Important Concepts Regarding Goal Diagrams
A few important points about goal diagrams:
- There are still more options. Although the diagrams provide a good representation of the options available to you, there are always more strategies and practices being identified every day. The DA tool kit evolves over time, exactly as you would expect.
- Each option has tradeoffs. There is no such thing as a best practice. Every practice has advantages and disadvantages. Every practice works well in some situations and very poorly in others. The Disciplined Agile Browser provides detailed advice about the strategies and practices identified in the goal diagrams.
- Some options are generally better than others. When there is an arrow to the left of the options list it is an indicator that the options towards the top of the list are generally more effective from an agile point of view than the options towards the bottom. An interesting implication is that the goal diagrams will often include strategies, such as taking a Big Requirements Up Front (BRUF) approach, that you would prefer to avoid. By including a range of options, the DA tool kit helps teams to not only understand that they have choices, but that they may also have strategies available to them that are better than the ones they have currently chosen.
- Potential starting points are shown in bold. We recognize that the goal diagrams can be a bit overwhelming at first. To help address that we’ve indicated potential starting points that are geared towards teams that find themselves in fairly straightforward situations.
The Benefits of a Goal-Driven Approach
Our experience is that there are several fundamental advantages to taking a goal-driven approach to describing the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit. A goal-driven approach:
- Provides straightforward process improvement guidance. Process goal diagrams make it very clear how to make intelligent process decisions. Process goal diagrams do this by making the process factors that you need to consider explicit, and they indicate potential strategies/practices to consider addressing for each factor. In some cases, these strategies are ordered, this is indicated by the arrow, providing you with a clear improvement options for that factor.
- Improves the efficiency of retrospectives. During a retrospective your team may identify that it needs to improve its approach to exploring requirements, or to coordinating with other teams, or to improving the quality of their work. The goal diagrams can provide quick references to help the team identify potential improvements that they might not have been aware of otherwise.
- Enables effective tactical scaling. DA provides a foundation from which to tactically scale agile approaches. An important part of scaling agile is to tailor your strategy to reflect the realities of the scaling factors which you face. For example, consider your approach to exploring the initial scope of your effort. A large team or a geographically distributed team will make different tailoring decisions than a small co-located team. A team in a regulatory environment will make different decisions, particularly around amount of detail, than teams in non-regulatory environments.
- Makes your process options very clear. Process goal diagrams make it very clear what you need to consider when tailoring your way of working (WoW) to meet the unique needs of the situation faced by your team.
- Takes the guesswork out of extending agile methods. The goal diagrams make it very clear that you have a range of options available to you, and the Disciplined Agile Browser provides the context-sensitive advice which supports the diagrams. Other aspects of DA, such as promoting a full delivery life cycle, enterprise awareness, and adopting a hybrid tool kit also support the extensions you require to truly support agile at an enterprise level.
- Makes it clear what risks you’re taking on. By making your process decision options clear, and by describing the trade-offs associated with those options, DA makes it very clear what risks you’re taking on. Want to write a detailed requirement specification up front (yes, in a very small number of situations this is in fact a viable option for agile teams) then DA is going to make it very clear what risks you’ve just taken on by doing so. DA also makes it clear when this decision is appropriate, so if you’re not in this situation then it is likely time to rethink your approach. In many situations the argument “that isn’t agile” falls on deaf ears, whereas “that will take longer and here’s why”, “that will be more expensive and here’s why”, “that will result in lower stakeholder value and here’s why” will be listened to.
- Enables process assessment. Many teams are interested in answering the question “how are we doing?” The process goal diagrams provide easy and comprehensive “look up charts” against which a team may assess how well it works.
This goal-driven approach helps teams to determine what strategy is best for them given the situation that they face. This, in turn, enables them to reduce the time they would otherwise spend on process-related issues and instead invest that effort into producing value for their stakeholders. Isn’t that what it’s really all about?