Governance in Agile Contexts

Governance in Agile Contexts

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I remember my first reading of the DAD – Disciplined Agile Delivery framework by Scott Ambler that one of the areas he emphasized was governance.

When I first read it I had two immediate reactions:

  1. What did he mean by “governance”?
  2. And why care about it within agility; wasn’t that something agile intended to minimize or eliminate with transparency?

So to say that I was less than impressed by DAD initially was an understatement. But over time, I’ve kept up with Scott’s writings and explanations of his intentions with DAD. And to be honest, I like what I’m hearing of late.

Here is a recent series that Scott published focused towards governance on the DAD blog:

Here are the key points he made in the “Mindset” post:

  1. Lead by example
  2. Be a servant leader
  3. Motivation over management
  4. Enablement over audit
  5. Communicate clearly, honestly, and in a timely manner
  6. Streamline collaboration
  7. Trust but verify
  8. Focus on mitigating risk, not reviewing documents
  9. Learn continuously
  10. Consider both the long and short term
  11. Be a great host

If you’ve ever attended one of my agile leadership workshops, you know that “trust” is something I actively touch on. I often speak about the notion of “Trust, but Verify” as not being a trust model. Given my history, I just had to point out Scott’s handling of it:

Trust but verify. Agile is based on trust, but to ensure that the right thing is happening within your organization there needs to be verification of that. Governors can do this by monitoring teams via several strategies. These strategies include asking people what’s going on, automated metrics (via team dashboards), looking at information captured by information radiators, attending team demos, and as a last resort asking teams to produce status reports to address questions that can’t be answered via automated metrics.

I even like his handling of some of the tougher bits for governance in an agile context. Here I interpret it as, yes a verify model, but with high variability as to how to verify and an overriding emphasis on team and organizational trust.

I encourage you to read the entire set of articles as I think it will give you a new appreciation FOR governance and ideas on HOW to effectively implement it within agile contexts. Whether you leverage DAD or another framework.

And I want to give kudos to Scott and his team for how they handled the advice. I must start delving into DAD more, as I believe there is more wisdom, experience, and useful guidance there.

Stay agile my friends!


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