At Vitality Chicago, we’ve been delivering Disciplined Agile Training since PMI released the training materials late last year. We first started teaching the Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) Course in November of 2020 and the Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM) Course in January of 2021.
In this post, I want to share some of what we have learned about the training to provide you an idea of what to expect when you take Disciplined Agile training.
Background on the PMI Disciplined Agile Training and Certifications
The current version of the Disciplined Agile Training materials was created by the Project Management Institute (PMI) based on the extensive body of knowledge developed by the Disciplined Agile Consortium. You may recall that PMI bought Disciplined Agile in 2019 and folded the Disciplined Agile Consortium into the organization.
The Disciplined Agile training is delivered by Authorized Training Partners (ATP) like Vitality Chicago. Previously, ATPs were required to have Certified Disciplined Agile Instructors (CDAI) such as myself to deliver the training. That may be changing in the future.
For those of you who are interested in getting trained in Disciplined Agile, here’s a quick outline of what the DASM and DASSM training courses entail. For each course, I will provide an overview of course availability, how training is delivered, and what the training class experience will feel like. Most people choose to take the certification exam after the training so I will also provide some information on what you need to do to prepare for the exam.
The Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) Course
The DASM course is packed with lots of great content to help individuals new to Disciplined Agile or agile way of working understand how Disciplined Agile works and how to practice agile way of working. The DASM course is great for team members as well as for team leads that are new to agile.
The DASM course contains 2 full days worth of content or 14 PDU credits. Vitality Chicago offers several training options to provide students with flexibility on how and when they want to take the class. The two most popular options are:
- 3 half-day classes scheduled in the morning on weekdays, from 8 am to 1 pm CDT
- 2 full-day classes, scheduled on consecutive Saturdays, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm CDT
It seems that the weekends are preferred for those who cannot take time away during the week. We experimented with offering 2 consecutive full-day online training courses though those were hard on students who found it difficult to stay focused and absorb the content. And scheduling on consecutive Saturdays allows participants to have some social/family life. You can click here to see what is currently available on our training site at Vitality Chicago.
From a content perspective, the DASM course has nine lessons that cover the basics of Agile, a description of DA and the DA Mindset, and how to effectively use the DA tool kit to help your team choose and evolve their way of working in a context-sensitive and pragmatic way. The DASM course also covers fundamental lean concepts and provides lean tips to help agile practitioners start recognizing and applying lean concepts. Participants will be able to immediately start applying the newly acquired knowledge and skills back at their work.
The Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM) Course
Though the DASSM course is positioned as a course for those that have two or more years of agile team lead experience, I think this is a great course for anyone that wants to improve their agile leadership skills. The DASSM course can be taken right after taking the DASM course if one wishes to further learn to become an effective team lead. (As an FYI, PMI’s Disciplined Agile considers the team lead role to include Product Owners, Architecture Lead and Scrum Masters).
However, I have to put a disclaimer here saying that PMI may NOT grant you the DASSM certification if you cannot prove that you have two or more years of experience in an agile team lead role in a reference check, even if you pass the DASSM exam after taking the course. I still recommend that people take the DASSM training because you will learn how to be a more effective team lead as well as the tools and techniques needed in that role. They will help you as you prepare to take on that role.
The DASSM content includes topics one would expect from leadership training. This includes how to build a high-performing team using Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development (Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing) and what you need to do as the team lead to support the team get to the performing stage as soon as possible.
The DASSM Course also dives into Emotional Intelligence (EQ), covering what a team lead needs to know about EQ including self-awareness, self-management, social skills, and social awareness and the need to improve in these areas to become an effective facilitator and a leader. In addition, the DASSM training devotes time to conflict management skills which are critically important when conflict arises within a team or between two teams.
The DASSM Course also teaches you about how to use the DA tool kit in complex situations, dives into Disciplined DevOps and Value Stream layers of DA, explores various agile modeling and planning methods, as well as metrics and reporting needed for the team and the organization. The DASSM class is full of useful information and insights that team leads need to learn and practice to enable business agility in an organization.
The DASSM course was also created as 2 full days of training or 14 PDUs by PMI but there’s more content and complexity than DASM thus we re-structured this course into:
- 4 half-day classes scheduled typically in the morning on weekdays, from 8 am-Noon CDT
- 2 full-day classes, scheduled on consecutive Saturdays, from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm CDT
Scheduling on consecutive Saturdays allows participants to have some social/family life. You can click here to see what is currently available on our training site at Vitality Chicago.
How the DASM and DASSM Training Sessions are Conducted
Currently, all DA training courses are delivered online by live instructor using Zoom and online collaboration tools (miro/mural) for group exercises. Once students experience the format and tools used to conduct the DA training, they really embrace the format and the way the course is taught. We’ve received nothing but positive feedback on our delivery method. It is highly interactive and students enjoy the learning experience. Participants in the DASM and DASSM classes are typically grouped into cohorts with between 4 to 6 people/group so that they can collaborate and work on group exercises in breakout rooms whenever there are group exercises. Cohorts are then brought back into the main room and asked to share their results with the rest of the class.
Both the DASM and DASSM courses consist of nine lessons and each lesson contains a set of quizzes, polls, and exercises to keep participants engaged and collaborate with one another. Participants are challenged to think and stay engaged throughout the class.
Preparing for the Disciplined Agile Exams
Once students complete the DASM or DASSM training class, Vitality Chicago offers a complimentary Exam Prep session to help prepare for the DA exam. In the session, we provide students with exam prep tips including how to prepare for the exam, recommendations on exam-taking techniques, and as well as a sample set of quality DASM or DASSM exam questions that mimic the real exam and explanation on why the answer is correct and/or where you can find the supporting materials. This allows students to test their knowledge and gauge their readiness to pass the exam.
Wrapping it Up
I hope that you found this overview of the Disciplined Agile Training helpful. If you or your organization are looking to adopt or improve your agile way of working, I recommend that you seriously consider the Disciplined Agile training. PMI has created very a valuable DA training curriculum to help individuals, teams, and organizations thrive in the rapidly changing environment we live in these days.
You can check out our current Disciplined Agile training offerings on our Agile Training Page. You can also check out the testimonials from students that have recently taken our DASM or DASSM classes.