Cape Town, London and online

Three dates for your diaries:

  1. 27th October (15:00IST / 10:30UKT / 11:30CET), online:
    Webinar: Agendashift Debrief
    – An online tour through the exercises and artifacts produced during the Agendashift day at the Bengaluru Flow Days Workshop last week. If you’re not sure what Agendashift (and in particular its workshops) are about, this is a great way to find out.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Notes:

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.


Agendashift-cover-thumb
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts

Links: 
Home | Partner programme | Resources | Contact | Mike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

My #lkin17 keynote “Managing change in the 21st century: what we know and where we must do better”

[Update: added reference to On not teaching PDCA]

Slides from this morning’s keynote at Lean Kanban India 2017 (scroll down below the slides for related info):

Related resources (most of them free) here:

References and recommended reading (including of course my two books):

Related posts, further detail on some of the content:


Agendashift-cover-thumb
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts

Links: 
Home | Partner programme | Resources | Contact | Mike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter
Workshops (see Events
):
17-18 Sep, Bengaluru, India; 8th Nov, Cape Town, South Africa; 22-23 November, UK

 

A quick post from #lkin17 – Synchronous vs asynchronous: which is better?

A quick mid-conference post from Bengaluru and Lean Kanban India 2017. This morning I gave a repeat what I thought was a one-off talk, the provocatively titled “Scaling without cross-functional teams”, a title set me as a challenge by the organisers of Øredev 2016 (video of that original session below).

Scaling without cross-functional teams from Øredev Conference on Vimeo.

A nice little paradox occurred to me as I was wrapping up today’s talk: systems are often more performant, more robust, and more manageable when they communicate asynchronously, and yet Agile is founded on collaboration and therefore highly dependent on synchronous forms of communication. We want people to be working with each other, talking to each other, face-to-face if possible.

Which is better? Synchronous or asynchronous? Of course neither one is intrinsically better; it’s important to understand the costs and benefits of both in context and choose appropriately. Often a mix of styles is required:

  • People working mostly independently (communicating only as required) or in pairs (communicating all the time); the team comes together daily to synchronise.
  • As work items change status, it is signalled on the board (allowing an asynchronous response). Key events such as planning and deployment bring people together to coordinate and may cause multiple work items to move in tandem.
  • Communications arising from things happening outside the team generally arrive unpredictably. Mostly of the time, the team responds only when ready, if indeed it needs to respond at all. Similarly, the team will from time to time issue announcements or requests without any reliable expectation of how they will be responded to (if at all). Whatever the direction of the communication, some situations will require a synchronised response (eg a meeting) when (say) email is no longer the appropriate medium.
  • Typically, well-engineered business applications can started, stopped, and upgraded at will, independently of other systems. The ability to do so makes them much more manageable and enables a significantly faster rate of change. This isn’t just a technology issue; it also requires people to deal appropriately with those cases in which it seems that multiple systems must be upgraded together because guarantees of backward and forward compatibility will be broken. With good architectures and a degree of proactivity and forethought however, these situations (dependencies) can often be managed away painlessly behind the scenes.

If there’s a general principle here, it’s that synchronisation is a good default at small scale (eg pairing, standup meetings) but that asynchronous communication soon becomes the more efficient default as systems get larger, beyond the size of a single team or application component. Self-organisation is possible at these larger scales; even 20 years ago I was working in environments that could roll out changes affecting multiple systems, multiple sponsors, dozens of people, billions (yes billions) of dollars worth of business, and not a single project manager in sight. It can work!

We have a name for large-scale systems that rely significantly on large-scale synchronisation, featuring combinations of coordinated releases, management approvals, stage gates, complex schedules, frequent large meetings, and large documents that few people want to read: the word is heavyweight. Yes that’s a loaded term (pun 100% intended), but I would only choose to engineer a heavyweight system of any kind (process or application) if I were sure that the alternatives were worse. As far as I can recall, I don’t think that has ever happened. There are usually faster, cheaper, higher quality, and more humane ways of getting things done, even at scale.

See also: A True North for Lean-Agile?


Agendashift-cover-thumb
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts

Links: 
Home | Partner programme | Resources | Contact | Mike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter
Workshops (see Events
):
17-18 Sep, Bengaluru, India; 8th Nov, Cape Town, South Africa; 22-23 November, UK

 

Agendashift is 1 today

Exactly one year ago today, Agendashift had its public launch. We went live with 22 partners signed up, each of them licensed to 1) use our unique online assessment tool, 2) use our workshop material, and 3) claim a spot in the Agendashift partner directory.

In those 12 months we have grown nearly threefold to 60 partners in 18 countries – 21 in the UK, 13 in the US, 4 in Germany, 3 each in France, India, and Sweden, 2 in Belgium, and 1 each in Argentina, Austria, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Turkey. That’s quite a spread!

Since the first public workshop in Leeds, the tools and materials have undergone frequent revision, thanks in no small part to the input of partners and workshop participants. I myself will be taking the workshop outside Europe more often, visiting India, South Africa, and (very likely) the US in the coming months.

Then came the book. Agendashift has been a very different experience to my first book, Kanban from the Inside. Instead of rushing to get it into print, I released a completed part I online on Leanpub in May, expecting it to lurk there quietly while I got on with part II. Of course it didn’t quite work out that way – I’ve since published 3 revisions and I don’t promise that they’ll be the last, such is the ease by which they can now be done. And when it does go to print, Part I may well become Book 1.

I have more unfinished business in the area of machine learning. Back in June I announced the Agendashift unbenchmarking service, which uses so-called unsupervised learning techniques to help identify particular points of interest in survey results. I have since been experimenting with clustering – techniques that won’t just enhance the analytics, they will also create opportunities to connect people. eHarmony for Lean-Agile, if you like!

There have been a couple of surprises. The first is just how comfortably Clean Language and Cynefin have integrated themselves into Agendashift’s distinctively outcome-centric approach to transformation, to the extent that it’s now hard to imagine their absence. They compliment each other very well: our Clean Language-based workshop game ‘15-minute FOTO’ generates narrative fragments in the form of outcomes that are ideally suited to further interaction via the Cynefin four points contextualisation exercise. Furthermore, they both have wider impact, Clean Language in helping us minimise unhelpful assumptions and opening the door to valuable things that we practitioners might easily exclude, and Cynefin for allowing us to acknowledge the limits of some of our tools (which, ironically, makes them stronger).

The other surprise shouldn’t have been a surprise at all, the way that interacting with other people (many of whom I would have met were it not for Agendashift) has been so rewarding. In every respect that Agendashift has grown, it has grown through interaction. And overwhelmingly, those interactions have been a pleasure to participate in or even simply to observe. If you’ve been part of it, I want to thank you.

About Agendashift™

Agendashift is a modern, inclusive, non-prescriptive, and outcome-centric approach to organisational transformation. Notwithstanding its roots in Lean-Agile, Agendashift remains framework-neutral by intent and design. It is delivered via an online assessment/analytics tool, hands-on workshops, and follow-on coaching and technical training as needed. It is used both inside and outside of IT and across diverse industries, both technology-centric and otherwise.

Agendashift is brought to you by Positive Incline Ltd, UK-based specialists in Lean-Agile transformation. Founder Mike Burrows pioneered the values model for the Kanban Method that led to his definitive book, Kanban from the Inside (2014, Blue Hole Press). Part I of his new book Agendashift: clean conversations, coherent collaboration, continuous transformation was published May 2017.

For further information, download our 4-page overview or get in touch.


Agendashift-cover-thumb
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts

Links: 
Home | Partner programme | Resources | Contact | Mike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter
Public workshops (see Events
):
17-18 Sep, Bengaluru, India; 8th Nov, Cape Town, South Africa; 22-23 November, UK

Announcing corporate and associate partnerships

With just a week to go until the first anniversary of our launch, I’m delighted to announce Agendashift’s new corporate partnership plan. This is designed to meet the needs of a range of current and potential Agendashift users:

  • Service providers (eg consultancies, Agile coaching companies, or looser collectives) with multiple Lean-Agile practitioners and a shared corporate identity
  • Single-person (or larger) service operations who encourage their clients to use Agendashift under their own steam, as a help along their road to self-sufficiency
  • End user organisations managing their own Lean-Agile journey internally, with some internal coaching capability

Corporate Agendashift partnerships come with:

  • Two full partner memberships, ie two named individuals, fully onboarded
  • 25% discounts on additional full partners, onboarded by us or your existing partners
  • 50% discounts on associate partners, onboarded by you
  • The option for your corporate logo to appear on our home page, linked to the page of your choice

Once onboarded, full and associate partners have unrestricted access to the online tools (we don’t charge for usage) and are licensed to use our workshop materials. We include a free copy of the Agendashift book, even refunding existing purchases. Full partners have the option to be listed in the Agendashift partner directory and have their own private channel in the Agendashift Slack.

Pricing

Corporate Agendashift partnerships start at the annual cost of two full individual partners, or just £550 per year. Then £205 per year for additional full partners and £137 for associates. Single-person operations become eligible for corporate partnership after recruiting two clients as associate partners, the overall cost being the same.

We offer deep discounts on a country basis (eg 60% off for India) and to charitable, non-profit, educational, and public-sector organisations.

All of the above prices are reduced by £50 for the first year for each partner who has attended one of our Agendashift practitioner’s workshops (whether public or private).

Payment options:

  • 1 year in advance
  • 2 years in advance, 20% discount
  • 3 years in advance, 30% discount

After the first year, a monthly payment option is available at a small premium.

Not ready for corporate partnership?

Three lower-commitment options:

1. The Agendashift™ unbenchmarking service

A different kind of assessment with unique, machine-assisted analysis. This is not the lazy consultant’s way of telling you that you’re not using their favourite practices; neither is it “everyone else is better than you” (they aren’t) or “you’re doing it wrong” (we’re not here to judge). It’s there to help you find a way forward from where you are now, wherever that happens to be.

2. Check out the free trial

For free, create your own Agendashift surveys for use with individuals or small groups. You’ll have access to the 18-prompt “mini edition” assessment template, which is available in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Dutch, Spanish, and Greek.

Some limitations apply:

  • You won’t have access to the full 43-prompt Values-based delivery assessment template or its corresponding ‘pathway’ template
  • Your surveys will be limited to a maximum of 10 participants each
  • Your surveys will all be filed under a single ‘Free trial’ context that you won’t be able to rename

3. Join the authorised partner programme as an individual:

Full access to the the Agendashift tools, facilitation materials, and more:

  • Create your own contexts and surveys with our full range of assessment templates
  • Use them in one-to-one, team, or organisational settings
  • Analyse survey results, with full control over when you share them with participants
  • Facilitate your own Agendashift transformation mapping workshops and coaching sessions using our latest materials
  • Get listed in our partner directory (if you wish – your listing is under your control)

Read the small print: Partner licence agreement.

About Agendashift™

Agendashift is a modern, inclusive, non-prescriptive, and outcome-centric approach to organisational transformation. Notwithstanding its roots in Lean-Agile, Agendashift remains framework-neutral by intent and design. It is delivered via an online assessment/analytics tool, hands-on workshops, and follow-on coaching and technical training as needed. It is used both inside and outside of IT and across diverse industries, both technology-centric and otherwise.

Agendashift is brought to you by Positive Incline Ltd, UK-based specialists in Lean-Agile transformation. Founder Mike Burrows pioneered the values model for the Kanban Method that led to his definitive book, Kanban from the Inside (2014, Blue Hole Press). Part I of his new book Agendashift: clean conversations, coherent collaboration, continuous transformation was published May 2017.

For further information, download our 4-page overview or get in touch.


Agendashift-cover-thumb
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts

Links: 
Home | Partner programme | Resources | Contact | Mike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter
Public workshops (see Events
):
17-18 Sep, Bengaluru, India; 8th Nov, Cape Town, South Africa; 22-23 November, UK

Agendashift roundup, August 2017

In this edition: Launch anniversary; Book revisions; Scrum and Kanban; Public workshops; Speaking; Top posts

Launch anniversary

September 14th will be the first anniversary of the public launch of the Agendashift platform on www.agendashift.com and our partner programme. On the day I’ll publish and mail out a review of this very productive 12 month period.

Book revisions

Keeping to a regular schedule of fortnightly updates I pushed out a number of revisions to the Agendashift book this summer, most notably revision 3 incorporating the 5 principles highlighted in last month’s roundup:

  1. Start with needs
  2. Agree on outcomes
  3. Keep the agenda for change visible
  4. Manage options, testing assumptions
  5. Organise for clarity, speed, and mutual accountability

Existing readers will have been notified of these updates. You can get your copy here:

You can also request a sample chapter.

Scrum and Kanban

It has only been out for a couple of days, but this week’s post Scrum and Kanban revisited (inspired by some thought-provoking headings from Steve Porter and Dan Vacanti) is already the Agendashift blog’s third most visited page of the year. If you haven’t already, go read it! See also the recording of Steve and Dan’s webinar Scrum and Kanban: Make your teams better by busting common myths [scrum.org].

Public workshops

Our September launch anniversary coincides with my fourth trip to India, a favourite destination of mine. I’ll be speaking at Lean Kanban India 2017 and then co-facilitating the Bengaluru Flow Days workshop (incorporating an Agendashift practitioner’s workshop) with Patrick Steyaert on the 17th & 18th. We’d love to see you there.

Coinciding with another big conference (Scrum Gathering South Africa 2017), I’ll be doing a 1-day Agendashift practitioner’s workshop in Cape Town on November 8th. It’s only my second trip to South Africa and my first to Cape Town. Can’t wait!

There will be at least one more practitioner’s workshop in the UK this year, possibly in the form of another Strategy Days in collaboration with Karl Scotland. Other collaborations are also under discussion. The planned workshop on Clean Language and Agendashift with Judy Rees has been postponed to 2018.

If none of these work for you and you think there’s an opportunity for a workshop in your city or at your company, get in touch. A trip to the US in 2018 is highly likely.

Speaking

India, UK, South Africa, and France:

Top posts


Agendashift-cover-thumb
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts

Links: 
Home | Partner programme | Resources | ContactMike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

Scrum and Kanban revisited

Update: See the August 30th webinar by Steve Porter and Dan Vacanti titled Scrum and Kanban: Make your teams better by busting common myths [scrum.org]. It’s great to see such a collaboration happening, and I’m happy to acknowledge that they are the original source of the six numbered headings below (not the content – that’s still mine). Apologies to Steve and Dan – honest mistake, I should have dug a little deeper.


Late last week I was invited by Fasih Sandhu to contribute my reactions to a LinkedIn post on the topic of Scrum and Kanban. My initial reaction was “Oh, here we go, 2012 just called”, but I ended up leaving a comment big enough that I had to edit it down for it to fit. Here then is the director’s cut! I don’t for a moment suppose it will resolve the issues once and for all, but it does at least give an opportunity to explain how someone committed to thoughtful integration approaches it.

Do you think that combining the #Kanban principles and practices with the #Scrum Framework will enhance the collaboration across your agile teams?

Space did not permit me to address this question on LinkedIn, but had it not contained the phrase “enhance the collaboration across your agile teams” I would likely have not have engaged at all.

To understand why this phrase was so crucial, here’s the Agendashift True North [1]:

Everyone able to work consistently at their best:
 • Individuals, teams, between teams, across the organisation
 • Right conversations, right people, best possible moment
 • Needs anticipated, met at just the right time

I’m interested in enhancing collaboration not just across agile teams (as per the question), but between teams (of all kinds) and across the organisation – the right conversations happening between the right people at the best possible moment, wherever in the organisation or outside of it they happen to reside.  Do I believe that a combination of Scrum and Kanban can help to deliver this? Yes I do, and I can point to multiple projects where I’ve witnessed it happen.

In a week or so, I will be attending an event on #Scrum versus #Kanban and I am interested to the reaction of my LinkedIn followers to any of the following statements that will be discussed in that event:

1) Scrum is for product teams; Kanban is for service teams
2) Scrum is for complex work; Kanban is for simple work
3) Our Scrum team has evolved to become a Kanban team
4) We do Scrumban
5) We do Kanban because we can’t plan out for an entire Sprint
6) Scrum is revolutionary; Kanban is evolutionary

Oh dear. “Scrum versus Kanban”. 2012 really is calling. Moving on:

1) Scrum is for product teams; Kanban is for service teams

Quick gut reaction: Ugh. Propaganda (at best based on an error of logic, more bluntly a lie based on a misdirection).

Longer answer, explaining the above but leading to a much less controversial conclusion:

Yes, Scrum is, by design, for product teams. Scrum.org describes it as “a management and control process that cuts through complexity to focus on building products that meet business needs”. No argument there, and in that context it is well understood and well resourced. For some it’s the framework of choice, for others it’s a good starting point or something you have to know.

Is Scrum designed for service teams? Not really. Can Kanban help there? In other words, can service teams benefit from Kanban’s visual management, controls on work in progress, collaborative, feedback-driven process improvement, etc, etc? Many can and many do!

What is also true (and it’s what makes this statement so frustrating) is that visual management, controls on work in progress, collaborative, feedback-driven process improvement, etc, etc are also highly useful to product teams, whether or not they are using Scrum.

So… Kanban is not only for service teams, and Scrum and Kanban are not mutually exclusive. Boring, but true! And can your product teams afford to ignore the service dimension anyway? Probably not, and some would even start there…

2) Scrum is for complex work; Kanban is for simple work

Quick gut reaction: Double ugh. Like question 1, but with a dose of Appeal to authority thrown in.

I could give an extended answer here, but suffice it to say that if you don’t understand that Scrum and Kanban both seek – in their quite different ways, both technically and philosophically – to help their organisations (not just their products) evolve in the presence of internal friction and external competitive pressure, then you don’t understand them, Agile, Lean, or Lean-Agile very well at all.

3) Our Scrum team has evolved to become a Kanban team

Positive, negative, and mixed reactions might be appropriate here – it’s hard to comment on this one without knowing the specifics of the scenario.

Unfortunately a statement like this could mean a whole range of things, ranging from “We stopped doing a bunch of Scrum-related stuff and we don’t really know what we’re doing” to “We’re now using a number of new techniques in a the pursuit of flow, leaving some older practices behind once we established that it was safe and effective to do so”.

Minor technicality: By the design of both, ‘Kanban team’ isn’t as well defined as ‘Scrum team’, but I can see how this arises.

4) We do Scrumban

As documented [2, 3, and elsewhere], my personal experience of Scrumban has been very positive.

To celebrate the Scrum part, the teams I worked with very much appreciated the focus of the sprint in the early days of each project; for organisations unused to achieving anything quickly, the experience can be amazing!

As to the Kanban part, this helped immensely in the pursuit of end-to-end flow (see my answer to question 3 above). This isn’t just better task management, this is integrating a process that starts well before development and finishes long after delivery into production.

I’m glad to be able to say that Scrumban is better resourced now than previously; see for example the book [4] by my friend Ajay Reddy and (from the same stable) some tools [5, 6].

5) We do Kanban because we can’t plan out for an entire Sprint

Quick gut reaction: I find it hard to see this as anything other than a feeble cop out.

Every team is subject to sources of unpredictability – in fact most teams seem to generate a fair amount of the stuff themselves! And yet there’s so much that remains under your control:

  • How often you plan is up to you (clue: choose an appropriate sprint size)
  • Whether or not you plan with zero wiggle room is up to you (clue: don’t)
  • The confidence you attach to your plans is up to you (clue: understand that this is crucial to the planning process, and that your choices here should be informed by both capability and need)

6) Scrum is revolutionary; Kanban is evolutionary

Quick gut reaction: Some truth there, exaggerated for effect, not on its own a useful value judgement.

Scrum is revolutionary if you’ve done nothing like it before. Over time and as there is more of it about, it will become less and less revolutionary, (a victim of its own success perhaps). And don’t forget that it has evolutionary goals (see question 2 above).

Kanban is often described as the easier of the two to introduce, but try introducing it in an organisation allergic to transparency!

Frankly though, discussions about what does or doesn’t constitute evolutionary change quickly get very dry, and in any case I don’t believe that this is a sensible basis for serious decisions about tool integration (and like it or not, every successful Agile adoption is an integration, not just a selection). Nowadays therefore, I prefer to take a more principles-based approach: Start with needs, Agree on outcomes, and so on [7, 8].

References

[1] A True North for Lean-Agile? (See also chapters 1 and 5 of [2])
[2] Agendashift: clean conversations, coherent collaboration, continuous transformation, Mike Burrows (yours truly) (2017, Leanpub)
[3] Kanban from the Inside (2014, Blue Hole Press)
[4] The Scrumban [R]Evolution: Getting the Most Out of Agile, Scrum, and Lean Kanban, Ajay Reddy (2015, Addison-Wesley Professional)
[5] GetScrumban
[6] ScrumDo
[7] Agendashift in 5 principles
[8] (Non-)Prescription, frameworks, and expertise


Agendashift-cover-thumb
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts

Links: 
Home | Partner programme | Resources | ContactMike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter