Are You Interested in Disciplined Agile Adoption?

Are You Interested in Disciplined Agile

I’ve been writing about Disciplined Agile (DA) since PMI bought them in 2019, including my recent post about the confusion around PMI Agile Certifications. It turns out that my earlier predictions about the marriage of PMI and DA were mostly correct!

On September 1, PMI announced their new approach for agile certifications. They have refined the 6 certifications they bought with disciplined agile, the existing PMI-ACP and a new one from Flex to create 5 certifications:

PMI agile certifications graphic

Given DA’s prior sniping about Scrum and their disdain for what they call prescriptive approaches, it is ironic to see two of the five certifications are for “Scrum Masters”. You can get all the details on the PMI site here: PMI Journey to Business Agility

PMI and Disciplined Agile Seem to be a non-Event

The thing is, while I have been banging on about PMI and the acquisition for the better part of the last year, most of you are yawning. So what, who cares? you seem to be saying.

Which makes me really curious. Is there really no appetite for Disciplined Agile adoption? Who, if anyone is interested in Disciplined Agile Adoption?

Are you disinterested because it is PMI? Or because it is Disciplined Agile? Are you comfortable with your SAFe or Scrum approaches and not interested in learning more? Is PMI not a credible source of training and certification leading to business agility?

And what happened to those people who were using Disciplined Agile before PMI bought them? These are questions I am very curious about. I would like to understand whether Disciplined Agile is going to flourish under PMI or quietly die.

So I looked to the publicly available information. Each year the VersionOne / Collabnet / Annual State of Agile Report asks the question about the agile methodology used by respondents. Scrum is always the big winner with 70-80% of the respondents claiming it, depending on how you interpret the 9% who say they use other/hybrid/multiple methodologies (see below). annual state of agile report for agile methodologies used

Later in the report, it shows the responses to the question of scaling method. Disciplined Agile Adoption seems low with Disciplined Agile Delivery getting 4% of the vote, on par with Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), Enterprise Scrum, and Lean Management. These are all dwarfed by SAFe and Scrum of Scrums. annual state of agile report for agile scaling methods

I don’t know about you but 4% actually sounds high for Disciplined Agile adoption. In my discussions with clients and other agile coaches, I hear more about LeSS. In fact, I’ve yet to encounter a client who was using DAD, had used DAD, or was planning for Disciplined Agile adoption.

Perhaps that is why no one is interested in the Disciplined Agile Certifications from PMI. If no one is interested, I can drop it like a hot potato.

Please Take this Quick Survey on PMI Disciplined Agile Adoption

Will you humor me though with a quick survey? I designed a quick anonymous survey of 4 questions on SurveyMonkey to learn more about people’s intentions.

Please help me out by taking the SurveyMonkey survey here.

Here are the four questions:

  1. Do you use a scaling approach today?
  2. If you use a scaling approach today, which of these do you use?
  3. How likely is it that your organization will adopt DAD in the near future (within 18 mos)?
  4. How likely is it that you will seek a Disciplined Agile certification in the near future (within 18 mos)?

That’s it. I hope that people respond and let me know whether these PMI certifications are valid or whether they are pretty much dead on arrival.

Too busy for 4 questions? Take 30 seconds and leave a comment below.

UPDATE October 9, 2020: Preliminary Disciplined Agile Survey Results

While we do have some responses to the survey, there are not too many, just 19. Which is not a great sample, but, let’s take a look at them.

Question 1: Do you use a Scaling Approach today?

For this question, 15 people said yes, 4 people said no.

Disciplined Agile using an agile scaling approach

Question 2: If you use a scaling approach today, which of these do you use?

Not surprisingly, eight out of 19 people said they use Scaled Agile Framework or SAFe.

The next most popular response was LeSS, Scrum of Scrums and Combo, each with three votes.

Getting two votes each was Nexus, Enterprise Scrum and homegrown or custom solutions.

Disciplined Agile Delivery just got one vote out of the 19 respondents.

Disciplined Agile Survey which scaling approach do you use?

Question 3: How likely is it that your organization will adopt DAD in the near future (within 18 mos)?

The results here are pretty clear. There were two fence-sitters who said they wee neither likely or unlikely, and one person who responded that they were somewhat likely. The other 12 respondents said they were either unlikely or very unlikely.

Disciplined Agile How Likely to Adopt DA

Question 4: How likely is it that you will seek a Disciplined Agile certification in the near future (within 18 mos)?

Finally we look at the likelihood of pursuing DA certification in the next 18 months. I was a little surprised to see the numbers shift from the previous question to indicate a higher likelihood of people pursuing DA certification. One person said very likely, another likely and four others said somewhat likely. Two people were on the fence and the remaining 11 people were in the unlikely or very unlikely position.

Disciplined Agile How Likely to Get DA Certification

I will continue to try to get additional responses and update this chart as it makes sense.



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By Anthony Mersino

Anthony Mersino is the founder of Vitality Chicago, an Agile Training and Coaching firm devoted to helping Teams THRIVE and Organizations TRANSFORM. He is also the author of two books, Agile Project Management, and Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.


  1. DA and PMI is a non-event. Agile training and certification are already highly fragmented. I’m rolling out Scrum Master, Product Owner certifications with Wisconsin School of Business CPED, and a whole Agile PM Certification track. Why? Because we can, and the Wisconsin brand is as strong as any other. Most organizations, if they are half-smart, recognize that they are somewhere on a continuum between agile and phase-based project management. Many organizations are realizing that the pragmatic approach is to get good training on all methodologies, be open-minded, assess your culture, risk tolerance and vertical, and craft your own path. Jesse Fewell said it best: methodology does not matter. As many say – value delivery is what does matter. So – get good training in any basic agile methodology and don’t worry about the pedigree of your certification – at this point, it does not matter. DA with PMI is just noise.

    1. Shawn, thank you for weighing in. I am beginning to think you are correct that this is a non-event. And I am excited to hear about your success with the Wisconsin School of Business and the PM certification track.

      My only question is whether PMI can appeal to the roughly 1 million PMPs who faithfully stick with PMI and re-certify every 3 years. Will PMI be able to encourage them to adopt any of these agile certifications? After 8 years experience with the PMI-ACP, it seems unlikely.

      Unless PMI is trying to appeal to those outside the PMP faithful – to attract new people. In that case, I think the Scrum organizations have a huge headstart that PMI cannot overcome.

      Anyway, thanks for your comments!

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