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A Disciplined Approach to Agile Transformations


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How do you successfully transform your organization to become agile? What are the common challenges that organizations face doing so? What factors are key to your success? How can you apply the Lean Change method effectively?

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A Disciplined Approach to Agile Transformations

  1. 1. A Disciplined Approach to Agile Transformations © Disciplined Agile Consortium 1
  2. 2. Scott Ambler •  Helps enterprise-class organizations around the world to improve their processes and organization structures •  Thought leader of: –  Agile Modeling (AM) method –  Agile Data (AD) method •  Co-creator of the Disciplined Agile (DA) framework •  Author of 20+ books •  scott [at] •  Advisory board member: –  SEMAT –  ScaleFree –  Architectural Thinking Framework (ATF) © Disciplined Agile Consortium 2 @scottwambler
  3. 3. Agenda •  Why transformations are hard •  Agile transformation success factors •  The Lean Change method •  Q&A © Disciplined Agile Consortium 3
  4. 4. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 4
  5. 5. Change Efforts have a Lousy Track Record •  Average success rate of change initiatives 34% –  Standish Group, 2011 •  Reasons –  Lack of a structured change management process –  Irrational human behavior –  Treating change as linear process initiatives •  Managing change requires a feedback-driven approach, not plan-driven •  We need to use an agile lean/approach to change •  Solution: Use both a structured AND feedback- based agile approach 5 © Disciplined Agile Consortium
  6. 6. Agile software teams are building awesome race car engines… 6© Disciplined Agile Consortium
  7. 7. …but they are surrounded by organizational tractors 7© Disciplined Agile Consortium
  8. 8. Most organizations focus only on Adoption of Agile or Lean Delivery © Disciplined Agile Consortium 8
  9. 9. …but delivery teams interact with the rest of the organization, and they need to become agile too! © Disciplined Agile Consortium 9 Enterprise Architecture Security Finance Operations People Management Procurement IT Governance Data Management And many more…
  10. 10. Culture is Hard to Change •  Typical goals of agile transformations –  Build high performance motivated teams –  Optimize enterprise groups for agility (such as finance, architecture, UX, QA) –  Centers of Excellence/Communities of Practice –  Incorporate agile governance –  Alignment with HR/People Operations •  These goals require culture change •  Cannot force people to change •  Change must be negotiated continuously 10© Disciplined Agile Consortium
  11. 11. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 11 We don’t always get the leadership we need
  12. 12. Agile Transformation Success Factors © Disciplined Agile Consortium 12
  13. 13. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 13 Agile Transformations •  Agile Adoption != Transformation •  Team Coaches != Enterprise Coaches •  Consider creating a Disciplined Agile Centre of Excellence •  An Agile Enterprise Coach helps to “grease the skids” for the Agile Teams •  We use “Lean Change” as our OCM approach to make small, non-disruptive, sustainable changes over time
  14. 14. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 14 Enterprise Coaching Team Coaching
  15. 15. Agile Transformation Timeline 15 © Disciplined Agile Consortium
  16. 16. Agile Champions/ Sponsors •  Agile champions external to the team can help support and promote change •  Help to accelerate agile “transformation” in the organization •  Without executive sponsors in it for the long term it is very unlikely your adoption will succeed •  Need an internal Product Owner for your Transformation 16 © Disciplined Agile Consortium
  17. 17. Enable Teams to Choose Their Way of Working (WoW) © Disciplined Agile Consortium 17 Identify a Potential Improvement Experiment with the new WoW Assess Effectiveness Adopt the new WoW Abandon the new WoW Share Learnings with Others Apply the Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit to identify better options
  18. 18. Continuous Improvement Process Blade © Disciplined Agile Consortium 18
  19. 19. 19 A Disciplined Agile Centre of Excellence © Disciplined Agile Consortium
  20. 20. Invest in Coaching © Disciplined Agile Consortium 20
  21. 21. Disciplined Coaches Focus on Mindset and Skillset Values Principles Lifecycles Process Goals/Blades Decision Points Practices/Strategies © Disciplined Agile Consortium 21 Mindset Skillset
  22. 22. 22© Disciplined Agile Consortium
  23. 23. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 23 Executive Workshops -  Education -  Vision -  Guiding Principles
  24. 24. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 24 Several “Big Visible Charts” will help communicate our vision & progress against it
  25. 25. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 25
  26. 26. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 26 Minimal Viable Changes (MVC) •  A Minimal Viable Change is a change that you believe is small enough to be successful that balances disruption and organizational value •  Experiments •  Steps to incorporate the change: 1.  Agree on the reason for the change 2.  Negotiate the change 3.  Validate the option (introduce the improvement) 4.  Learn & verify improvement •  How to identify MVCs?
  27. 27. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 27 Part of “Introducing” the change is negotiating with the change recipients. Eg) Why should we redesign, collocate teams, and keep them together? Questions Guiding Principle How long will this team be together? Teams improve over time, striking/disbanding teams is expensive, learnings lost Do we have 100% dedicated Developers and QA? Anything less that 100% is an excuse for non-commitment, hurts team morale, very costly due to task switching, reduced accountability Who are the team members’ managers? Team makeup is often suboptimal if tied to functional hierarchy What is the team size? Ideal team size is 5-9 people Is a PO/BA dedicated? Busy? A PO/BA should be dedicated Is team collocated? Productivity and collaboration increases dramatically with collocation Is this a feature or component team? Most organizations have a mix Is this a “whole team”? Reduced dependencies on resources external to team is beneficial
  28. 28. Metrics Design with GQM © Disciplined Agile Consortium 28 Goals trace back to Vision canvas goals
  29. 29. A Strategy Board helps tie high level objectives from the Vision canvas to smaller enablers © Disciplined Agile Consortium 29
  30. 30. From Transformation to Continuous Improvement 30 •  This is a journey, not a destination •  Once the key transformative work has been complete, the transformation changes more to a continuous improvement approach © Disciplined Agile Consortium
  31. 31. Parting Thoughts... •  Communicate, communicate, communicate (town halls, radiators, wikis, lean coffees) – radical transparency! •  Have a Product Owner for your Transformation •  Executive sponsorship is critical •  Coach and mentor people over the long term –  Everyone and at all levels of the organization, not just IT •  Get some help from experienced Enterprise Coaches •  Certified Disciplined Agile Coaches (CDACs) have passed a DAC Board Review and had references checked © Disciplined Agile Consortium 31
  32. 32. Upcoming Events Public Webinars: •  Nov 5: DevOps for the Enterprise •  Nov 26, 27: How to Become an Agile Business •  Dec 13,14: Agile Across all of IT Member-Only Webinars: •  Nov 27: Choose Your WoW! Workshops: •  Nov 6-7: Disciplined Agile in a Nutshell – Virtual •  Nov 13-15: The Disciplined Agile Experience – Mexico City •  Nov 17-18: Introduction to Disciplined Agile - Bucharest •  Nov 28-29: Disciplined Agile in a Nutshell - Virtual •  Dec 6-17: Introduction to Disciplined Agile - London
  33. 33. Please type your questions into the Q&A window © Disciplined Agile Consortium 33
  34. 34. The Disciplined Agile Consortium (DAC) is for practitioners and supporters of the Disciplined Agile process decision framework. It provides information on curriculum, certification, access to certified members, and resources to support Disciplined Agile activities.
  35. 35. Join Today Sign up at and become a member Have access to new and upcoming information about Disciplined Agile strategies © Disciplined Agile Consortium 35
  36. 36. The Disciplined Agile Consortium (DAC) supports and evolves the Disciplined Agile process decision framework. The DAC site,, provides information on curriculum and learning resources for Disciplined Agile practitioners. It is also the home of the Disciplined Agile certification program. The Disciplined Agile blog,, provides a wealth of articles and blog postings about Disciplined Agile topics. The Disciplined Agile discussion forum,, is a meeting place for Disciplined Agile practitioners to share their experiences and to get questions answered. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 36