A few important points about these 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.
- Each option has trade offs. 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 Choose Your WoW! book provides detailed advice about the strategies and practices identified in the DAD goal diagrams (which is the primary reason that the printed version of the book is a bit over 500 pages).
- 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 — smallish teams that are near located taking on reasonable complexities.
The Benefits of a Goal-Driven Approach
Our experience is that there are several fundamental advantages to taking a goal-driven approach to agile solution delivery. A goal-driven approach:
- Provides straightforward process tailoring guidance. Figures 3 and 4 should make it very clear how DA enables people to make intelligent process decisions. It does this by making the process factors that you need to consider explicit and it indicates potential strategies/practices to consider addressing for each factor. In some cases these strategies are ordered (this is indicated by the arrow).
- Improves the efficiency of retrospectives. During a retrospective your team may identify that it needs to improve its approach to exploring requirements, or to evolving the architecture, or to testing the solution. 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. See the article Exploring Initial Scope on Disciplined Agile Teams for a more detailed discussion about addressing this goal at scale.
- Makes your process options very clear. Figure 1, in combination with the more detailed goals diagrams make it very clear what you need to consider when tailoring an agile solution delivery process 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 Choose Your WoW! book provides the detailed 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. Although we cannot prevent challenges such as a Water-Scrum-Fall approach where a heavy approach is taken to Inception and Transition and an agile/Scrum approach to Construction we can certainly make it very clear what the impact is of the decisions that led you to that approach. Since the DAD book came out in June 2012 we’ve spoken with several people who have used the decision tables in it to argue against inappropriate process decisions on their projects. 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, at both the delivery team level (e.g. the Address Changing Stakeholder Needs goals) and at the IT level (e.g. The Data Management process blade), provide easy and comprehensive “look up charts” against which a team may be assessed.
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 consumable solutions for their stakeholders. Isn’t that what it’s really all about?