3 Reasons You Need to Learn Disciplined Agile Today!

Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) is an Agile-friendly approach that has been around for almost 20 years. To take a brief trip down memory lane, DAD was developed from the foundation of RUP (Rational Unified Process), which was a highly-customizable process model that was often mis-applied into a rigid, waterfall-like process. What is so special about DAD and why should you care about it now? Let’s explore.

Disciplined Agile Over the past few years, DAD has evolved into an enterprise model for scaling Agile, rebranded as simply DA (Disciplined Agile). It is become a hybrid toolkit that takes elements from a variety of models, frameworks and approaches such as XP, Scrum, SAFe, Lean, etc. to formulate a very pragmatic toolkit that can be applied to all types of projects. There are several reasons that DA is uniquely different from all other Agile models in the world today.

Reason #1 – Disciplined Agile contains 6 different life cycle models

Unlike other models, DA is a highly-flexible toolkit that contains a collection of life cycle models that can be applied to meet the specific needs of a project situation. These include: Agile, Agile Continuous Delivery, Lean, Lean Continuous Delivery, Program and Exploratory. I will avoid taking away your opportunity to learn about each of these, but just know that each of these are unique in their areas of focus and value.

Reason #2 – Disciplined Agile embraces context and customization

Context and pragmatism are at the core of DA; DA embraces your unique circumstances and does not try to prescribe any “best practices” because philosophically, there is no such thing as “best” approach for all situations. What works well within one context may or may not work well in a different situation. DA encourages you to understand your cultural and organizational constraints and requirements, and empowers you to select your own model. DA also encourages you to evolve your way of working over time as your context and domain change.

Reason #3 – Disciplined Agile is goal-oriented

Process Goals are the fuel that runs the DA engine. The goals enable teams to focus on what they wish to accomplish, then provides a roadmap to select specific practices that will help your team achieve the goals. DA offers a collection of practices that are commonly used in the industry today, as well as recommendations on what works well in specific situations based on real-world experiences in the field. For example, if your team would like to achieve the goal of “Explore Scope”, DA provides a number of activities such as “Explore the Domain”, “Explore General Requirements” and “Apply Modeling Strategies” – each of these decision points will include a number of possible tools/techniques that will help you meet your goal, such as “Agile modeling sessions”, “Open space”, “Joint Application Requirements sessions”, etc.

To summarize, DA is an often-forgotten approach that has been overshadowed by other more popular and well-known frameworks such as Scrum or SAFe. However, I wholeheartedly believe that DA is a hidden gem that can make a tremendous difference in your team and your organization. Do yourself a favor…read up on Disciplined Agile today and see how you may be able to apply this powerful toolkit!


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Eugene Lai
Eugene Lai