Interview: “How to Start a Lean Agile Transformation?”

Last week I spent a very enjoyable 45 minutes being interviewed by Dima Moroz at Kanbanize for the fifth episode of the LAMP podcast. See it here:

Enjoy!


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8th Nov, Cape Town, South Africa22-23 November, UK

Agendashift revision 4

As promised on Friday, revision 4 of the Agendashift book is now out. The same book, but with some polish:

  • An intro that’s much more explicit about what it’s all about, a much clearer distinction between delivery and transformation frameworks, and identifying up front Agendashift’s main elements (its activity flow, its Lean-Agile True North, the assessments, and the change leadership principles)
  • The poster, seen in full in the intro and excerpted at the top of each chapter
  • Summaries of key points at the end of each chapter
  • In chapter 1, Discovery, references to Remember the Future (www.innovationgames.com) and The Future, Backwards cognitive-edge.com)
  • In chapter 2, Exploration, calling out more clearly the flows into later chapters
  • In chapter 3, Mapping, more about the orthogonality (without using that word) of the ‘spine’ or  ‘narrative arc’ of the map and priorities (see last week’s quick LinkedIn update / tweet for a taste)
  • In chapter 4, Elaboration, a reference to Solutions Focus

Moreover, all mentions of a part II have been removed – it stands alone as a 5-chapter book, running to about 150 pages in the PDF version (not a minibook, but still digestible).

This revision owes much to the comments of Steven Mackenzie, Allan Kelly, and Dieter Strasser and I’m very grateful to the three of them. I don’t mind admitting that I’m very pleased with it and I really don’t anticipate making significant further changes.

If you have bought the e-book already, you will receive notification from Leanpub that there is new version to download. If you don’t yet own a copy, get yours here:

There are PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats available. For iOS devices (iPad and iPhone) I would recommend EPUB for viewing in iBooks in preference to MOBI for Kindle –for reasons still not fully understood the formatting is noticeably better in the former.

Agendashift-cover-2017-10-09


Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
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8th Nov, Cape Town, South Africa22-23 November, UK

Some mid-month / pre-weekend announcements

Quite a lot happening that won’t wait for the usual end-of-month roundup:

I’m greatly looking forward to all three: my collaboration with Karl is something I value very highly, the Cape Town event will be the first practitioner workshop south of the equator, and India was a blast!

While we’re here, look out for a 4th revision of the Agendashift book appearing on Monday. If you have it already or you buy it today or over the weekend you’ll be notified via Leanpub (updates are free) and there’ll be a blog post too. You can sample the latest intro and first chapter now by request (PDF only – not via Leanpub for other formats until the complete book is updated).

Have a great weekend!


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Lean and Agile origin stories

From the comments on last week’s Agile and Lean are just toolkits, right?:

Regarding “respect for how these different schools came into being” do you have any thoughts on how to do this? Besides being there at the creation or talking 1-1 with the creators what else is there? There is very little documentation… 🙂
Michael de la Maza (@hearthealthyscr) 

I’m going to argue that in the case of both Lean and Agile, the documentation and the origin story are almost one and the same thing!

Let’s start with Lean and the book The Machine that Changed the World by Womack, Jones, and Roos (1991). It’s a western (MIT) perspective on the Toyota Production System (TPS), and its publication is what brought the term ‘Lean production’ into currency. Its success spawned other books, notably Lean Thinking by Womack and Jones (1996).

An refreshingly honest 21st century perspective on Lean as provided by (say) Mike Rother’s 2009 book Toyota Kata suggests that Lean’s early incarnation was overly tool-focussed and paid insufficient attention to the management systems inside Toyota that brought those tools about. Dig a bit and you find that Taichi Ohno provides in 1988 an excellent first-hand account of the thinking that gave rise to TPS long before Lean was ever a thing.

For Agile, the origin story is very much a document, the Agile Manifesto. A bunch of guys gather at a ski resort in 2001 and produce a values statement that catalysed a movement.  It’s not perfect, but this matters a lot less than its authenticity and it has stood the test of time very well.

The manifesto’s “items on the right” identifies a number of things regarded by some as obstacles and by others as “doing it properly”. This ironic tension isn’t just clever, it helps to describe the conditions prevailing at the time. The historians will be grateful 🙂

While we’re here (and by way of a warning to potential commenters): I have nothing but contempt for ignorant pieces of ‘advice’ such as these:

  • All you need to know about Lean is that Agile (or Agile method X) was inspired by it
  • Lean inspired Agile so ignore Agile and go to the source

By all means specialise, dig deep. If you’re sufficiently motivated, try to take something as far as it is possible to go – that’s one important way in which the community as a whole gets to learn. But don’t do them (or yourself) a disservice by minimising the contributions of others. Is it really that hard to celebrate them both – separately and together?

Commercial break: If this integrative message appeals, you’ll likely enjoy the new Agendashift book, which integrates Lean and Agile thinking along with other ingredients in a 21st century, outcome-centric approach to change and transformation. My first book Kanban from the Inside (2014) amply demonstrates it too. Don’t miss our November workshops in Cape Town and London. Check out our partner programme. And if this is all new to you, start here.

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Because every framework needs a poster…

I’ve posted a few teasers in various places over the past few weeks, but now I have a poster I’m pretty happy with and the opportunity to refresh some key pages on the main site.

poster-main-2017-10-05
Because every framework needs a poster…

Check out the new pages! Visit:

As always, feedback very welcome. I’m grateful to partners Martien van SteenbergenDieter Strasser, and Steven Mackenzie for theirs.

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Agile and Lean are just toolkits, right?

Agile, Lean, Kanban, Scrum, SAFe, … plenty of tools to choose from, so why does ‘toolkit’ set my teeth on edge? Perhaps it puts me in mind of the journeyman worker who knows his tools but never really excels at anything.

To be more than a mere journeyman and to progress towards mastery, you need to know more than just the distinguishing features of each tool or body of knowledge. If I were looking for expert advice or inspiration I’d want to see:

  1. Some respect for how these different schools came into being, the conditions prevailing at the time, the problems being solved
  2. An understanding of the values and principles that explain their design choices and implementation strategies (and I don’t mean just being able to parrot them; values in isolation of practice are meaningless)
  3. An ability to describe their ‘lessons’ – key takeaways that you can apply non-prescriptively, perhaps using alternative tools

Some examples of these lessons:

  1. From Agile: the power of working collaboratively in carefully controlled chunks goes way beyond what you’d learn from studying psychology or queuing theory separately. It’s not magic (it’s easy enough to explain technically and it’s not hard to bring about) and there’s a positive reinforcement feedback loop there, one in which success breeds greater success.
  2. From Lean Startup and Kanban (bedfellows almost from their respective beginnings): make the processes by which you learn about your customers, your product, and yourselves as visible as you can make them. You make rapid progress by continually testing your assumptions about all three.
  3. From Scrum: don’t underestimate the value of rhythm. It’s not just the ritual and the predictability, it’s also the opportunities to achieve something meaningful in between (see lessons 1 and 2)

I’d love to see more of these. Can you describe a ‘lesson’ non-prescriptively?

Related:


Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
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Workshops (see Events
):
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Agendashift roundup, September 2017

In this edition: Launch anniversary; India trip; Public workshops; Speaking; Top posts

Launch anniversary

As mentioned in last month’s roundup, September 14th was the first anniversary of our public launch. Here’s the post made on the day:

Since the 14th we’ve added Switzerland to the list of countries represented by our partners, and additional partners in the UK and Austria. In the next few days we’ll add Ukraine and Australia too. That’s every continent now except Antarctica!

India trip

This month I made by fourth trip to India, and definitely my most enjoyable and productive trip of all. While there I published the slides for my keynote at Lean Kanban India 2017:

Also a blog post about communication and scaling:

With Patrick Steyaert we ran a 2-day workshop covering both Flowlab and Agendashift. Among the participants were 4 Agendashift partners (Irshad NizamiSanjay KumarAlper Tonga and of course Patrick). The Flowlab day was stimulating, and the Agendashift day gets better with every iteration.

In October our hosts Innovation Roots are kindly hosting a webinar in which I’ll walk through the Agendashift workshop via the outputs we produced. Sign up here:

Public workshops

  • 8th November, Cape Town, South Africa: Agendashift practitioner’s workshop
    – 
    Quite possibly the first full Agendashift workshop to take place in the Southern Hemisphere, and it’s happening before the regional Scrum Gathering on the 9th and 10th, at which I’m a keynote speaker.
  • 22nd & 23rd November, London: Lean-Agile Strategy Days London (II)
    – 
    Not a repeat because we’ve improved it! This is Karl Scotland and I joining forces again for two days of Agendashift and Lean Strategy Deployment goodness.

I’ve moved the Cape Town event from the Eventbrite ticketing platform to Goeventz, which allows it to be priced in ZAR (previously USD).

If you’re an Agendashift partner or plan to become one, discounts apply. We’re also happy to discount generously for employees in the government, education, and non-profit/charitable sectors.

Don’t see an event in your part of the world (here, or in our Events calendar)? Then help us organise one! Not only are we happy to cooperate on a commercial basis, we’re tweaking the corporate partner model to make sure that your efforts can be properly recognised.

Speaking

UK, South Africa, and France:

Top posts


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