Go for Understandable not Simple

December 2, 2017 — Posted by Al Shalloway

This page was moved to here as part of our FLEX (FLow for Enterprise Transformation) site.

A lot of people in the Agile community talk about ‘simplest’ as it’s a good thing.  I like simple better than complicated if all other things are equal, but all too often simple is simplistic, not a desirable thing.  What makes for a ‘simpler’ framework or method?  Some people suggest it’s the size of the guide or number of things you must do. I would suggest it’s what’s more understandable to people.

FLEX (FLow for Enterprise Transformation) is designed with understandability in mind. At its core is:

  1. How do people collaborate with each other
  2. What do they agree to as to what they are to achieve

How to Collaborate – the Guardrail System.

The basic agreements are to:

  1. Work on items that will have us realize the greatest amount of Business value across the enterprise
  2. Collaborate with each other in order to maximize the realization of Business value across the enterprise
  3. Ensure that all work will be made visible
  4. Take the necessary steps to sustain or increase predictability
  5. Keep the work throughout the value stream within our capacity
  6. Encourage everyone to strive for continuous improvement

Each of these will lead to other steps – but can function as a start.

Agreeing to work on greatest amount of business value will lead to the use of Minimum Business Increments and even further (what are the items we want to invest in, what are our strategic initiatives for that, how do we get MBIs from them).

Agreeing to collaborate leads to consistent cadences and visions in order to implement business value.  It also requires the next agreement to make all work visible.

We of course want to be able to improve our predictability which is partially achieved by keeping work within our capacity.

And continuous improvement has us not only do ‘inspect and adapt’ but incorporate double-loop learning into the mix.

What to Work on

The desired focus is on quick realization of business/customer value predictably, sustainably, and with high quality.  If starting with people who can work on this directly, this is likely the place to start.   Teach people to use Minimum Business Increments (MBIs).  Use collaboration to define features (first phase of Acceptance Test Driven Development). 

If starting with technology, then probably best to start with lowering the value stream impedance from as early in the value stream as you can.  Still teach the concept of MBIs as technology can work with that.  And, of course, use ATDD as well. 

If You Want to Learn More

These are two pieces of the FLEX system.  You can learn a lot more by going there.  

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With over 40 years of experience, Alan is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, SAFe, Scrum and agile design.


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