What is Disciplined Agile and Why Adopt it?
If you wish to learn about what is disciplined agile, we need to first understand what Agile is? Agile is the hot topic nowadays and if you look at various project management and software development, you will find Agile framework is getting due weightage and for all good reasons. It is a framework that helps the team to break the project into a smaller project which ensures the timely delivery of the quality product to the customer. It is basically a collection of all the best practices and methodologies that could help to deliver a successful project.
What is Disciplined Agile?
Now coming to the topic of the day- disciplined agile. It is one of the hybrid agile approaches to all IT solutions. Think of it as a toolkit that helps to deliver learning-oriented, people-first which helps in process decisions as per the unique requirements that are needed in a specific project.
It is used to guide and look for the best approach for the project and optimizations can be done by people, teams, and organizations. It also offers a wide range of ideas for the context, and different customizations can be done. Moreover, it helps in making better decisions for the team and the overall project.
Why the Need for Disciplined Agile?
Below are some of the big benefits that your team of development as well as quality assurance will be able to see when they adopt disciplined agile in their work:
It is a known fact when a methodology followed in IT solutions puts the people as an important determinant, better results are expected. Unlike other approaches that are followed by other processes and tools to put those tools before people, disciplined agile follows an opposite approach to that. This people-focused approach in disciplined agile delivery can be very beneficial for the overall efficiency and growth of the project in the long run.
An agnostic and pragmatic approach
If we talk about the practices in the DA toolkit, we will discover that it is the combination of various techniques of the processes that come from different sources which include Scrum, Agile Modelling, SAFe, Kanban, DevOps, and many more. Keeping that in mind, the best approach to complete the project is developed which leads to better planning and distribution of tasks in the project. The context is given and the agnostic and pragmatic approach is being followed here. With the hybrid approach, it helps in the formation of tailored ideas for successful solutions in the organization.
Note of full delivery cycle
The project initiation and the various stages that come after it should be streamlined as much as possible. With disciplined agile delivery, the approach to create a product is done in increment instead of a heavy deployment phase for the team. With appropriate guidance and address to a full delivery cycle in the project, a successful consumable product is delivered at the end.
Importance to context
The team consists of people from various backgrounds, skills and they have different things to bring to the table for the project. Using this toolkit, the ideas and context is captured and it provides a good range of various choices that will help in clearly putting the context in front of the whole team. The context here counts and the team will work according to it.
Not only this, as your work is based on customer delight, the project will be able to deliver the products that make the customer happy. This will increase customer loyalty and that will further improve the market competitiveness. If you are going through PMI ACP online training, you will get to know about the reasons why the agile practitioners should follow disciplined agile in a more comprehensive way and these above-mentioned benefits can be achieved while working on the project. With a PMI-ACP certification, you will be able to put this approach in the team and expect better results.
What are the Principles of Disciplined Agile?
Based on the concept of both lean and flow approaches, principles of disciplined agile provide a mindset for business agility. So, let’s look into those principles:
To be awesome
The client is going to choose the people who are awesome to work with, whether it is their work, their quality of products, or their ethics. So the team should be good and awesome to work in the first place.
Having a pragmatic approach can do wonders for the team and this is what this principle is all about. With an agnostic and pragmatic approach, the improvements can be made and the project can be delivered effectively.
This toolkit follows the practices that will help the team to go beyond the needs and expectations of the client and increase customer satisfaction with their work. This follows the idea that if we are not going to deliver what is needed, then the customers will go and the market competitiveness can decrease.
As mentioned above, the team members in the team are the most important assets. Their work, their ideas, and their skills are very important. So the way of working (WoW) should fit with the context and slowly with time it should be evolved.
Awareness of Enterprise
Taking care of the things that the organization stands for is the main role here even if it becomes an inconvenience for the team. As per this principle, organizational needs are used and guidance is needed.
The flow needs to be optimized to deliver what is promised across the team and value stream. It is needed to make sure that proper customer communication is there throughout the flow.
The best approach that is agnostic, pragmatic, and also context-oriented helps to choose the technique that will fit the whole purpose and make processes better.
The guidelines of the Disciplined Agile mindset help us to be more effective in our way of working (WoW), and in improving our WoW over time. The eight guidelines are:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Framework instead of methodology
So other methodologies like RUP are really big and advocate a certain process rather in depth although they say you need adjust the process to your environment. Methodologies like Scrum make you adopt a narrow process which suppose to be a kernel on which you grow your own process. It’s small and makes you alter it to your environment right away. Discipled Agile Delivery (DAD) is somewhat different. It doesn’t impose a process rather strictly. It’s describing a somewhat combined view. It captures the best parts of a number of methodologies and techniques and tells which are great to combine. It also gives lists of options from which you can create your own process. So you can create your own process. This makes it usable for a large scale of organizations. But not immediately. They still need to pick their parts and create a process. Or maybe better said, pick the parts, evaluate the parts and adjust/improve accordingly.
So what is about calling things daily stand-up meeting, sprint and scrum master. I always had a feeling by using those words people tend to think it’s something completely new, although the daily meeting to coordinate and synchronize the team members is nothing more than a daily coordination meeting. The terminology used by DAD is just some more down to earth I guess.
The problem of big organizations
So the bigger the organization, the more specialized departments and people are gonna be? You will get a enterprise architecture department with people in it whereas in smaller organizations this maybe was the responsibility of a senior software engineer. DAD does not ignore the big organizations but describes lots of possibilities to get the people and team more integrated in the rest of the organization and tells us it’s very important to get integrated with the organization to get the job done.
Talk in goals instead of deliverables
So instead of telling we need to create a document containing X it just tells us to make sure you target the goal. So spreading the vision and reaching agreement on it is something you can sometimes just do by pulling all stakeholder in a room and do a two hour envisioning session. In small endeavors this is the best process.