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Boletín Científico # 16

Empowering Disciplined Agile with Enterprise Agility Models

Again this week, I thank you for being here! Over the last few years, I have been working hard to make sure that our Enterprise Agility models can support existing frameworks in the market. To do something like this, sometimes you have to start with new theories, fresh ideas, new research, and the science behind it. This is very exciting for anyone in the field of organizational change, but it can also be frustrating at times. 

I have to tell you honestly that of the many companies I talk to about becoming Enterprise Agility University partners, few understand that we are creating new theories and the future of organizations. Most tell us that they are already using ScrumSAFe, or Disciplined Agile and that they do not need anything else. However, the reality is that exponential market changes mean that these same companies do not know what the next step will be, or how to deal with employees exposed to high levels of uncertainty. 

That’s why I have decided that in the coming months, we will have our specialists and partners share their experiences on how our new Enterprise Agility models support Scrum, SAFe, Disciplined Agile, and others. It’s time to move forward and lead the industry into the future of organizations. And that’s why in this issue I’m pleased to introduce Walter Schraiber, Enterprise Agile Coach and DA Practitioner, who will share with you his experiences on how to empower Disciplined Agile with the Enterprise Agility University models. I hope you find it very useful!


Stuck in cosmetic agility prison?

Empowering Disciplined Agile with the EAU Models by Walter Shraiber, Agile and Disciplined Agile Coach and Enterprise Agility Consultant, Argentina

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Disciplined Agile has been a breakthrough for many like us. In this article, I want to share with you my experiences and findings on how to empower Disciplined Agile with the EAU models. I hope you find it useful in your daily work!

Agility is a Team mindset

Why is the agile mindset sometimes so hard to understand? Without the right context, the agile manifesto is very difficult to understand. The place, time, and people where the manifesto is born were a unique and unrepeatable context. The context in which agile became a trend is also unique and unrepeatable. 

Without knowing these contexts, these realities, and the conversations that they had, it is very difficult to understand the agile mindset. 

It’s because its extreme simplicity (4 values and 12 principles) tries to steer decision-making in a certain direction, a direction that makes sense from the perspective of the teams in which it emerges, but not so much from a larger, higher-level, more inclusive perspective.

This is why we say that the agile mindset is a team mindset. It may even be appropriate for multiple teams, but when it comes to mapping an organization, it certainly falls short. 

Agility is the new Fixed Mind

There has been a lot of talk about agility at the team level, many frameworks have emerged both at the team level and at the team level, and some of them have stood the test of time. One pattern of behavior we can observe is the tension that arises between the corporate initiative to agility and the need for teams to adapt.

The “frameworks” that are typically used in organizations have been created and developed within mental models that are certainly consistent with the agile mindset, but clearly far away from the reality of the teams where these frameworks are deployed on the recommendation of a consultant.

It is in these scenarios that we feel the struggle for survival: Teams looking for the autonomy to work better, the Agile Center of Excellence trying to understand where they are in the adoption of a specific framework. And here we can see things like these (many of which I have personally experienced):

  • Teams redefining the Scrum PO role to suit better the dysfunctional dynamics of that team or company
  • External Scrum Teams agreeing on adjustments to the performance evaluation process for the internal DevOps role
  • IT Supply Chain management using the same Excel as 5 years ago (worse, with the same initiatives as 5 years ago), but now they call themselves “Value Management Office” and even have a check
  • Team members saying that if things are not measured in Story Ponts, they are wrong
  • Teams members mentioning that OKRs MUST be done whether you have or do not have a strategy You HAVE TO DO OKRs! If you do not, you are not agile and you will not be as successful as Google.

The false hypothesis

As a result of the many promises to “do less with more,” “improve time to market,” “motivate teams,” etc., many of us have followed in the footsteps of the original agilists, those who signed the 2001 Manifesto, and in this “working like them” we have made a mistake: we have copied what they did instead of copying their mental models and ways of working. They were based on hacking the organization, challenging the status quo, and finding better ways of working. All these allowed the team to be part of something more important.

We have copied what they did instead of copying their mental models and ways of working

The first to pick up the gauntlet was David Anderson with Kanban and his “start where you are.” No way of working is bad if it got you where you are today. It probably has room for improvement, and that’s where continuous improvement works its magic.

The creators of Disciplined AgileScott Ambler and Mark Lines, started from a deep understanding of businesses and their realities, after careful observation of those agile implementations that have successfully scaled, defined what they originally called DAD (Disciplined Agile Delivery), and the rest is history.

In other words, DAD was born to look at the business and not the team, it was born to think differently, to expand the agile manifesto as it was naturally too small. And at its birth, it defined the different lifecycles for the different scaling levels, a guide for choosing the best option for each level based on the reality of the teams (“context matters“), and finally the different maturity levels for each activity within what they call Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI) to develop the way of working within a framework of certainty and predictability.

Beyond the team

Once we are out of the “framework prison” and understand that they are all a means and not an end, all that is left is to articulate with the rest of the organization, which is no easy task.

Although Disciplined Agile has evolved into a model that has reached Disciplined IT and Disciplined Enterprise and is expected to cover the entire organization, this change is much more complex than simply selecting a lifecycle. People can think very differently depending on their area of expertise and hierarchy. We know from research that what people do or study, physically changes and reshapes the brain. And that’s something I have learned and experienced with several Enterprise Agility University models that I’ll tell you about in a moment.

People can think very differently depending on their area of expertise and hierarchy. We know from research that what people do or study, physically changes and reshapes the brain.

This presents us with two fronts of work that we cannot neglect as we begin our journey toward enterprise agility: The first: people, their change, their adaptation. The second: Leadership.

We need to be able to lead in a changing environment and manage the impact of that change on people.

We need to be able to lead in a changing environment and manage the impact of that change on people. No framework, methodology, toolkit, knowledge base, etc. teaches us how to develop a mindset, or worse, how to develop a mindset when things are changing around us at an unprecedented rate. Most of them have the “agile mindset” as a prerequisite (even if that’s not on the box).

And even less how to build the confidence to lead in such a changing environment that makes it difficult to deliver on long-term promises.

At this point, I need to remind you that humans are not physiologically prepared for accelerated or exponential change. This is something that I have also been able to experience and learn. But I have also seen how Enterprise Agility University models can provide a long-term solution.

Whatever framework we choose to make our organization agile (and DA is no exception), without the help of people with the necessary skills, we will have a hard time truly achieving higher levels of Enterprise Agility.

That’s why I consider the Enterprise Agility University (EAU) change influencing and leadership models for exponential companies to be an indispensable complement that supports any digital (or agile) transformation effort we launch in organizations. They ensure that agility is infused into every corner of our organization and not just copycat.

With them, we integrate, for example, the 3 dimensions of value to ensure business sustainability; organizational health to create always-readyalways-responsive, and always-innovative organizations; mindset management to mobilize people; the 5 types of agility that help us structure powerful strategies for high-impact change; and more.

If you are stuck in the prison of cosmetic agility, I invite you to give it a try. I and Practia Global (the company I work for in Argentina) would be happy to guide you in your training in Disciplined Agile, as well as the EAU 40+ models, EAU M-Leadership model, or any of the other EAU programs.

Remember… time and opportunities are the only things that cannot be recovered. 


Ready to Invest in Building a Resilient Organization?

I’m pleased to announce that we’ll continue our Enterprise Agility Foundations Training around the world in April and May. Join the leading institution providing leaders, managers, and consultants with new opportunities to grow their careers. Talk to one of our trainers now and start moving in a new direction.

Walter Schraiber, Certified EA Leadership (I), Spanish, April 21th

Johana Chuquino y Daniela Imaña, Certified Change Consultant (Spanish), April 21th

Irena Pavlovska, Europe, Certified Change Consultant, April 23rd

Sandip Rananavare, Asia Pacific, Certified EA Leadership (I), April 30th 

Rose Restrepo, Latin America, Certified Change Consultant, May 5th

Greg Pitcher PK Savy, Asia Pacific, Certified Change Consultant, May 26th

From Enterprise Agility University, we hope you found our scientific newsletter useful, and we’ll see you next week.

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