How to Lead Teams to the Next Agile Awakening

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Last updated on
04th Sep, 2021
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03rd Sep, 2021
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How to Lead Teams to the Next Agile Awakening

Building and leading an Agile transformation calls for leaders with a whole new set of capabilities. Not only must they have a substantially different mind-set, but they should also be able to drive a paradigm shift across teams—one that fosters and enables innovation and collaboration, and maximizes value creation at scale.  

Paving the way to a successful transformation, the Disciplined Agile® (DA™) toolkit from the Project Management Institute harnesses the most appropriate Agile, Lean, and traditional practices, guiding organizations on the best-fit processes for their team’s context. DA does not prescribe a specific approach, but guides Agilists in choosing and tailoring the best strategies for their ways of working.

KnowledgeHut has entered into an exclusive partnership with Project Management Institute (PMI)®, to help you lead your teams to the next Agile awakening, leveraging Disciplined Agile®.  

During the launch of the exclusive partnership on September 2, 2021, we had Mark Lines and Scott Ambler, the Founders of Disciplined Agile in conversation with Dr. Srini Srinivasan, Managing Director, PMI South Asia, bringing us their insights on how to make the most out of your Agile investments leveraging Disciplined Agile.

Joe Cahill, Chief Customer Officer, PMI Global, shared with the audience about PMI’s initiatives to offer professionals strong, credible new capabilities and certifications that will differentiate them and open doors.

Amol Pradhan, Chief Transformation Officer, Enterprise Agility at IBM, and Falguni Rolekar, Enterprise Transformation Leader, IBM, added their perspectives—honed over five decades of collective experience with Agile transformations—on challenges with scaling Agile and how the Disciplined Agile approach helps to overcome them.

Tremendous value was unlocked in the power-packed interactions, and we were just as excited as you to learn about the DA toolkit from the creators themselves. We’ve compiled some of the key discussion points to give you a glimpse into the event.

Choosing your Way of Working and staying relevant in the Agile world

SRINI: How do I and the other professionals in this audience stay relevant with the advances that are happening in the Agile world today and how do we use that to advance our careers? 

MARK: The Agile landscape is full of certifications, with each of these certifications usually based on one particular method or framework or set of techniques. For Agile practitioners, it's like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  

All these different certifications have gaps. This is where Disciplined Agile is different, we're not another method. We're not another framework, and that's why we've been referring to it as a tool kit. At last count, DA has over 1600 practices, that you can use to choose your way of working. 

The key takeaway is that if you go to a two-day certification course, you're going to learn a set of techniques, but certainly not 1600 techniques. Whatever method or framework you're currently using, DA helps you to get better, without necessarily displacing it. We're not married to one approach. We help you get better than what you're doing, so there's a journey there. 

MODERATOR: Why should Agile team members build other skills, when they have in-depth knowledge in one specific area? 

FALGUNI: If the team is going for an Agile transformation, we are going to work in a small team and we are going to do an iterative delivery. That means that whatever we are going to deliver has to be production ready at the end of the iteration. To build this kind of a production-ready deliverable takes a lot of skills. At the same time, we must ensure that the team has a great collaboration in order to generate this kind of a deliverable. This requires multiple skills, and a change from I-shaped to T-shaped skillsets, to help the team in delivering the right results.

Leveraging DA to navigate challenges in Agile transformations

SRINI: Scott, in your mind, what are some of the biggest challenges organizations face as they try to migrate to an Agile way of work? 

SCOTT: Organizations face a lot of complexities. Every organization is unique, and one size does not fit all. There's no easy path to becoming more Agile, other than hard work, and you know, investing in your people, and being prepared to choose their own way of working and learning how to improve. And I think that that can be frustrating for a lot of organizations. It takes time, and it takes investment. There are no easy answers. 

SRINI: So, there are no easy answers, and one size does not fit all. What are some of the unique aspects of Disciplined Agile which organizations can use to overcome these challenges?  

SCOTT: Looking at the whole picture, we must be enterprise aware and observe what’s really going on. And that's the basis of what we've done in DA.  

Instead of telling you what to do, we tell you what to think about, and then we give you options. We say if you have this issue, here are several ways you can solve that. Here are the tradeoffs of those options, so you choose the right way of working for you—because I don't know what situation you're in, and even if I did, it wouldn't matter. Your situation is changing anyways, so the new normal is to be constantly changing.  

And as a result, you need to learn how to choose your own way of working. You need to learn how to get better at getting better, and that is what DA is all about. 

Your end goal is to become a learning organization that is able to constantly get better, while reacting to the changes in the marketplace, and overcoming the challenges that you face. And those are the skills that we teach in DA. 

MODERATOR: Generally, when organizations go for Agile transformation, leaders feel that they lose control and the value is reduced. What are your thoughts about this? 

AMOL: Agile is less about practices, but more about the culture change. And if the top leadership is not giving support and constant commitment, this is where the transformation will fail or succeed. They could lack clarity on why they are doing it, or have the fear of losing their job because the team is now self-empowered.  

The fear factor needs to be addressed, and leaders should be sure of the benefit that they will bring to the teams. As a leader, instead of fearing that they will lose control, they should help to build trust within the team.

Is Disciplined Agile better than traditional Agile? 

SCOTT: So where traditional methods and Agile frameworks focus on a specific thing, and often address it very well, there are gaping holes in all of these methods and frameworks. We chose a different path with DA.  

We decided to address what you actually face, like the questions that sometimes are not all that attractive to some of the frameworks. Like how do you govern Agile teams? Where does architecture fit in? Where does testing fit in? The finance team might not want to work on time, materials, the approach to funding that you want. How do you still interact and be successful in those situations? We take on the harder problems that you actually face and we give you options to address them.

MARK: It's not better, it's more robust, and it makes traditional Agile better. We teach you some of the things that you don't typically learn about in basic Agile certification. There is nothing inconsistent between DA and the Agile manifesto. There are gaps in the principles of the Agile manifesto. And in DA, we address these gaps and frame it in the form of the DA mindset - principles, promises, guidelines.

For instance, we talked about the value of diversity and improving the system rather than trying to change individuals, that was never talked about 20 years ago when the Agile manifesto was written. So, we think we like to think that we have a more disciplined, robust, agnostic, pragmatic approach to Agile and lean.

How is PMI ACP different from PMI DASSM? 

MARK: The ACP is one of the best certifications out there. It's a very, very good certification, and does require pretty comprehensive understanding of Agile before you can get certified. The certification is extremely rigorous. Now, having said that, the ACP basically requires a test and 8 months of experience. What you don’t learn in ACP is the toolkit, the 1600 practices. DA plugs into the journey and takes your knowledge to the next level. 

Stay tuned in the months to come on new ways that KnowledgeHut and PMI will empower project professionals and changemakers to turn all their biggest and boldest ideas into reality.


Are you ready to apply the Disciplined Agile Toolkit to augment Your Way of Working? 

Get started with the DASM certification, or take a deep dive into DA with the DASSM certification. 

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