Disciplined Agile Delivery

Delivery is made through discipline. The practice of committing to results and following the processes and practices required to achieve them.

Discipline doesn’t come naturally to organizations, teams, or the individuals in them. It is an outcome of the way that these individuals have structured their planning, contribution, and communication with others. Hence the need for frameworks like Kanban, Scrum, and SAFe. They build discipline into everyone’s work process.

There are ways to cultivate discipline beyond development teams and their frameworks. It can become a part of your company’s culture so embedded, that it starts to flow though most people’s actions regardless of unit, function, or level.

Discipline can be built into your organization’s mode of operations in more than one way:

  • Discipline through technology and/or process. This is where the value of CRM, ERP, MOM, and other systems comes into play. You must complete that field before you can proceed to the next step. You are required to perform that action before you can compete your process. Your compliance is required by the very tool you have to use for getting things done. No way of going around it.
  • Discipline through design. A factory had systematic problems with workers misplacing the tools. They just couldn’t get them to put the tools back to their intended location for the next shift. So they painted the tools that had to go in the red toolbox in red. And the ones that went in the blue toolbox in blue. Suddenly, the tools started to end up in the right toolboxes. Such is the power of discipline through design.
  • Discipline through accountability. Every morning, we will meet in a daily standup and share what we did yesterday and what issues we faced. Do nothing once, shame on you. Do nothing twice, shame on the team. Sooner or later, peer pressure kicks in. Accountability is a powerful tool in a disciplined agile organization’s toolbox.

Stay disciplined, be flexible. This is the way to deliver today and stay relevant for tomorrow.

P.S. Further reading on this topic can be found in Douglas Burnet Smith and Jon Katzenbach’s book, The Discipline of Teams (Goodreads). In the book, Burnet Smith and Katzenbach start off with the idea that discipline is wisdom—and explore actionable ways for individuals and teams to become “wise.”