how to measure, the Measure Outcomes goal describes what to potentially measure.



Related Resources

Posted by Scott Ambler on: July 21, 2021 12:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Intake Work - A New Process Goal

Categories: agile, goal-driven, goals, Scrum

We recently released the 5.2 version of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, and in that release we added three new process goals: Intake Work, Organize Metrics, and Measure Outcomes.  The focus of this posting is the Intake Work process goal.

Intake Work: Added

Figure 1 depicts the process goal diagram for Intake Work (see How to Read Process Goal Diagrams).  This is how a team pulls in work from their "upstream" stakeholders. The incoming work is examined and if ready it is prioritized and put on the team's work backlog. We introduced this process goal because we wanted to have a cohesive source of process information capturing the issues around a common activity that is critical to your team's success.

Figure 1. The Intake Work process goal diagram (click to enlarge)

Intake work process goal diagram


To be effective at intaking work, we need to consider several important questions:

  • When are we going to accept any new work?
  • Is the request work ready for us to accept?
  • How are we going to prioritize work?
  • Who will prioritize the work?
  • What types of work needs to be prioritized?
  • How are we going to manage work items?


Address Changing Stakeholder Needs: Refactored

Part of the development of Intake Work was the refactoring of Address Changing Stakeholder Needs which previously captured several decision points that focused on intaking work and several on exploring stakeholder needs.  Figure 2 depicts the updated goal diagram.  Important changes include:

  • Several decision points - Prioritize Work (What), Prioritize Work (Who), Prioritize Work (How), and Manage Work Items - were moved from here to Intake Work.
  • The Explore Stakeholder Needs decision point was moved here from Produce a Potentially Consumable Solution, simplifying that goal and helping to focus this one.

Figure 2. The Address Changing Stakeholder Needs goal diagram (click to enlarge)

Address changing stakeholder needs process goal diagram


Related Resources

Posted by Scott Ambler on: July 20, 2021 07:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Embracing Mindset Diversity in Disciplined Agile

Categories: agile, Kanban, lean, Manifesto, mindset, Scrum

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 (8)

"The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage."

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