Disciplined Agile

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True business agility comes from freedom, not frameworks. Disciplined Agile (DA) helps you learn about your options and guides you to your best next step. DA is a tool kit that harnesses hundreds of Agile practices to guide you to the best way of working for your team or organization.  As a goal-driven method, DA provides a solid foundation for business agility so people, teams, and organizations can all benefit from straightforward guidance to streamline their processes. Our fundamental advice is to start where you are, do the best you can given the situation that you face, and always strive to improve. Use this page to help identify where you are today and consider this a resource for using DA going forward.

    Get a Quick Primer on Disciplined Agile

    Disciplined Agile (DA) is very much a tool kit, not a framework. DA is focused on the decisions you need to consider, the options available to you, and the trade-offs associated with these options.

    Within any given team you can use DA to identify the intents and the activities you should address so you can make context-specific choices that are the best for your situation. In practice, DA considers four views:  

    1. Mindset. DA builds on the foundations of agile and lean to address enterprise realities.  
    2. People. DA describes the roles, responsibilities, and team structures you should have in place.  
    3. Flow. DA describes the dynamic aspects of processes via lifecycle diagrams and workflow diagrams.  
    4. Practices. DA outlines the techniques that move your team forward, using straightforward goal diagrams that provide a high-level picklist of practices.  

    To learn more, we recommend you start with our Introduction to Disciplined Agile.

    Learn About the Disciplined Agile Mindset

    The Disciplined Agile (DA) mindset is captured in the form of principles, promises, and guidelines – as you see in Figure 1. Disciplined agilists believe in the DA principles, so we promise to adopt these behaviors and follow these guidelines when doing so. There is a purpose for each aspect of the mindset: 

    • Principles. The principles provide a philosophical foundation for business agility. They are based on both lean and flow concepts.  
    • Promises. The promises are agreements that we make with our fellow teammates, our stakeholders, and other people within our organization whom we interact with. The promises define a collection of disciplined behaviors that enable us to collaborate effectively and professionally.
    • Guidelines. These guidelines help us to be more effective in our way of working (WoW) and in improving our WoW over time.

    Figure 1. The Disciplined Agile (DA) Mindset.

    Diagram of the Disciplined Agile mindset

    Understand the Four Levels of the Disciplined Agile Tool Kit

    The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit is overviewed in Figure 2.

    Figure 2. The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit.

    Onion diagram of the Disciplined Agile tool kit

    The DA tool kit is organized into four layers:

    1. Foundation. The Foundation layer provides the conceptual underpinnings of the DA tool kit. This includes the principles, promises, and guidelines of the DA mindset; fundamental concepts from both agile and lean; fundamental concepts from serial/traditional approaches; roles and team structures; and the fundamentals of choosing your way of working (WoW).
    2. Disciplined DevOps. DevOps is the streamlining of software development and IT operations activities, and is typically presented as you see in Figure 3. This is a great start, and in Disciplined DevOps we extend this to take an enterprise-class approach that integrates Security and Data Management so as to provide more effective outcomes for your organization. We also recognize that for organizations with hundreds, and sometimes thousands of systems in production that Support (Help Desk) and Release Management activities need to be robust. The workflow for Disciplined DevOps is shown in Figure 4.

      Figure 3. The classic DevOps workflow.

      Diagram of classic DevOps workflow
      Figure 4. The workflow of Disciplined DevOps

      Diagram of the Disciplined DevOps workflow
    3. Value Streams. The Value Stream layer is based on FLEX, the workflow of which is shown in Figure 5. FLEX is the glue that ties an organization’s strategies in that it visualizes what an effective value stream looks like, enabling you to make decisions for improving each part of the organization within the context of the whole. It’s not enough to be innovative, you also need to increase value realization – this layer shows you how to do exactly that in the environment that you face. 
    4. Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE). A Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE) is able to sense and respond swiftly to changes in the marketplace. It does this through an organizational culture and structure that facilitates change within the context of the situation that it faces. Such organizations require a learning mindset in the mainstream business and underlying lean and agile processes to drive innovation. The DAE layer focuses on the rest of the enterprise activities that support your organization’s value streams. 

    Figure 5. The DA Flex workflow.

    Diagram of the Disciplined Agile FLEX workflow

    Apply Disciplined Agile at Scale

    Once you have a handle on DA you may be ready to apply it at scale. The Situation Context Framework (SCF)—which is inclusive of people, process, and tools—defines how to select and tailor a situation-dependent strategy for software development.  

    Basics of Disciplined Agile Online Course

    Looking for true business agility? Learn how to improve your team’s Way of Working (WoW) now from your home and on your schedule.

    Basics of Disciplined Agile helps you choose the right agile approach for your situation and sets you free from prescriptive agile frameworks like SAFe® or Scrum.