Lean-Agile Basics

The Net Objectives Advanced Coaching Primer

What This Is

This is the first page in a learning path on taking a good coach to a higher level.  This learning path is intended for people who are already experienced coaches in both Scrum and Kanban.  It is a collection of ideas, tools and techniques that will take you from being team oriented to being value oriented. 

This learning path is about techniques, tools and process.  If you are interested in learning how to be a better coach in general, go here.

A great place to start is this amazing 6 minute video that shows how it is not the constraints that affect us as much as how we work with the constraints.  See Theory of Constraints 3 Bottle Demo to Improve Flow.

Note: Some of these pages come from books in the process of being written or blogs written as standalone messages.  These pages will be rewritten in the future for greater continuity, but for now, the messages they contain are too important to hold back because of needed formatting.

The Basics – Mindset

There are many different mindsets in the Agile world. We have found that systems-thinking is a critical foundation for effective software development.

  1. Mindsets
  2. One Size Does Not Fit All, But Perhaps One Mindset Does
  3. The Challenge of Developing Software
    • Systems Thinking and Complex Systems
    • How People Tend to Learn
    • How Organizations Tend to Change
    • The Nature of Software Development
    • Different Approaches for Beginning a Transition
    • Starting a Transition to Better Method of Software Development
    • What to Do After Starting
  4. Manage Workflow not People
  • Why we manage for productivity
  • Why we should manage our workflow
  • Shifting our perspective

Lean and Kanban

An Agile Developer's Guide to Lean Software Development.  This provides a good introduction to Lean for Agile developers. A chapter from our book Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility.

An Overview of Lean-Agile Methods. Alan Shalloway. 9/10. This article provides an overview of the more popular Lean-Agile methods of the last decade, including XP, Scrum, Kanban and Lean.

Demystifying Kanban. This article describes Kanban as a systems approach to software development that affects many different types of behaviors. It also mentions a few of the common misconceptions people have about Kanban in order to help clarify what Kanban is and is not.

Driving From Business Value

Business Case for Agility. This chapter from our book Lean-Agile Software Development describes why software development should be about incremental delivery of business value instead of development iterations.

The Role of Quality Assurance in Lean-Agile Software Development. A chapter from Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility by Alan Shalloway.

Starting Agile

It is common practice to start Agile by starting with getting a team to do Scrum.  Unfortunately, for most organizations, the problems facing the organization are not about how teams work, but rather one of the following:

  • Deciding on the right things to work on
  • Working on too many things
  • Allowing teams to be wantonly interrupted
  • Getting teams to work together
  • Technical debt
  • Getting a solid understanding of what needs to be worked on
  • Lack of automated testing

It is not difficult to create cross functional teams in siloed organizations to do Scrum and achieve a 3-10 times improvement.  Unfortunately, doing so does not necessarily mean you can do this throughout the organization.  When starting pilots, it is important to understand what you are trying to learn from the effort being undertaken.

Where to Begin Your Lean-Agile Transition

Successful Pilots Can Hurt An Agile Organization. Many organizations get into Agile by doing a Scrum pilot project.  They forget that the purpose of a pilot is to see how to promote Agile throughout the organization, not just a team. Scrum pilots typically always succeed, but don’t provide the necessary insights to go beyond the team.

Coordinating Teams with Shared Backlogs Using shared backlogs for 2-5 teams is an effective way to help them work together, avoid delays, confusion and significant rework. ** (included in video "Using SAFe in Small to Mid-Scale Organizations" below)

Driving From Business Value in SAFe While delivered as part of a day of SAFe, this webinar discusses how to drive to business value whether you are doing SAFe or not.

Using SAFe in Small to Mid-Scale Organizations While delivered as part of a day of SAFe, this talk is about working with multiple teams in a 25-300 person organization.  Several case studies are presented:

  • The value of cross-functional teams
  • Dynamic Feature Teams (creating swarming when there are only specialists)
  • Tips for creating cross-functional teams
  • Using shared backlogs to coordinate teams - an alternative to big planning at scale
  • The need for product management at scale

Important Concepts

How Delays Cause Waste: A Main Tenet of Lean

Introducing the Value Stream Impedance Metric

If You Are Working with SAFeTM

Mindsets, Outcomes, and Practices for Lean-Agile Adoption: Insights Provided by SAFe

Additional Resources

Net Objectives Lean-Agile Roadmap Overview. This is a collection of articles and webinars that provide insights into Net Objectives’ approach on scaled Agile.

The Principles of Product Development Flow by Don Reinertsen. Although many Agilists deny that there are laws of software development (i.e., that it's too complex to truly understand) Don has demonstrated that not only are their laws you need to attend to, here they are. An absolute must for a Lean-Agile coach.