Tool kit
Disciplined Agile is a Hybrid
Scott Ambler
July 7, 2020

The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit has always been a hybrid of great strategies from the very beginning, with the focus being on how all of these strategies fit together in practice. In the current release of DA we made its hybrid nature explicit when we refactored the foundation, depicted in Figure 1, into its own layer.  You can see this in that we clearly indicate that Agile, Lean, and Serial (traditional) strategies are all foundational aspects of DA.

Figure 1. The foundation of DA is fundamentally hybrid in nature.

Disciplined Agile is a hybrid

We like to say that DA does the heavy process lifting so that you don’t have to. We’ve mined the various methods, frameworks, and other sources to identify potential practices and strategies that your team may want to experiment with and adopt. DA puts these techniques into context, exploring fundamental concepts such as what are the advantages and disadvantages of the technique, when would you apply the technique, when wouldn’t you apply the technique, and to what extent would you apply it? Answers to these questions are critical when a team is choosing its way of working (WoW). Figure 2 shows that DA is a  hybrid tool kit that puts great ideas from PMBOK Guide, Scrum, SAFe, Spotify, Agile Modeling (AM), Kanban, and several other methods into context.  

Figure 2. Some of the process sources leveraged by DA.

Some of the DA process sources

DA has taken this approach because no framework, no book of knowledge (BoK), is complete. For example, XP is the source of technical practices such as test-driven development (TDD), refactoring, and pair programming but has nothing to say about project management. The PMBoK Guide has great strategies for project managers, but has nothing to say about data analytics. The Agile Data (AD) method has great strategies for creating and evolving data sources but has nothing to say about organizing agile teams. Scrum offers great strategies such as product backlogs, sprint/iteration planning, and daily coordination meetings for organizing agile teams but has nothing to say about documentation strategies. Agile Modeling gives us model storming, architecture envisioning, and continuous documentation strategies but has nothing to say about governance. You get the point.

Each framework, each BoK, has its specific focus and thus is not sufficient on its own. The upside is that there are great strategies presented by each, often in great detail. The downside is that each source is locally optimize, they are inconsistent with one another, and there is very little advice for how to integrate these sources. This is where DA steps in – DA is hybrid that combines and puts these great ideas into context, providing advice for how to apply them effectively when you choose your WoW.


Scott Ambler Disciplined Agile, Co-FounderProject Management Institute (PMI), VP
Scott Ambler
Disciplined Agile, Co-FounderProject Management Institute (PMI), VP