Lean Thinking

08 October 2013

Vision

Written by Published in Agile

Normally, the phrase 'project vision" or "project goal" elicits a collective groan from any team in which it is used. This is because project vision statements are generally... well... crap. Whoever puts them together inevitably feels it necessary to slip into management speak and string a bunch of fairly meaningless weasel words together – "we will proactively leverage our synergies to achieve outcomes consistent with our values...". Lots of words but no actual meaning. No wonder people greet them with a groan.

But at the same time, the team needs to have a cohesive picture of what it is they are working towards. They need to know what the goal is. More than that, the team will do much better at reaching the goal if they really believe that the goal is worthwhile. They need to see the goal as a thing to be desired, a thing to be strived for. What do we call such a goal? Well.. that would be the project vision, wouldn't it. This leads us to a dilemma. The team needs a vision to strive towards, but vision statements are so universally awful.

16 August 2013

Self Organisation

Written by Published in Agile

In the Agile world, we (and I am certainly no exception) talk a lot about Self Organisation, but what does that mean? What is this thing called Self Organisation?

Written by Published in Agile

Some agile teams do well. Many don't. In my experience, there is one consistent thing that separates the teams that succeed from those that fail and that is sound engineering practices. Foremost among those sound practices is Test First (or Test Driven) design.

Written by Published in Agile

The key to Agile and Lean methodologies is “the rapid delivery of customer value”. Anything that does not add value is considered waste. In Agile, value is often defined as “working code” but this is too narrow a definition. It assumes that the only stakeholders that matter are the end users of the software and that the only product the team needs to produce is the software.

Written by Published in Agile

I recently coached a team that had a problem. Actually, they thought they had a lot of problems. Their builds were a mess. Their environment was unstable. Their tests were broken. They were finding it very difficult to get any work done. Their once excellent planning was starting to drift away from reality. When we started to look into these problems though, it became clear that all these problems had one single cause – their team lead.

Written by Published in Agile

Let’s look again at our team from the last post and take a closer look at the Team Lead. It’s easy to see how Fred got into the situation he was in. The job of Team Lead is very unclear in an Agile world. One of the agile principles is that all team members are equal so what does a team lead do? I usually recommend that teams don’t have a team lead. That forces them to look after themselves rather than relying on a team lead to do it for them.  Most large organisations though insist on having a Team Lead for every team. That’s OK. We can live with it. We just need to work out what an agile team lead does.

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