Category Archives: Lean
After talking with different people, I have been reflecting about the situation where many companies seems to adopt agile techniques to be able to deliver faster and with higher quality (more gas for the same buck), but it seems like they are not driving more agility into the organization or into the products. They are not able to rapidly respond to the many emerging opportunities. It seems like the balance is more on delivering the expected and planned requirements rather than regular inspection of each completed Increment, collaboration with customers and be able to rapidly make changes and optimize business value.
Program Managers or Product Owners should do more than just deliver the approved project or approved requirements. Maximizing the business value and optimizing TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), are areas that to often are not done in most organizations. Recently I have talked with different business people who think a best practice is to have a Product Owner for a team doing support and hotfixes and another Product Owner for another team working on the new release for the same product (often called a new project). They had not considered the whole value stream of activities and how they were combined. Having a Product Owner responsible for the product, TCO and full value stream, seems like an alien thought in many larger organizations.
We need to change the sub optimizing thinking to enable Agility in organizations and move beyond the predictability mindset.
Frankly speaking, it did not expect Microsoft and TFS releases adopting agility and starting a journey on continuous delivery. I heard about MSFT people that talked about the radical change from previously doing development in 1 year followed by stabilization in 1 year to now be able to release every 3rd week to TFS as a Service on TFSpreview.com. I look forward to follow how this will evolve in the future including the pricing model and integration with Azure.
Imagine the new opportunities for many Enterprise system, if they move into a regular deployment of functional based releases to a hosted solution, and also be able to deliver their product as a service to customers. This could help them respond rapidly to customer feedback and opportunities and deliver much higher business value.
The Lean Startup movement is moving around the world and I have done a number of presentations at my work at Scanjour to establish a common understanding of the concepts. We have also started to look into how we can utilize Lean Startup thinking in our product development to create more data driven validate learning. It will be really great, and I expect we will get very good results from that approach.
The presentation I did at Scanjour can be seen below (it is continiously being improved based on feedback).
At ScrumForum.dk events in Marts 2012 I did a presentation about Scrum and Agile in a Distributed setup. Find the Prezi presentation below.
It has been one of my passions for years to optimize my personal incoming work and use minimum amount of time to progress each item. I have been working with Personal Kanban boards in both electronic and physical versions and also done some teaching and talks about this (see fx here). The list of inspiration is long and covers Pomodoro technique, GTD, the work from “Stephen R. Covey”, many Lean principles/practices etc. I have been using many different advanced setups in MS Outlook, (tagging, tasks, flags, add-ons), MindManager, post-it notes apps and many different GTD apps. But my current setup is very simple.
One of the main input streams has always been all the mails (especially in my current job) and I have been experimenting with many different practices to optimize the flow. It is a long journey, and this post will only briefly explain the current stage today, and I expect it will continuously be improved in the future.
Today is my first day back on work after two weeks of vacation and my inbox was not exploded. I must admit that I also left for vacation with an empty inbox but also my current strategy has reduced my mail progressing time dramatically. The above picture shows how I currently organize my inbox and the Inbox will show zero items after next time I progress new items.
My current strategy
- Only using Outlook (until recently I combined Outlook with MindManager to manage larger tasks, but now I only use Outlook)
- Focus on zero items in my inbox
- Pull items when I have time and have NO notifications at all
Work with 3 Queues, an archive and a list for mail notifications
- Indbakke (Inbox): All new items
- 1-Action: Requires some more time to answer or work on
- 2-Hold: Currently waiting other people to answer or I need to follow-up later
- 3-Archive: All archived mails and tasks
- Notifications: Auto mail from different sites that I have subscribed to
It follows the below workflow
After starting using this strategy I use most of my time in the “1-Action” queue working on larger items and I am not distracted by a lot of other mails in the inbox.
Some additional hints
- Some of the folders in MS Outlook (what I consider as Queues) are showing number of items in the folder (green number) and not number of unread items (blue number)
- The 3 queues (1-Action, 2-Hold, 3-Archive) is also synchronizes on my mobile phone, so I can progress items when only having my mobile phone
- I think my next step will be to add rules so I can post tasks directly to the “1-action” queue from any mail client
Working with a distributed setup can be a challenge and many problems are harder to solve. Since 2004 I have been working in different companies with focus on establishing a global effective delivery structure or improving existing structures. I also have had the great opportunity to work with many different companies either helping them getting started with distributed development or solving some of their many problems. It has been with larger teams (up to 100 people) and smaller and high effective teams with just 2-3 people. I have been working with interesting cases and got many stories and learning with focus on countries like India, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Russia and Pakistan.
It has been a continuously changing journey with many experiments and trying an amazing number of different things to improve the systems and understand problems later to be solved. After some years I have started to see the same challenges across different customers, different offshore locations and different type of work. I started to analyze and reflect on all the data end experiences, and tried to formulate some patterns on what need to be in place for an effective global delivery system to work better. The first result was 8 related patterns and a number of recommendations and some years ago it was extended with a pattern about “Management System”. One could argue that it could (should?) be part of the “Global Structure”, but my experience has been that seeing the whole Global Structure as one system is not that easy to follow for many people. Especially not from a traditional management point of view.
The 9 patterns (also in the picture), are:
- Global Structure and Processes
- Global Rhythm
- Global Requirement Management
- Global Communication Protocols
- Global Technical Infrastructure
- Global Development Practices
- Global Domain Knowledge
- Cross Cultural Understanding
- Management System
For the last 10-15 years I have been a strong advocate of Lean and Agile thinking and used many agile practices in different companies (also before someone coined them with a specific name J) and I have been inspired by Lean Principles and Systems Thinking. I have worked quite a lot with processes from CMMI, RUP, APLN, ITIL and my experience is that even though they are based on some kind of best practices, very often they are too detailed and used by people as the “one truth”. In companies having very prescriptive processes I see that often people see it as the one standard cut in stone they need to follow without thinking, or they don’t follow it at all.
Since 2006, Scrum practices and the thinking behind those have been a huge part of my daily work. The patterns have been created and continuously improved base on my own experience and a blend of Scrum, Agile Principles and Practices and Lean Thinking.
I will start to write posts about each pattern, so stay tuned.