Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master (DALSM)

Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master from DA USD $50 Annually

Product Name: Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master

Product Description: Being a Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master (DALSM) indicates that you: 1) Are an experienced leader in agile solution delivery 2) Have the potential to lead your team in improving their way of working (WoW) 3) Are on your way to becoming a generalizing specialist 4) Have the potential to be a “junior coach” under the guidance of a senior coach (someone who is likely a Certified Disciplined Agile Coach)

Review by Anthony C Mersino on February 24, 2020

This information is common to all my DA Reviews. To prepare for the Certified Disciplined Agile exam, I took training from one of the Disciplined Agile trainers. I thought the instructor was very good. Despite doing some pre-work (I read the first 6 chapters of the DA book “Choose Your Way of Working”), I had a hard time wrapping my head around exactly what DA was. I think it is best described as a context driven tool for decision-making. It is helpful for each single team, though I think it is more applicable to scaling beyond single team agile.

The Disciplined Agile approach is to take what they can from others and then tweak them. For example, DA revised the 4 original values and 12 original principles of the Agile Manifesto, expanding each of them. In addition, they created DA specific principles, and then they borrowed quite liberally from other frameworks like Scrum, from Agile Modeling and from RUP.

I think the framework could be simplified considerably to make it more consumable. Visiting the website is like diving into the deep end of a very large lake. I found that even in the first day of training class all the materials just seemed like a big blob without a solid organization structure or outline. I had a hard time adding it to what I already knew about agile.

One thing that stood out to me in the readings, website and during the training class was the constant pep talk about how much better DA was than alternatives. Perhaps I was more sensitive because I was coming from a Scrum background, but it seemed like an unnecessary amount of sniping or criticizing other approaches. Scrum was described as too rigid, it contained too much weird terminology and adherents were “purists”. SAFe is too prescriptive. The irony is that DA incorporated all those alternatives and then they renamed things to suit with their own “weird” language.

There is also a consistency challenge. DA includes a certification for Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master though they purposefully don’t have a role for “Scrum Master” in the DA approach. They use Team Leader instead. Huh?
There were a number of other minor versioning issues and I suspect these will be addressed by PMI as part of this acquisition and integration.
I think the main value of DA is a set of considerations, choices and recommendations based on your context and most pressing challenges. DA calls these process goals and they shouldn’t be confused with process blades which was one of those weird things that DA made up. Anyway, those process goals and the underlying logic could easily become a smartphone App or a Chatbot powered by Watson.

The DALSM Certification
Now let’s look at some specifics for the Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master. The certification builds on the prior certifications including the Disciplined Agilist (DA) which is more like a membership and the CDA which requires an exam.

Applicable Role: Scrum Master

Prerequisites: Applicants for the DALSM must take DA training, pass the CDA exam, and gain 2 years of experience in a lead role (PO, TL/SM, AO).  Applicants may then submit their application to DA for review and approval. The application must include references from two separate agile teams (ideally in which the DA toolkit was applied).

 Cost: Applicants must take a training course and pass the CDA assessment. If you fail the exam on the first attempt, additional attempts are $150. There is no additional fee to apply for the DALSM.

 Renewal Requirements: Like the DA membership and CDA certification, the DALSM certification must be renewed every year. There is a $50 annual membership fee as well as at least 7 hours of learning, 4 of which needs to be about Disciplined Agile.

Popularity / Recognition: The DALSM is not very well known or popular. It pales in comparison to certifications from Scrum.org, Scrum Alliance and even PMI’s PMI-ACP. We’ve given it a popularity score of 2 out of 10.

Bottom Line: The DA framework is both quirky and interesting. The DALSM certification is a step up from both the DA and CDA certifications. It requires 2 years of verified experience with application of the DA toolkit. I place a small premium on the fact that it requires both an exam and two years of experience. While it is unlikely to affect your marketability, gaining the knowledge of the DA toolkit should give you more confidence and broader tools than without it.

On the downside, the DA framework was careful to NOT adopt the Scrum Master title for the role of team leader. So having a Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master certification is incongruent and I predict this will be eliminated by PMI. For that, I give it a value score of 1 on a scale of 0 to 5.

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  • Disciplined Agile is more of a second-tier provider and doesn’t have the following of some of the top tier providers
  • Must pass the CDA exam which is rigorous
  • Experience applying the DA framework in a leadership role is required, making it slightly more valuable than an exam only certification
  • The Disciplined Agile framework provides a useful and extensive set of resources through the website and books


  • The Digital Agile Lean Scrum Master certification is virtually unknown and few or no employers are looking for it
  • It is incongruent that the DALSM is a Scrum Master certification even though DA chose to use a different term (Team Lead) for the role in the framework
  • Must be renewed every year
  • DA materials could be more consistent and could be updated to be more tolerant of other agile frameworks like Scrum
  • The DA searchable directory is only available to members
  • Applicants must take a DA Training course from a DA trainer

Disciplined Agile Consortium Profile and Contact Information

Description from WebsiteDisciplined Agile Consortium (DAC) is the governing body for certification in The Disciplined Agile (DA) Toolkit - A Foundation for Business Agility. We offer training and certification services to those requesting to become certified instructors, coaches and partners. DAC supports the evolution of Disciplined Agile (DA), which provides light-weight guidance to help organizations streamline their processes in a context-sensitive manner, providing a solid foundation for business agility.
Year Founded2012
Thought LeadershipScott Ambler and Mark Lines led initial the development and thought leadership for DAD. Scott Ambler was an early adopter of object modeling and became an instructor on the Rational Unified Process (RUP). He joined IBM Rational as Chief Methodologist from 2006 to 2012. He is a prolific author having written or co-authored over 20 books on a wide range of topics.

Mark Lines is the co-founder of DA. Like Scott, he was a RUP fan and worked at IBM during the acquisition of RUP. Mark left IBM in 2007 and cofounded UPMentors with two others before joining Scott at Scott Ambler and Associates which became Disciplined Agile.

Ambler and Lines continue to lead the evolution of DAD with the support of members of the Disciplined Agile Consortium. The Disciplined Agile Consortium is the governing body for certification in Disciplined Agile (DA). We offer training and certification services to those requesting to become certified instructors, coaches and partners. We provide information on curriculum, certification, access to certified members, and resources to support Disciplined Agile activities.
Email Contactcustomercare@pmi.org
Mailing AddressProject Management Institute:
14 Campus Boulevard, Newtown Square, PA 19073 USA
Certificant DirectoryDA Members
DA Coaches
DA Practitioners

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