Lean Software and Systems Consortium 11 Day 0

May 2, 2011 — Posted by Al Shalloway

This wasn't really the start of the Lean SSC 11 conference, but it was for me and my other board members. Quite a lot got done. An all day board meeting working with the likes of Don Reinertsen, David Anderson, Alan Chedalawada, Karl Scotland, Jim Sutton, Richard Turner, Janice Linden-Reed and Kelly Wilson. Janice and Kelly aren't board members but have been instrumental in putting on the conference. They are the unsung heroes here. If you see them, tell them thanks!

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I don't do humble often or well. But amongst this crowd, I feel like a distant last. Each person brings so much experience and intelligence, passion and commitment to the job. Wow! I'm just awed and honored to be part of the group. It's interesting to see how each person expresses their passion to the vision we see.

I'm not going to tell you all (any?) of the things we decided – they'll be announced soon enough during the conference. But I will say we're doing the wise thing of reassessing how we're pursuing our vision – at the same time we're refining it. There are a few key things to reflect on. Two years ago, the Lean SSC didn't really exist. Officially, the Lean SSC was formed May 4, 2009. Before that, we had just had a commitment to form something (not even named at the time) and had arranged for the conference that took place 2 days later – still the most amazing conference experience of my life. While our vision hasn't changed, a lot has changed in the last two years. These changes include – a large growth in the community pursuing Lean/Kanban methods, an almost quadrupling in the size of the LLSC conference, expansion to 3 European conferences this year, a much deeper understanding of Lean/Kanban, a growing awareness that the principles of Lean are an absolute necessity for success in software development, plus many other things.

Two years ago Kanban was considered by many to be something used only by maintenance organizations. Now it's recognized as a solid change-management system. David and I have two articles on Kanban we'll be handing out at the conference – David's is called Stop Negotiating, Start Collaborating and mine is Demystifying Kanban. In mine I lay out how Kanban is really a change-management system, a team method and a learning method – not at all what I thought 2 years ago! What's exiting is that the more I use Kanban, the more power I see in it. This contrasts with my experience of Scrum. While my first 3-5 years with Scrum were awesome, once I got past small implementations (30-70 people) I kept running into limitations that were inherent in a bottom up approach – one that did not afford a vision to unite everyone involved. Not that I could not make intuitive leaps that worked, but I couldn't find an underlying model that would piece things together. It was like every step forward was a relearned, intuitive leap forward.

With Lean/Kanban over the last few years, it seems like every leap forward raises the bar of understanding. I talk to other systems thinkers and we build off of each others' models. Each step is into a deeper and deeper understanding of how things actually work. Much of this is technical in nature, but more of it is in how to interact with people and how to help them transition to effective methods. I am continuously impressed with the deep understanding of the human condition and psyche that one must need to truly make organizational transformation. I remember the context of my early successes with Scrum 10 years ago. Where then I was working with mostly 5-30 people at a time, now it's more like 300-800 and some of my folks at Net Objectives are working with organizations numbering in the thousands. Amazing. The acceleration of learning that is taking place is exciting, humbling, exhilarating and awesome all at once!

I look forward to tomorrow technical advisory board and to get the input from a few dozen other enthusiasts. I'll give a report on that tomorrow – but what I'm really looking for is for the conference to begin in earnest Wednesday.

Alan Shalloway
CEO, Net Objectives

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.


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