The DA FLEX Mindset

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Table of Contents

The DA FLEX Mindset

DA FLEX is based on:

  • systems thinking
  • taking a scientific approach
  • a focus on time to value
  • the importance of quality
  • a drive for continuous learning

The bottom line is that DA FLEX represents a body of knowledge that is continuously growing based on what works. It includes not just practices but an underlying model of how things can be achieved effectively.

See  Systems Thinking Philosophy as it Applies to Frameworks, Methods, and Approaches for more.

The Foundations of DA FLEX

DA FLEX is an integration of the work Net Objectives had done for almost 20 years in Agile and Lean methods into Disciplined Agile. It is not a set of pre-determined practices, nor a framework.  Rather it is what we have found that works to achieve business agility, the quick realization of business value predictably, sustainably and with high quality.It is based on making the right decisions, at the right time with the right people. These decisions are intended to achieve particular objectives. To keep it from being abstract, we have created a set or practices that can be used in certain situations.  This triad of decisions, objectives and practices are defined within a context of principles (guidance) to follow, laws of nature to be aware of and a philosophy of learning that we’ve found to be effective.

This relationship is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The dimensions of FLEX

DA FLEX explicitly states the objectives that must be met in order to achieve business agility.  Decisions on which practices are to be used are made according to the context you are in and the principles and learning philosophy that has been demonstrated to work.  Natural laws need to be attended to because when they are not, they will still impact you.

The principles of DA FLEX

  • Eliminate waste
  • Build quality in
  • Learn pragmatically
  • Keep options open
  • Deliver value quickly
  • Respect people
  • Optimize the whole
  • Build in resilience

The transformation philosophy of DA FLEX

Transformation is a strong word. It goes beyond adopting a method.  Truly transforming an organization requires learning how to learn at the organizational level. DA FLEX promotes this by providing understanding as to why things work. While organizations are complicated and not easily understood, there are many principles and relationships and natural laws that when understood provide insights into how to improve an organization’s effectiveness.

The natural laws that DA FLEX respects

There are natural laws that must be attended to in developing products and services. These are akin to  attending to gravity, compression strength and elasticity when building bridges.  You can ignore them, but they won’t ignore you. An example is overloading people with too many different projects results in multi-tasking which lowers their effectiveness and creates additional work to be done.

See Laws of Development and Innovation in software development is leveraged by laws for more.

The dilemma that must be solved

It is clear that people need to be given a well-defined starting point. The larger the organization the greater the need. But it is also clear that there is on one-size fits-all. In addition, the greater change you demand, the greater the chance of overwhelming the people undertaking the adoption.

DA FLEX’s philosophy of adoption

DA FLEX resolves this dilemma by providing:

  1. A well defined starting point based on the organization undertaking the adoption. It only requires as much change as the organization can absorb.
  2. Options for different practices if the initial set of practices are problematic.
  3. Options for next steps after the initial start has been sufficiently accomplished.

DA FLEX does this by taking advantages of patterns of success and challenge. This requires:

Net Objectives suggests not taking canned solutions unless they are the only possibility for movement forward. Some companies are so big that it is easier to take what people are doing now and tie it together with SAFe than it is to see if there is a better way to do things. In these situations an “all-in-all-the-way” approach makes sense.

DA FLEX’s philosophy applied to other methods

DA FLEX’s philosophy of adoption can be applied to Scrum, SAFe and the Kanban Method as follows.

Applying DA FLEX to Scrum. DA FLEX considers different frameworks, methods and approaches as tools in its toolbox. Think of DA FLEX’s starting point as the top shelf of a toolbox. That’s its starting point. One can apply this same thinking to Scrum. That is, we can start with Scrum’s practices, roles, and artifacts, but recognize that there are other options if need. See Scrum as Example for more.

Applying DA FLEX to SAFe. FLEX can be used to tailor SAFe prior to its implementation so that a company can start off with an instance of SAFe more tailored to them. See The DA FLEX Playbook for SAFe for more.

DA FLEX’s philosophy of learning

We built DA FLEX on the basis that people learn best by being given well defined starting points that have been tailored to them. At some point, people will run into challenges with these starting points. Sometimes the starting points were not optimal. Sometimes they are, but removing the impediments is difficult. The challenge is to understand when another practice should be used or when the impediments to the current one should be overcome. DA FLEX provides insights into answering these questions and the provides guidance in how to either use a different practice or how to overcome a current practice’s impediments.

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