What is Essence?

A simple, 1-page introduction to Essence

There are many descriptions of Essence, including articles, books, white papers and the Essence Pocket Guide. As befits a powerful, wide reaching approach, they are all quite comprehensive – this is the two minute version that gives you a brief overview with enough information to understand what Essence is about before getting into the detail in one of the more comprehensive works.

At its simplest, Essence is an method-agnostic description of software development. It is an international OMG standard developed, reviewed, improved and tested by experts from all over the world. Although developed as a software standard it is far more universal and can be applied to almost any type of solution development.

It has distilled the important elements of software engineering into a universal common ground. That means that any software endeavor can be described in Essence terms, no matter how it is being developed. It also means that any development method or practice can itself be described in Essence terms, usig the Essence Language - a simple, intuitive, visual language.

The Common Ground

This universal common ground consists of 7 things that all software endeavors need to take account of. Each can be in a number of states from initial conception to retirement. Those seven things are: • Opportunity • Stakeholders • Requirements • Software System • Work • Team • Way of Working

To successfully create solutions, all these elements must be addressed. This is important because once we have defined this common ground, we can use it to monitor, understand and improve our endeavors, independent of the practices and methods used by the teams. This allows teams to have autonomy over how they work and for organizations to have consistency, even where some teams are practicing waterfall and others practicing Scrum, SAFe or something else.

Consistency for Organizations

We can use Essence to describe any practice or method (not only those related to software) and because they are all connected to the same common ground, we can mix and match them to optimize how we work. By standardizing on Essence, organizations don’t need every team to adopt a common method or approach. All they need to do is relate how they work to Essence and it doesn’t matter that they use different approaches on top of it.

Choice and Autonomy for Teams

For individual teams, Essence allows them to find the best practices for their particular needs without having to understand or pick a comprehensive method. Because practices are built on top of Essence, it is easy to see where there are gaps and for the team to ensure they are addressing all the 7 critical areas.

There are other aspects to Essence and many more ways in which it can improve delivery. But its core value is that it describes a universal common ground that is true for all types of software development.

With even this small insight into Essence, it should be clear how ground breaking it is, and how much value it can bring to organizations and teams who want to optimise and improve their approach to delivering value.

For more information, browse the Essence in Practice website or get in touch with us.


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