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How does the Declaration of Interdependence help the Scrum Team Increase ROI? In early 2005, with echoes of the Agile Manifesto, the Declaration of Interdependence (DOI) was published. Many of the 15 luminaries who Collaborated in publishing this Declaration were also signatories to the Agile Manifesto. At first glance, it seems like a close relation of the Manifesto, but there was a distinction: the Declaration is aimed at Management in general, not just IT Agile Projects. One of the participants, Alastair Cockburn, wrote an article on his return from the meeting, where he says:-

” How Would A Manager Implement Agile Development With Respect To The Team And Higher Management? What If A Product (Not Project) Manager Wants To Use The General Ideas Of Agile Development, But Isn’t Making Software?”.

Increase ROI: Gallup Report

He points out more examples of general Managers and Teams and some of their predicaments, and proposes that the Declaration provides assistance in how to Manage Projects and Products utilizing lessons learnt from Agile Development. As this Roadmap was published a mere 4 years after the Manifesto, it initially did not receive much in the way of accolades and attention.

In 2005, it was unlikely that companies were champing at the bit to execute Agile Practices throughout their business. There were most likely many Agile Project failures at the time that could be held up as examples of why not to embrace Agile. After all the movement was in its infancy, if you ignore RAD and XP. Now we have many more years experience , and there is recognition that Agile could be the answer to work in the 21st century. In the February 2017 Gallup report on the State of the American Workplace, Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO states:-.

“THE VERY PRACTICE OF MANAGEMENT NO LONGER WORKS”.

He recommends a solution for the disengaged United States Workplace, where only a third of Workers are engaged, consisting of:-.

“Call An Executive Committee Meeting And Commit To Transforming Your Workplace From Old Command-And-Control To One Of High Development And Ongoing Coaching Conversations”.

The Workplace malaise described in the Gallup Report is not limited to the US, it is a worldwide phenomenon, even in countries that typically had a productive and invested workforce. Clearly this is a great time to review the Declaration Of Interdependence.

Increase ROI: The Six Statements of the Declaration.

Declaration Of Interdependence.

Agile And Adaptive Approaches For Linking People, Projects And Value.

We Are A Community Of Project Leaders That Are Highly Successful At Delivering Results. To Achieve These Results:.

  1. ‘We Increase Return On Investment By Making Continuous Flow Of Value Our Focus.’.
  2. ‘We Deliver Reliable Results By Engaging Customers In Frequent Interactions And Shared Ownership.’.
  3. ‘We Expect Uncertainty And Manage For It Through Iterations, Anticipation, And Adaptation.’.
  4. ‘We Unleash Creativity And Innovation By Recognizing That Individuals Are The Ultimate Source Of Value, And Creating An Environment Where They Can Make A Difference.’.
  5. ‘We Boost Performance Through Group Accountability For Results And Shared Responsibility For Team Effectiveness.’.
  6. ‘We Improve Effectiveness And Reliability Through Situationally Specific Strategies, Processes And Practices.’.

[© 2005 David Anderson, Sanjiv Augustine, Christopher Avery, Alistair Cockburn, Mike Cohn, Doug DeCarlo, Donna Fitzgerald, Jim Highsmith, Ole Jepsen, Lowell Lindstrom, Todd Little, Kent McDonald, Pollyanna Pixton, Preston Smith and Robert Wysocki.]
(Numbers Have Been Inserted Against Each Statement).

Reviewing the Declaration

While this post is concentrating on Return On Investment (ROI), which is expressly mentioned in the very first declaration, all of the statements, if complied with, will deliver what was expected. Each statement has the underlying formula, as described by Alastair Cockburn:-.

“We Accomplish X – By Doing Y”.

Looking through the lens of ROI, let’s take a look at these statements.

  1. ‘We Increase Return On Investment’.

This is the objective of all sustainable businesses; the Declaration of Interdependence proposes accomplishing this objective by:

“Making Continuous Flow Of Value Our Focus”.

Clearly, any form of production that does not experience any bottlenecks is operating at a high level of efficiency. Providing the correct Product or service is being delivered, this will Increase ROI. However, one can have a perfect, defect-free throughput, but if the result does not match expectations, ROI will not be achieved, and there will be waste of time and resources. The next statement addresses this dilemma.

  1. ‘We Deliver Reliable Results’.

Here is the method to ensure that results match expectations:

“By Engaging Customers In Frequent Interactions And Shared Ownership”.

If the Customers and Stakeholders are both involved in and dedicated to the Development, what is provided will be what was needed. Once again, Waste and rework is prevented. Furthermore, because the Customers are watching every step of the process and expecting Continuous Delivery, there is an incentive to Deliver quickly, not because of a Delivery date, but because the Team does not want to disappoint the Customer.

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  1. ‘We Expect Uncertainty And Manage For It’.

Digital disruption has made the speed of Change so fast that it is extremely challenging to begin a Project and finish it without non-negotiable Changes being required en route. As the Stakeholders are engaged in the Process, such Changes will not be neglected and should not be overlooked. The DOI states that this can be Managed by.

“Iterations, Anticipation, And Adaptation”.

Agile Development specifically caters for Change, and all of the Frameworks permit the addition of Changes during Development. Once again, what is delivered is what is required, even though there was a ‘Fork In The Road’ during the Project, and there is no need for fixes and Changes.

  1. ‘We Unleash Creativity And Innovation’.

A workforce that is not engaged will not deliver according to Plan. To keep the Team members enthusiastic and creative, they must feel Empowered and see the results of their efforts. The statement expresses this well, and recognises the needs of the Millennial employee, who wants to Work with a purpose, not merely for financial reward and security.

“By Recognizing That Individuals Are The Ultimate Source Of Value, And Creating An Environment Where They Can Make A Difference”.

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  1. ‘We Boost Performance’.

This statement look back to Statement 2. The Team consists of the Stakeholders, not simply the “doers”. The responsibility for a successful final Product is shared by the Product Owner (the Voice of the Customer) and Product Developers alike.

“Through Group Accountability For Results And Shared Responsibility For Team Effectiveness”.

  1. ‘We Improve Effectiveness And Reliability’.

No two Projects are alike. While there are practices that need to be followed, this must not be a slavish adherence to theory, where it clearly is not the best fit for the situation. For example, if there is a legal requirement to carry out a Change, it needs to be done, usually in an extremely brief timeframe. If the rulebook requires that a cost estimation and impact analysis be done, and this swallows the time available for delivery, this clearly needs a rethink. This does not imply that the rulebook is thrown away, by any methods, but this is the very meaning of Agile, catering for best fit for the situation at hand.

“Reliability Through Situationally Specific Strategies, Processes And Practices”.

Many Organisations adopt a “Best Practice” or Framework and then play with it till it bears no resemblance to its original format. This does not benefit anyone in either the short or long run. This statement is not a licence to fiddle.

Our Favourite Agile Books

We found these books great for finding out more information on Agile Scrum:

Increase ROI: Does embracing the DOI enhance ROI?

The short answer is “yes”, if there is compliance. There are many resemblances with precepts from Lean Manufacturing in all the Statements. While the Statements support efficient and appropriate Delivery, they are inadequate by themselves. A Framework is required that will in fact Deliver the Project, whether that be a Lean, Kanban or Scrum Project.

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