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What is Disciplined Agile?

There are so many “buzz words” going around these days in project management and a plethora of new methodology flavors for organizations & Project Managers to choose from that is makes my head spin. I’ve been doing project management for a long time, and I feel like I need some commonsense guidance to the myriad of choices that face me when trying to choose the right tools for my projects. Thankfully, there is now a “Took Kit” that provides access to the tools I need in a context sensitive manner and provides a solid foundation for applying business agility tailored to any project. That Tool Kit is called “Disciplined Agile” or DA for short.

The DA tool kit starts by showing how organizational activities related to my project, like Finance, Portfolio Management, Solution Delivery, It Ops, Enterprise Architecture, Vendor Management, and many others work together. DA takes a look at what these activities should address and gives me options to choose from easily by describing the trade-offs associated with each option. So many times organizations and PMs make choices about their projects without understanding all the trade-offs they are putting into play, until later in the project when those trade-offs create roadblocks to project success. DA helps you avoid that!

The basic tenet of DA is to start where you are, do the best that you can given the situation you face, and always strive to get better as you move through project and even on to the next project. The DA Tool Kit is organized into four layers:

  1. Foundation – The conceptual underpinnings of the DA tool kit

  2. Disciplined DevOps – The streamlining of development and IT operations activities

  3. Value Streams – The flow for enterprise transformation, or FLEX, visualizes what an effective value stream looks like, enabling you to make decisions for improving each part of the organization within the context of the whole.

  4. Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE) – This enables the organization to be able to sense and respond swiftly to changes in the marketplace

“Key principles of DA include customer centricity, being pragmatic rather than purist, providing a range of agile and lean options, applying context-based practices, and optimizing flow across the entire enterprise. Applying the DA toolkit allows organizations to customize any method or framework -- such as traditional, Scrum, or SAFe – to drive outcomes that differentiate them from their competitors.” (Retrieved from

DA has been around in some form since 2009 when IBM, led by Scott Ambler, created their “Disciplined Agile Delivery” model in partnership with Mark Lines. After several updates through the years, and ownership transfers to first the Disciplined Agile Consortium in 2012, and now to the Project Management Institute (PMI®) in 2019, we have arrived at “Disciplined Agile 5.x” which now contains the book Choose your WoW! where WoW stands for “Way of Working”. PMI has brought the DA tool kit to the forefront of their strategy to leverage a more mindful, tailored approach to agility, driven by an agile and lean mindset and enabled by processes that fit their project context.

Disciplined Agile certification training is provided through the PMI network of Authorized Training Partners (ATP). PM-ProLearn is proud to be a PMI ATP for DA and excited to have one of the world’s best DA trainers on board in Mr. Devin Clinevell.

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