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Posts Tagged ‘Dean Leffingwell

Extending a True Epiphany

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In Agile Software Development with Scrum, Ken Schwaber describes a true epiphany he experienced as a result of his 1995 meetings with DuPont’s process control experts:

They [DuPont’s process control experts] inspected the system development processes that I brought them. I have rarely provided a group with so much laughter. They were amazed and appalled that my industry, system development, was trying to do its work using a completely inappropriate process control model. They said system development had so much complexity and unpredictability that it had to be managed by a process control model they referred to as “empirical.” They said it was nothing new, and all complex processes that were not completely understood required the empirical model…

… I realized why everyone in my industry had such problems building systems. I realized why the industry was in such trouble and had such poor reputation. We were wasting our time trying to control our work by thinking we had an assembly line when the only proper control was frequent and first-hand inspection, followed by immediate adjustments…

Based on this insight, I have since formulated with others the Scrum process for developing complex products, particularly software systems.

Fast forward to November 2009. During a lovely dinner in Boulder with Dean Leffingwell, we got into the subject of connecting Agile with ITIL. This conversation really registered with me. I actually recalled how years ago Ray Paquet characterized IT as a “continuous manufacturing” process. If you accept Ray’s premise, the chain {DuPont –> Scrum –> IT} is quite intriguing.

Re-reading Software Evolution recently, I was struck by the observation Tom Mens makes in the Introduction:

… due to the fact that the activity of software evolution is a continuous feedback process, the chosen process model itself is likely to be subject to evolution.

I can’t help wondering whether Tom’s observation applies to IT. If so, what are the implications with respect to IT operations and system management?!

Opinions please!

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Scale in London – Part II

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What a grand conclusion for a year of Agile Success Tour events! High that my expectations of yesterday’s event in London were, the actual delivery and interaction with the participants surpassed them. As a matter of fact, I have not done as many customer 1-1’s in any of the previous events. Some of the interactions were with folks who came to the event from the continent. Remarkably, various customers stayed after the event to spontaneously dialog with other participants.

Speaking for Memex, Jim Mccumesty established the tone for the whole event. Agile to Jim is about:

  • Making a real difference
  • Changing patterns of individuals and teams
  • Transforming ‘life styles’

Have no mistakes – Jim had a lot of hard methodical and technical data that he shared with the audience. It was clear however that for Jim the whole things is about doing good things through Agile. His passion was contagious.

Trevor Croft viewed the decision to go Agile by Misys as a matter of fitting software methods to business circumstances. Agile was chosen to due to intrinsic characteristics of their Business Intelligence projects. Specifically, Trevor highlighted the following factors:

  • BI requirements would be constantly dynamic in breadth and depth
  • Needed to be quick to market from vision to delivery
  • Higher revenue –> emphasis on innovation
  • Break out of waterfall nexus of first trapping all requirements
  • Highly modularized factory production line approach for delivery

Trevor’s good points resonated with the trend highlighted by other panelists – the emphasis in Agile is moving toward:

  • Delivering the right products; and,
  • Delivering innovative products

Paul Lazarus of SpilGames equated Agile with growth. At the heart of it, SpilGame’s fast expansion from Holland to Poland and China was characteristic of the role Agile plays in the knowledge economy. Projects flow to the teams and to the talent, not the opposite way around.

David Hicks gave impressive highlights from the Nokia/Symbian/RADTAC work on the Symbian operating system over the past ten years:

  • >50 MLOC!
  • In a little over one year they are reaching the level of >1200 software engineers Agiling furiously in >120 teams
  • All these folks/teams on a single software product with synchronized release trains every 8-12 weeks

It is enlightening to combine David’s data with Dean Leffingwell’s reports on his experience at Nokia. The affinity of their insights is remarkable. Dean, in collaboration with Juha-Markus Aalto from Nokia, published an excellent paper on the subject. Moreover, Dean is actually ‘binding’ together his insightful blog posts to publish a new book entitled Agile Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs and the Enterprise. The book will be published by Addison-Wesley in early 2010.

Much more could and should be written about the London event. Until I have the opportunity to do justice to the subject, I will just mention my overarching conclusion from the event. The business interest in Agile in both the UK and in EMEA is as strong as the one in the US, if not stronger.

John Heintz on the Lean & Kanban 2009 Conference

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Colleague John Heintz has kindly compiled the summary below for the benefit of readers of The Agile Executive. John is well known to Agile Austin folks as well as to out-of-town/state companies to which he consults through his company. You can get a glimpse of his Agile/Lean thinking by reading his blog.

Here is John’s summary of the conference:

The Lean Kanban conference last week in Miami was astounding. David Anderson did a fantastic job, and everyone who contributed had great presentations.

I am humbled and emboldened at the same time. I’ve been involved in Agile since 1999 and Lean since 2004, so I thought this was going to be familiar to me, old hat.

Here’s my confession: I’ve pretty much ignored Kanban, writing it off as just slightly different than what good XP or Scrum teams practice anyway.

Wow, those small differences make a huge impact. I am very glad I decided to go to the conference, some internal hunch finally winning.

Here’s what I thought Kanban was before last week:

  • A Big Visible Board
  • A Prioritized Backlog
  • Close communication, minimizing hand-offs
  • Rules about cards on the wall

No Iteration/Sprint boundaries (I’m thinking more efficient but maybe losing something important…)

That’s all well and good and true enough. Easy to justify writing it all off with “I already know enough to help teams make a big difference”. In fact, Kanban can be boiled down to one single rule:

  • Limit the number of things in work to a fixed number.

But, if that’s all there is too it, why then did I hear things like these:

  • Kanban is easier to introduce to teams than Agile/Scrum/XP
  • “People who never say anything were offering ideas” (I’m pretty sure I heard this three time the first day…)
  • The team felt comfortable dropping estimates/retrospectives/standup questions/…

Wait, you say, this was the first conference and obviously full early adopters! Of course people are going to succeed because they self-selected for success. Good point, but that’s not everything that’s here. For example, Chris Shinkle’s presentation was a case study of rolling out Kanban to many teams who hadn’t asked for Kanban.

So between furiously scratching down notes[1], listening and tweeting[2], I started to think to myself:

  • Why does this make such a difference?
  • Easier to create thinking and reflective teams! Isn’t that cultural change?

I had the pleasure of wrestling this “why” question out with several people, especially Alan Shalloway.

The first answers people gave me were entirely unsatisfying:

  • David Anderson’s reply tweet: “Kanban is easier than Scrum because you don’t change any roles or workflow and you don’t teach new practices.”
  • Alan Shalloway first response: “Kanban cuts out the noise and reduces thrashing.”

Sure, sure, but none of those (good) things seem likely to create: cultural change, engaged teams, or reflective individuals. Those answers are technical, details, and generally not the “emotionally” important things needed for change. Mind you, I’m not really well versed in cultural or emotional change, but being the stubborn person I am, I kept digging.

Here’s where Alan and I got, please add any insights[3]:

  • My hypothesis: Kanban has concrete reflective tools: like “should WIP be 4 or 5?”. Very reflective, but not very abstract or hand-wavy. People can’t often use abstract reflective tools like Retrospectives.
  • Paraphrasing Alan Shalloway: Kanban reduces the fear of committing to a per story estimate – a significant risk in some teams. Less fear can lead to cultural change.
  • (not sure who): Kanban changes the focus away from blaming an individual to examining why stuff is stuck on the board. (I hear Deming…)

—-
On to the actual trip report. Here is an abbreviated transcription of the proceedings of the conference. (Very abbreviated!)

  1. Alan Shalloway started the conference off with no small announcement: the formation of the Lean Software and Systems Consortium. He also mentions that this consortium will be creating a body of knowledge and promoting a distributed certification process. Certifications will be a very interesting topic, my initial reaction was negative. Now I’m just skeptical 😉 I’ve got a hunch that TWI, a hidden influence of Lean, may hold some of the secrets for a successful certification method. We’ll see how this plays out.
  2. Dean Leffingwell gave a keynote on a Lean and Scalable Requirements Model for Agile Enterprises. Very clear from executives down to team activity: maps from Themes to Epics to Features to Stories. This immediately cleared up some questions I and a client were having.  My favorite quote: “If you don’t know hot to get the story out of the iteration – don’t let it in” referring to acceptance tests.
  3. Peter Middleton presented material from “Lean Software Strategies“, co-authored by James Sutton who presented next. Peter is a professor at Queen’s University in Belfast and was the first person to really talk about the people issues. Much of what Peter related was how various practices caused people problems: recruiting and training goals (10 per week) would require recruiters and trainers to push even unqualified people into the company. That led to poor service, high-turnover, and greater costs.
  4. James Sutton has a small personal goal: to save the middle class. His presentation did a good job ranging over various Lean and Systems thinking topics, connecting the dots to Agile. Key quote comparing Lean and Agile: “Getting Prepared” vs “Getting Started.
  5. Sterling Mortensen presented a case study of introducing Lean into the Hewlett Packard printer development division. He said HP was already the “best of breed” and still became much more efficient and effective. My favorite quote: “Stop Starting, Start Finishing“. Sterling also said the “One” metric was continuous Flow. I’m not sure I understand that all the way; I’d been working under the assumption the One metric was customer to customer cycle time (from concept to cash.)
  6. Amit Rathore gave a personal case study of Lean in a start-up, http://runa.com. Amit showed many examples and talked really honestly about his experience. My favorite quote: “not released equals not done”.
  7. Corey Ladas presented on his book Scrumban and his experience at Corbis (with David Anderson) and other projects. I bought a copy of his book out of his backpack and made him sign it.
  8. Jean Tabaka presented a thoughtful presentation on Lean, learning, ignorance, and people. Her narrative helped me further realize how Lean, and Kanban, play into the personal issues of learning and reflecting.
  9. Alina Hsu presented a case study of using Lean to organize the work of procuring a COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) software solution, not development. She had some great things to say about how delays cause major cost overruns. One thing that reduced the delays she mentioned was to change how agreement was reached. The team defined consensus as “I can live with it”, with the rules 1) I won’t go into the hall and try to subvert it, and 2) I won’t lose any sleep. These definitions help teams make decisions faster and reduced waste.
  10. Alan Shalloway presented on a model for understanding Lean and moving it beyond Toyota. He organized all the various concepts down into Lean Science, Lean Management, and Lean Education. Connecting this back to the Lean SSC announcement in the morning he said the consortium working to create value in those three areas.

And that was just the first day. Did anybody mention the conference day started before 8am and lasted till after 6pm? Oh, and everyone was glued into the room.

  1. David Anderson presented a keynote on the principles and evolution of Kanban. So much information! You’ll have to read his presentation and see the video on InfoQ, but just to provide a fragment from each I wrote down:
    • Principled recipe for success (including Balance Demand Against Throughput)
    • Metrics (like WIP is a leading indicator)
    • Agile Decision Filter questions
    • Lean Decision Filter questions
    • Kanban decouples input cadence, cycle time, release cadence
  2. Karl Scotland continued the detailed treatment of Kanban. Karl spoke about the Lean concept of Flow as expressed with Kanban – and even rename typical process steps to avoid any baggage with waterfall terminology. If you want to know more about how work actually gets done in a Kanban system, watch his presentation. His interesting names for for process steps are: Incubate, Illustrate, Instantiate, Demonstrate, Liquidate.
  3. Rob Hathaway presented a case study of his work building a game portal for a publishing business. He believed very strongly that teaching from principles (Value, Prioritization, WIP limits, Quality) led to success.
  4. Alisson Vale presented a tool… that enchanted everyone in the room. David Anderson himself said that Vale “has the highest maturity software team on the planet”. Now, tool support often isn’t the answer, and many teams get real value with a physical board – a tool isn’t a Silver Bullet. If a tool makes sense for you – this tool absolutely blew us away. I asked Alisson about buying or helping with the tool and he said they were considering open sourcing it! I offered my coding skills in extending it for my own clients to help reach that goal.
  5. Linda Cook presented a case study of using Kanban at the Motley Fool. Her presentation does a good job of showing how little is necessary to get a lot of value out of Kanban.
  6. Eric Landes gave a great case study about using Kanban in an IT development shop. His team went from struggling to turn requests around (41 days) to a rapid 9 day turn around. Again, his discussion of the team dynamics and reflection were interesting to how a tiny bit of Kanban can have a huge impact.
  7. Eric Willeke’s presentation was visually beautiful, but you’ll have to watch the InfoQ video to get the value out of it. It contained only two words in a quote bubble (from memory “Momma! Pirates!”) and was the backdrop for the story that he told. His story highlighted to me, again, that Agile doesn’t always stick but Kanban seems to.
  8. Chris Shinkle presented a multi-case study on rolling Kanban into a large software consultancy. Very interestingly, and contrary to much discussion before, Chris presented a practices first, principles later message. This again resonated strongly to me that Kanban practices are somehow special in encouraging people to reflect and reach for the principles.
  9. David Laribee presented an opinionated view on leadership and change using Lean. This quote stuck with me: “people support a world they help create”. His style of leading is to drive from “Values -> Practices -> Tools” and his presentation wove a story of Agile/Lean process change. Also, I really enjoyed his injecting reference to hardcore technologies: REST, Git and OSGi were fantastic to see in a Lean/Kanban presentation.

That was day two. I’d said we were all glued to the room before, now as I type this I realize our brains were coming a bit unglued at this point. Every presentation was top-notch, barely time for questions, breaks were cut short, and we came back for more as fast as we could. Oh, and apparently we collectively drank 2.5 times as much coffee as the hotel usually allocates for a group our size.

I’m not going to summarize the Open Space. Too many topics and changes in direction. You just had to be there 🙂

Cheers,
John Heintz

[1] I used the first 25 pages of a brand new notebook… for a 2.5 day conference… Every session had an overwhelming amount of information, and I’m glad InfoQ recorded video.
[2] My twitter account is http://twitter.com/jheintz, and you can follow everyone’s conference coverage at http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23lk2009.
[3] I’m going to keep following up on this topic in my personal blog: http://johnheintz.blogspot.com

Dean Leffingwell on the Lean & Kanban 2009 Conference

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As the recent podcast with Dean was held prior to the Lean & Kanban 2009 conference in Miami, I enquired through email about his major takeaways from the conference. Here is Dean’s answer:

I obviously think Lean Software will be big. It will be to the enterprise what Scrum is to teams.

I believe that Kanban (a subset of lean, being used as an agile team method now), will be more readily adopted in 3-5 years than Scrum.

Reasons:

  • Easier to adopt at the team level.
  • Far less overhead for planning and estimating, and fewer ceremonies (approaching zero in the edge case and with appropriate context).
  • Based on both solid science and people aspects: theory of constraints, continuous flow and pull. Kaizen mind.
  • Much easier to sell to PMO and VP level folks where agile=Dilbert=bad, and Lean=Toyota=good. Plus you can lean a PMO with value stream analysis and other tools. What do you do in a PMO with Scrum?
  • Support from industry stalwarts such as Lockheed Martin, who are applying proven lean manufacturing practices to software development for projects like the Joint Strike Fighter. i.e industries on the other side of the agile chasm are adopting Lean now and will provide creature comfort for enterprises considering the leap.
  • Plus agile already has a bad rap (perhaps undeserved) in many of those places; lean does not.
  • Lean and Lean SSC’s focus on the role of management in continuous improvement and problem solving, as opposed to agile, where management is either a “chicken” (you can attend our meetings, but you have no role in our process…)  or an “impediment” (If you attend an agile conference,  manager’s, CEOs etc are routinely denigrated; that does not help our industry).
  • Lean provides richer tools for improvement for the manager and practitioners – Kaizen meetings, five whys, root cause analysis, theory of constraints, flow and pull science and metrics,  cumulative flow diagrams, etc. rather than just  the single “retrospective.”
  • Question: does agile scale? In my opinion, yes, but it is arguable in the industry. Question: Does Lean scale – Yes, not remotely arguable. Lean started at scale.
  • Lean optimizes the whole enterprise and gives you tools to reason about the enterprise, from order to shipment, rather than just the team optimization. 
  • Potential for leadership from the Lean SSC as an open, science and knowledge-based consortium with an academic and industry approved certification process for managers and practitioners.
     
    I could go on and on, this is just the short list.

In addition to Dean’s insightful points, a guest post on the conference will soon be published in this blog by colleague John Heintz. If you look for stroke-by-stroke coverage of the conference, Mike Cottmeyer‘s posts on the subject in Leading Agile are very informative.

Written by israelgat

May 9, 2009 at 4:34 pm