Disciplined Agile

Strategies that Support Lean Governance

The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit supports a wide range of “governance friendly” strategies, which include:

  1. Empowered teams. Teams should have both the authority and responsibility to fulfill their mission. Agile teams should be allowed to be self-organizing, the implication being that the team itself determines who will do what work (the team doesn’t have a manager telling them what to do). Any of course, teams should be enabled to choose their own way of working (WoW).
  2. Enterprise awareness. One of the principles of the Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit is that you should work in an enterprise aware manner. It is based on the observation that your team is only one of many teams, so therefore you need to consider the bigger picture when you’re working and do what is best for your organization, not just what is convenient for you. Promoting enterprise awareness throughout your organization is a fundamental enabler of lean governance.
  3. High-level roadmaps. High-level architecture and product roadmaps, produced by your Enterprise Architecture and Product Management efforts respectively, will provide important guidance to your teams. These roadmaps capture the vision as to where your organization is heading, helping teams to understand what the overall vision is, to focus on what is important to your organization, and to help guide and constrain their decisions.
  4. Collaborative professionals. Many process blades are focused on providing services and guidance to other teams. This includes process blades such as Vendor Management, Security, Strategy, People Management, Asset Management, Finance, and of course Governance. The enterprise professionals performing these activities should work closely with their customers, who are typically teams and individuals within your organization, in a collaborative and evolutionary manner. This promotes better governance for two reasons. First, by getting the vision, knowledge, and skills of the enterprise professionals into the hands of their customers it increases the chance that they work in a manner that is consistent to the needs of your organization. Second, the enterprise professionals want to get feedback from their customers and learn more about what their customers need from them. This enables them to be more effective at serving the enterprise and guiding their customers.
  5. Enterprise knowledge in teams. Although roadmaps and enterprise professionals collaborating with other teams help, it is far more effective to have people with enterprise knowledge embedded within the teams. This is why we promote the idea that Architecture Owners (AOs) should not only work closely with the enterprise architects but should preferably be a member of the EA team. Similarly, Product Owners (POs) should either work closely with the product management group or preferably be a member of that group. And it’s possible to do better than that — if team members are truly enterprise aware and are continuous learners, then it is reasonable to expect them to pick up enterprise knowledge over time. The more knowledgeable people are about their organization and its goals the less supervision/governance they will need.
  6. Automated dashboards. Automated dashboards are a scalable form of information radiator. With just a bit of work you can take the information being generated by your tools and, using business intelligence (BI) technologies, populate team and even portfolio dashboards in real time. These dashboards provide important information that teams can use to manage themselves as well as governors to monitor what is happening within your organization. This enhances governance because when you get better quality information into people’s hands and they are more likely make better decisions.
  7. Defined roles and responsibilities. Defined roles and responsibilities help people to understand who does what, what are they are responsible for and when they need to collaborate with others. This is an important aspect of governance because critical guidance about how people will need to interact with one another.
  8. Defined organizational structure. You may choose to have a hierarchy of teams, a network of teams, a collection of circles (along the lines of holocracy), or combinations thereof. This is important to your governance efforts because people need to know what teams exist and how do they interrelate within your organization.
  9. Common guidance. Guidance—standards and guidelines—is important to your governance effort because it helps people to understand how they can develop consistent assets which in turn are easier to understand and evolve. This guidance should be straightforward, ideally be supported through automation, and collaboratively developed.
  10. Governance team. People, typically senior leaders, are responsible for governance. The team, who is on it and what they do, should be defined and publicly known by those being governed. Everyone knows who the governors are and what they do, so that your governance strategy is open and transparent.
  11. Risk-based milestones. A risk-based milestone is a point in time where you determine whether a team has addressed a specific risk, for example have they achieved stakeholder agreement around the scope of a project, have the proven that their architectural strategy works, or whether they’ve shown developed sufficient functionality to deploy to their customers. This differs from an artifact-based milestone where you determine whether a team has appropriately produced a specific artifact, such as a scope document, an architecture model, or test results. Risk-based milestones ensure that the team has addressed risk, artifact-based milestones verify that an artifact has been created, reviewed, and accepted. This is a very important nuance.

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