Enterprise Agility and the DA Process Decision Framework
DS (Disciplined Agile) is based on the premise that every organization, team, and individual is unique, so frameworks should offer choices, not prescribe solutions. It helps organizations ask the right questions, and for each question it provides a set of answers (solutions) from which to choose.
That’s much different from more prescriptive enterprise agile frameworks with clearly define processes, meetings, and roles. For example, the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) introduces the idea of the agile release train (ART) and Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) creates several new meanings for planning and conducting retrospectives. Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), on the other hand, doesn’t require specific meetings, and the roles involved are probably already in your organization.
DAD represents all the practices centered around enterprise agile product delivery, whereas DA casts a much wider net and is more attuned to business agility. In addition to product delivery, DA covers marketing, sales, governance, legal, and human resources (HR).
Think of the difference between DA and other enterprise agile frameworks in terms of baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies. A prescriptive framework such as SAFe would provide a list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions. DA, on the other hand, would describe the size, texture, and flavor of the cookies and offer some general guidance, such as “all ingredients must be mixed in the right proportions, and the mixture divided and heated.” The pastry chef would then be free to choose the ingredients and quantities, decide how to mix them and how to divide the mixture, and figure out how to heat it to produce the desired final product.
Small- to medium-sized organizations may find the DA approach unsatisfying, but it may be the perfect fit for large organizations, where many different teams are trying out different agile ideas. Instead of telling people how to do their jobs, you set common goals and leave it up to the teams to decide how to meet them. You specify the what and let your agile teams address the how.
Unfortunately, giving people so many choices and then trying to educate them on how to make the best choices is often much more challenging than simply giving them a uniform process to follow. The sheer number of choices can boggle the mind.
DA can become agile quicksand in that the more you struggle, the deeper you get sucked into the framework. When starting with DA, take a very high-level view. Steer clear of the goals and milestones and focus on the higher-level processes — the DAD principles, primary roles, secondary roles, and the three-phase delivery lifecycle.