Disciplined Agile

Collaborative Development of Shared Guidance

An easy way to improve the quality of our work is to adopt and then follow, where appropriate, commonly accepted guidance. Effective guidance is an enabling constraint that provides guardrails for teams. Another benefit of adopting common guidance is that it is a great way to share learnings across the organization. The topic of guidance may address a specific technology, a tool, a platform, or even an activity. Examples of potential guidance include user interface (UI) guidelines, security guidelines, data standards, and many more.

Our experience is that the best guidance comes from proven practice tempered with the insights of people with experience in that topic. Figure 1 captures the life cycle of the development and evolution of guidance. The need for guidance often starts with a team. They’re working with a topic where the organization doesn’t have existing guidance and they recognize the need for it. Sometimes an enterprise team – such as your vendor management team or security team – may be waiting for a work team to run into the need for the guidance, and may have even gotten a bit ahead of things and have begun working on what they believe to be appropriate guidance. Either way, the enterprise team and the work team collaborate to develop guidance that is appropriate for the situation at hand. This strategy helps to ensure that the practical considerations of the team are addressed, that the guidance is developed on a just-in-time (JIT) basis, and that long-term enterprise concerns are also taken into account.

In Figure 1, you see that team A and the enterprise team work together to develop and then apply the initial draft of the guidance. The appropriate enterprise team is determined by the topic. For example, data guidance is typically the responsibility of the data management team, procurement guidance the responsibility of the vendor management team, security standards the responsibility of the security team, and so on. Once the guidance is shown to be effective in practice, the responsibility for it is taken over by the enterprise team. You can also see in Figure 1 that the enterprise team provides the guidance to other work teams, in this case, team B and team C. Evolution of the guidance occurs over time, with the enterprise team working closely with work teams to do so (which team C is doing in Figure 1). 

Collaborative Guidance

Figure 1. Collaborative development and support of guidance (click to enlarge).

February 2022