The Power of DA Toolkit

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Before my introduction to the Disciplined Agile toolkit, I was using SCAMPER guiding questions to challenge the status quo. Many purist teams are diligently doing all the ceremonies related to a particular framework. However, there was nothing much to show. There were signs of chronic problems such as low-velocity, poor software quality, high burnout, and subsequently leading to high turnover among the staff, lack of collaboration, a lot of rework, unhappy stakeholders, to name a few.

As a coach, I challenge the teams to find ways to improve the practice by asking powerful questions. The SCAMPER technique helped me to start robust discussions using powerful questions designed to get team members talking constructively about a problem. But this approach on its own has a challenge, especially when the team is new to Agile. Many new teams link Agile to Scrum, and it is further complicated when equipped with only CSM - Certification from Scrum Alliance. The team does not have the exposure or the experience to participate in a brainstorming session. It turns out to be time-consuming exercise as there was nothing to refer to, forcing the coach to intervene before time and guide the team all the way through. Even when going through the rigger, many times, we did not come to a reasonable resolution as teams get stuck within the Agile framework they are using and can not think outside the box, or they were unaware of the options they have.

And here comes the beauty of DA toolkit. Now when I combine my SCAMPER guiding questions with DA toolkit, these powerful questions send people into the realm of discovery (Whitworth et al. 2007). Powerful questions work because they are genuinely open. You do not ask with a “correct” answer in mind but encouraging introspection, leading to greater creativity and perspicacity. The moment I parachute the DA Toolkit in the midst, I can see the enormous energy that it generates. Now the team has something to refer to along with the DA principles of Pragmatism, Context Counts and Choice is Good. It is like removing the shackles. The Five Steps For Choosing Your Ways of Working (WOW) in DA helps in guiding the team to the resolution that they can experiment with and learn from it. The same way as SCAMPER facilitates continuous improvement through creative thinking and problem-solving.

To quote Thomas Edison “There’s a way to do it better – find it.” This is what innovation is about; it’s about improving existing processes and concepts instead of creating something entirely new. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you can make it more effective by choosing the right combination. The SCAMPER method and Discipline Agile are both built on this understanding.

The five steps of choosing your WoW in Disciplined Agile are

  1. Analyze the context

  2. Select best-fit lifecycle

  3. Connect the dots

  4. Make some choices

  5. Guided continuous improvement (GCI)

The seven SCAMPER techniques are

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