How to Use?

Using the ADES Framework is based on self evaluation and continuous improvement. The spiderweb in the middle of the ADES picture is the central element here. It has six axis that correspond to the six sectors of ADES. On each axis you find four intersections with the ‚webs‘ – these represent the points of your current ‘sector rating‘. 

The sector rating is based on self-assessment and helps you determine where your main areas of improvement are. To get a rating you look at the ‚aspects‘ of a sector (techniques, methods, patterns or practices associated with it) and find a fitting value based on the following rationale:

  • 0 – We are largely agnostic to what is proposed in this sector. Even the ‚late majority‘ aspects are not used broadly.
  • 1 – We use some aspects of the sector, but more in a randomly adopted fashion.
  • 2 – We use the ‚late majority‘ techniques and have a consistent if slow way of improving things in this sector.
  • 3 – We are well situated, use almost everything that’s considered mainstream (‚early‘ and ‘late majority’) and are interested in advanced aspects.
  • 4 – We are pioneers in this sector, using many established aspects as well as trends and ‘early adopter’ aspects.

To get a better understanding of how this self-assessment works, you can have a look at the following example – a table, summarizing some important aspects of learning sector F – Feedback and Transparency.

Example AspectsAdoption Lifecycle
Information Radiators (process and solution oriented)Late Majority
Continuous Delivery practices incl. Deployment PipelinesLate Majority
Quality related tests (Performance-, Load- and Stress-Tests)Late Majority
Community of Practice (guilds, brownbag sessions, meetups, …)Early Majority
Diversity and open communication cultureEarly Majority
Fitness Functions (Chaos Engineering, Security-Tests, …)Early Adopters

A good implementation of the ‚late majority‘ aspects will bring you to a sector rating of ‘2‘ at best, if you already figured out much of the ‚early majority‘ stuff you probably self-assess a ‘3‘ – everything beyond that is reserved for the cool kids.

Getting Better

In order to successfully use the ADES framework you will have to establish a culture where experimentation and learning is valued. Our business world changes quickly and with it the practices and tools that help us assessing, evaluating and improving our way of working.

This culture is characterized by the willingness to accept wrong decisions as long as they are used as a source of learning. Mistakes and failures aren’t avoided, they are consciously taken into account and valued against their cost, risk and learning effect. Small experiments that create early learning can avoid huge mistakes late in any process.

Work on the ADES learning sectors is interconnected as they depend on each other. Improvement usually affects more than one sector and can’t be isolated. For example sector R – Responsibility has strong relationships to sectors V – Verticality (giving people their own, independent part of a system) or A – Anti-Viscosity (propagating freedom and recommendations). An optimization of team responsibility without the freedom that anti-viscosity brings is hard to do…

It is therefore important to apply systems thinking and try to predict effects outside a simple cause-effect relationship. Systemic effects can create cycles of virtue that we want to use to improve our system globally. But they can also create vicious cycles of deterioration if you are not careful. Constant assessment and evaluation is key to overall improvement.

Getting Worse

It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.

Lewis Carroll – ‘Through the Looking-Glass’

As described in the ‘Getting Better’ section, improvement needs constant work. The ADES framework assumes that stagnation means deterioration. Therefore it isn’t enough to self-assess your sector ratings, create experiments and improve the situation once. While it is not as bad as the Red Queen in the above quote states: she is generally right. If you stop, your practices and tools will become stale and your competition will catch up and overtake.

We recommend to make the ADES self-assessments a regular practice every 3-6 months in order to decide which learning sectors to address next. These areas of improvement should be evaluated against their value, risk and cost. These factors define the priority with which improvements will be implemented.