Disciplined Agile

The Guardrails for Those Working On the Portfolio

The guardrails are our agreements with each other across the enterprise. However, each role usually manifests these in a different manner. The following is what the guardrails mean for people working on the organization’s portfolio.


Promise: Create psychological safety

The portfolio is at the front of the value stream and must be directed according to what value is really being delivered. Business stakeholders must welcome news, good or bad, about the efficacy of the value being delivered to clients.


Promise: Accelerate value realization

People cannot manifest this guardrail if they don’t know what business value is. When stakeholders decide what they want to invest in and create strategies to manifest them it is imperative that this be conveyed in a manner that everyone throughout the organization can see. This is the starting point of the value stream and any downstream decisions should ultimately be based on this.  This is the statement of what the people in an organization are all working towards.


Promise: Collaborate proactively

Collaboration implies a common goal. Without this clarify different parts of the organization will be working at cross-purposes without realizing it.


Promise: Make all work and workflow visible

Visibility doesn’t just mean that work can be seen, but also means that importance of the work can be seen. Thus, each initiative and business increment must tie back to the reason we are creating it.


Promise: Increase predictability

The biggest cause of unpredictability of the realization of value is unplanned work that causes unforeseen delays.  Much of this work is due to overloading of teams. To avoid having too much work in process it is important to know when to say “no”. This requires saying “yes” only to the most important work and “no” to everything else.


Promise: Keep workloads within capacity

Too much work not only affects predictability, it also delays the realization of value. What executives feed downstream organizations will have a huge impact on technology. Leadership involvement is most critical at the initiation phase than anywhere else.  Executive buy in is often mentioned as a critical aspect of Agile at scale and it is. But the biggest buy in here is that they don’t demand technology to do more than an optimal workload (which technology determines).


Promise: Improve Continuously

Complex systems always have areas of improvement although they are often difficult to see. The combination of focus on value, visibility, collaboration and working at a sustainable pace provides opportunities for improvement.