The Fundamental Principle for Applying Agile

June 12, 2013

I’ve presented an agility model in my past couple of posts, with the intent of this model to provide a means to explore what it means to be agile. After a little more thought, I feel that I need to add a couple of things. First, I want to strengthen the model to provide greater clarity:

The core now explicitly lists the three foundational components: By examining and reflecting on these three components, it is possible to see how three different domains are impacted:

Business: Prioritizing work based on customer value, sound economics, risk/reward tradeoffs along with and flowing that value as quickly as possible – by combing essential tasks as eliminating or reducing the impact of non-value-add tasks – to produce the best possible business outcome.

Technical: This is software development-specific, where we need to be striving for technical excellence, maintaining good design and leveraging specific practices that support and improve the ability to produce the greatest business outcome for the last amount of effort expended.

Health: This includes things such as a sustainable pace, effective, efficient communication, minimal politics, autonomy, trust, respective inquiry, accountability, commitment, development of people and teams, clarity, and alignment of people, teams and the organization. All of which influence long-term productivity and organizational viability.

Revolving around this core are the three interrelated entities that need to support agility by embracing and exhibiting certain qualities (mindset, approach, behaviors/actions) of the values and principles contained within the core. These entities flow from one to another, reinforcing and supporting each other.

The next step is to articulate how this agile model should be applied, recognizing that organizations are not only different, but that they will be starting from different points. I wanted a simple expression that captures what I consider to be the key principle to use in applying agile, meaning that the expression must, a) stand the test of time, allowing for new practices and techniques to be introduced, b) be succinct, and c) be comprehensible.

I settled on two words: Disciplined Simplicity.

Think about it for a minute. Being disciplined allows us to get away from considering agile as ad-hoc; we can have the conversation about what agile discipline looks like. Discipline exists, from being disciplined about what our priorities are from a business perspective to how we’re implementing those priorities from a technical perspective to how we’re treating people who are doing the work.

Simplicity, on the other hand, gets us thinking and talking about what the shortest, most direct approach that is possible while remaining disciplined. We have an overdose of process discipline in most organizations, and focusing on optimizing the value stream (and optimizing the whole) using a lightweight – yet disciplined – approach will mean discarding certain things that companies value today in favor of other approaches.

Understanding what Disciplined Simplicity means across the businesses, technical, and health domains requires a great deal more effort than understanding something like the Scrum framework or one or two technical practices. Disciplined Simplicity gets us thinking about how to cut through the complex in very direct ways, creating a bridge from our current state to produce a variety of desirable outcomes based on the values and principles of learning, lean and agile organizations (I’m sure that you can think of other desirable outcomes):

  • Greater ROI
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Closeness to the customer
  • Greater adaptability
  • Greater speed to market
  • Predictable, high-quality delivery cycles
  • Greater visibility
  • Reduced risk
  • Motivated and engaged employees
  • Continuous improvement

What do you think? Does Disciplined Simplicity qualify as a fundamental principle for applying lean and agile?


Mitchelle Garry said...

Wonderful post, Dave. I am pretty sure that your concepts here would really be applicable in business. Seldom I consider custom software development factors as something that should be considered in looking at a business, especially that we are now in a computer age. But I realize it now.

June 30, 2013 at 10:50 PM
Dave Moran said...


Thank you! I believe that many of the agile concepts can apply to business, particularly since they are built on top of the principles of lean and learning organizations. What we would need to do is remove anything software-specific and add any specific required for a particular business -- keeping things simple and flexible, of course!

July 2, 2013 at 4:04 PM
sp calvin said...

Searching for a simple to project management apps? You are not the only one. Venture supervisors have found that a percentage of the applications that should make life less demanding have really muddled their lives. A number of the undertaking administration applications that are available are excessively mind boggling and not extremely easy to understand.

January 3, 2016 at 2:17 AM
Rashel Ahmed said...

Pondering what web layouts are? All things considered, to place it in basic terms, web layouts are semi-completed, pre composed pages that can be utilized to make and host sites in less time. templates

January 30, 2016 at 5:15 AM
AB DE -Villers said...

Joomla is an open source arrangement that is unreservedly accessible to everybody. Most likely the best general substance administration framework out there.It is straightforward - it is to a great degree adjustable, suitable for essentially anything. content management system

February 1, 2016 at 1:02 PM

We have a couple of alternatives here: get a book, manual,Joomla Tutorials, take a Joomla instructional course, go to meetings and Joomla workshops or even introduce Joomla on a web host and begin playing. In any case, the initial step is to get the starting establishment of Joomla! information that you can expand on.

February 28, 2016 at 1:38 AM

Post a Comment