- sharing is learning

function share(knowledge){ return share(++knowledge) }

Things I say often: I don't care about efficiency

I’ve talked more about effectiveness vs efficiency than you all care about. The reason for this fascination might be that the word is mixed up in Swedish I guess; there’s only one word for these both concepts. Boooh… Swedish.

Because the difference is paramount.

In the excellent book the Goal Dr Goldratt puts it like this:

Productivity is meaningless unless you know what your goal is

This is the same thing. I hear many people talking about efficiency, or that we should become both effective and efficient and yes, but all means, become efficient. BUT don’t speak another word about that until we all have a shared view on what the goal is. Without a clear goal - there can be no effectiveness. And then efficiency is pointless, as Dr Goldratt said.

My favorite explanation for the difference of effectiveness and efficiency makes this very clear;

Usian Bolt take the blocks. He has trained his muscles to perfection - they are very efficient for moving him fast. He has the latests experimental shoes from Pumaddike on - super efficient! No air resistant at all. The same goes for his clothing - they are super light, no air resistance. He knows how to get out of the blocks the fastest in the world. Even his hearing and reflexes are the best in the world. He’s focused. Everything around him is blocked out. Now the referee is calling “Set”. Usian Bolt is preparing his body.

BAM - the gun goes off. Perfect start! It’s the fastest ever measured speed in the world. His leg movements are amazing, his hands is held perfect.

But… he’s running off the track right into the middle of the field.

He’s very very efficient but not very effective. Because he didn’t know the goal.

All that efficiency… wasted.

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Emergency lanes - some tips

One of the things that first made kanban known and loved was the introduction of emergency lanes. Or at least the lack of fixed scope for a sprint where sudden urgent work items was hard to handle in other methods.

Many kanban boards have an emergency lane. However often I see it abused (or being feared to be abused) and hence it will not be as useful as it could be. It’s a really great tool, both for “product owners” and the team alike. In this post I wanted to share some policies that I’ve found useful to manage emergency-lanes (or equivalent).

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Things I say often: I run on feedback

This thing I say often “thing” is quite new and a bit personal. It’s very important for me personally and I hope that you like it.

I’ve had the great, but scary, opportunity to play a couple of times under the late James Watson. For any non-brass-players he’s one of the truly great trumpet players of the world, brought up as a wonder boy in the brass band movement. Later in his career he returned and made the world famous Black Dyke Band into a new being - possibly changing what people thought a brass band could be for ever.

Also - he’s know for being very … direct … even mean sometimes during rehearsals. But I fondly remember a lot of things from the hours I got to spend under his direction.

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Things I say often: I'm into leadership - not management

This is just a short one. I don’t know where I picked the thought up, probably from David Marquet or Simon Sinek.

But really I’m so tired about talking about management for organisation and teams. Manage. That’s what I do with computer resources, stuff and sheeps.

I have higher thoughts for just about every person I ever met. If something these people need a leader. Someone that points, with clarity, towards the better future we are trying to reach, creates an environment where I can feel safe and give room and be challenged to be the best I can be.

I much rather talk about leadership and leading than management and managing. Leadership is what you use on people, management is for your pens or harddisks.

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Make it smaller - some practical experiences

One of the “clients” I work with right now is a hospital. We have tried to turn their performance around and they are improving immensely. In fact - I think they will be just fine. I did not think that just 4 months ago.

One of the things that we have talked with the management team about is trying to do smaller things often and act on the feedback we get from that. Nothing new … in software development or other lean practicationers, but in this setting. I hear eyelids popping open everyday.

How does that look? What have we done? Most of the work we have done has not directly with health care to do but rather change management and business in general. Very practical stuff mostly. In this post wanted to share two of our current projects (or Focus areas as we call them) where our approach made a big difference.

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Things I say often: NO! This is how you tear off a post-it

I’ve said this so often that we even wrote about it in the Kanban In Action. It’s not a book about tearing off post-it’s but it’s the printed kanban literature most geeky sidebar.

Post-it’s is such an integral part of agile that I’ve several times thought that the founding members probably own stocks in 3M.

I know embarrassing amounts of information about post-its; how it, accidentally, was invented, why the color is the pale yellow, why the glue is where it is, how to open a pack with one hand, or a knee etc.

But this simple little trick is something that most people I tell it to have not reflected about.

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Things I say often: Improving means changing

I’ve already written about this before, but Hey - this was a series about things I said often.

Basically, but please read the other post instead, many times I’ve been at companies that want to improve but don’t want to change. This is impossible. Improving means changing. Changing doesn’t necessary means improving though.

To me this is one of the biggest misconceptions about agile; that it would be something that the IT-guys can start working with and we’ll all be better. It’s not. If you change something locally the impact will also just be local.

In the great book This is Lean the authors defines Lean as a business strategy. I like that and the same goes for agile:

  • it’s a strategy - there are many ways to reach your goal, this is just one
  • it’s about business. It’s not about the robots in your factory, just the developer or just the deployment script. it’s about how we do Business here.

My favorite example of this was at Swedish insurance company where I was invited to “help them get started with agile, to get faster time to market”. I’d say! When we started it was 9 months from idea to production, 22 different steps or decision points. Out of this time ca 4 days was spent coding.

Where did we start optimize? Yes, you guessed it. The other things was not IT and hence agile was not for them. “We can’t change that - it’s always been like this.” and “Hey kid, we’ve done projects like this for 25 years. Don’t come and change it now. Just get it better.”

That’s not only a tall order (like the kid-reference though, 39 years old at the time). It’s impossible. Improving means changing.

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Things I say often: Why?

Really … this is probably the word I use most often. And I’m proud of it!


It’s not only because I’m ignorant and forget things a lot, but to me this is where knowledge is started to be created. I’m guessing I could write an entire book on just this single word, so this post will just be a few thoughts of the top of my head.

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Things I say often: This is your board - change it

I have probably introduce around 80-100 teams to the use of some sort of board to visualize their work. One of the things that I often … ah, always say and also have to repeat is this:

Nobody has told us to create a board. We do this for us. This is great because that it means that we can change it how WE see fit
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New series: 'Things I say often'

New year - new blog series. I was thinking about writing down some of the things that I find myself repeating often.

These post will be short, and possible link to places where I’ve already said this already.

I will collect these post under the label Things I say often

I don’t have a list made up already, so I’ll write things when they pop into my head. Here’s first things I that sprung to mind.

I hope you will enjoy this series. I know I will benefit from writing some of these down.

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Best advice for me this year

When a year has passed I often try to think back and find the one most important thing I learned. This year that was a bit tricky since I’ve learned so amazingly much. So good - and some bad.

The single piece of advice I got that stood out was about presenting. And it came from one of my oldest friends, one that I call my brother: Kalle. Kalle is a pretty young guy but he’s very thoughtful and … yes I’ll say it: wise.

Another thing that stands out with him is the fact that he’s just become a Salvation Army Officer, a pastor if you want.

The advice I got from him was just before I was about to deliver my first ever “message”, or short sermon. I had asked him for all kinds of things about this but the final thing he left me with was:

The most important thing is to pray that you will become small so that the message will be bigger / clearer

or in other words:

You are not the most important thing!

BAM! It hit me like lightning; this is of course true for every presentation you ever give. You are not the most important thing - the message and how your audience receives / understands it is.

Sadly, when i look back, I have focused more on how I will present, how I will look or come out, will they laugh here, will they find me knowledgable. Not on the message.

But not since that comment. This simple little sentence made me restructure my presentations but mostly gave me a new approach to my material. Even old material was improved just by approaching with another goal.

Thank you Kalle! I am better thanks to you.

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Our Christmas Scare

This will not be an ordinary post. Just a write up of something horrible that happened to us during Christmas. It ends well, but was a horrible time in our lives.

During the Christmas our family experienced the worst scare and troubled time yet. In Indonesia but also in our lives. It all looks like it will play out alright but many people have asked me to share the story, so i will do that here. If I find the strange I’ll write a follow up post with some lean-learnings that this could teach us, but not now.

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Ferguson never touched the ball

I’m a coach for teams and organizations. At many of my clients I don’t do anything… Or I’m not typing code maybe is a way of formulating it since I’m very much involved in what goes on (and I also want other companies to hire me).

But really I’ve had a hard time to come to grips with what I’m really doing. Many days is just listening (really just that) or maybe make sure that two people talk. Other days it might be sitting down with someone and think. Or redraw a board that we decided to do but everyone found to boring. I’ve also done training, or suggested other trainers to come by or even suggested that we’d just try something new, like mob programming.

But I’m quite often not very busy and when you look back in what is produced it’s hard to see my foot print (very few check-ins under my name for example).

So what good am I? What do I do? How could you measure the effect of having someone like me in the team, at the company?

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What is The Goal?

I’ve been re-reading The Goal. For the fourth time. And I still got that buzz from it. It’s such a great book - I recommend it to anyone interested in business and becoming more effective.

The book of course got me thinking waaay to big thoughts for my small head and I went all gaga over it and tried to convince people around me that we need to rethink why we are here etc.

This time however I dared to question the book too. I love it. So much that I think it will take me question it a little bit.

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50 Quick Ideas on User stories

Now, if there ever was a book that filled a need this is it! I cannot count the number of teams and companies that have struggled to get user stories right - this book is packed with practical, solid, experienced based advices on how to improve how you use user stories to your advantage.

Throughout the short book the authors share their vast experience and again and again shows us that user stories is less about the tool and more about the thinking and approach to software development that follows with it.

I like the structure of each idea that gives a background, a rational and some practical advice on how to get started. Add to this the funny, informative and beautiful graphics that accompanies each idea and you end up with just an awesome book.

The book is organized in 5 parts that connects nicely into the natural software development cycle. For each of the part there’s 10 ideas that you might benefit from, or that can help you improve. To me, this book serves best as a reference book, or something that you use for inspiration when trying to solve a particular problem or situation in how user stories are used. Reading the book as prose from start to finish made it a bit hard to remember all the things I learned, for me.

That might also be my only criticism to the book; each idea leaves me wanting more. But that’s built into the format of such a short, succinct book - I guess. Luckily the authors have left us with plenty of further reading, links and a site where further discussions can be held and more material can be found.

If you ever found yourself not understanding how to fit user stories into your process, or if you think that user stories are not really worth doing - read this. It opens your eyes for more ideas and more options.

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Evaluating my presentations... and pricing them?

I’m waiting at a train station to go back after doing 2 presentations on kanban. It’s super hot, I’m tired and it’s 2 hours to wait before my train, with AC, comes. Perfect time to write a blog post in other words. (I’m also happy, proud and healthy again after my flu - came out a bit pessimistic there for awhile).

One of the things that’s always included in my presentation is a slide that asks for feedback. “I love feedback” is my presenter notes and then I ask the people in the room to give me some.

I have experimented with a few ways to get proper and honest feedback and I wanted to share my latests experiment.

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How would you measure that?

I’ve been very much into Specification by example in my software development consulting. One of the key learnings for me there is to try to make things concrete earlier. Using specification by example we do this by, for each of the features we’re building, sketching down some concrete examples on how that would work.

For example; let’s say that we are building a on-line store and the business rule says Shipping is free for order with 3 items. That’s pretty easy, right? We all have a good opinion on how that rule should be… but is it the same opinion?

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What I've learned from 'How to measure anything'

When Joakim and I wrote the book we had a chapter on measurement in it, chapter 11 - “Using metrics to guide improvements”. It was intended to show a few ways that metrics can be used in a flow-based process that uses kanban for improvements.

When we wrote it I happened to show it to Torbjörn Gyllebring since he’s very sincere in his criticism. His first words:

You can't write a word about measurements if you haven't read "How to measure anything"

When you have not read that book and writing a lot of words on measurements… hearing that has a bit of a “DOH!”-effect on you and your writing. But Joakim had and that made me feel a little better. I was largely satisfied with the chapter too.

But now I have read it and I wanted to share some of the main points that I’ve picked up from this great book by Douglas W. Hubbard. How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business is the name and link for the book. It’s an awesome read and I recommend anyone to read it.

This is not a review per se but rather three points that I’ve picked up from the book and that already now have helped me immensely.

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Data you can't do anything about - what's the use?

Just a short post about data and a common objection. At my current client we have a lot of data about the customers (patients at a hospital) that we serve each day. We have measured the same way for about 4 months now so it’s pretty accurate.

Lately I started to see a trend about how the patients is spread. Here’s a typical month. See how the Sundays is really bad (yeah, that’s the super low points). But there’s another trend here. The weeks keeps falling - I thought at least. The Mondays are always best and the number of served patients gets lower and lower.

What can we learn from that?

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My post scaffolder for Jekyll

I’ve just started to use Jekyll as my blogging engine. It’s mostly nice but I’m getting used to a new tool. And maybe actually the lack of tools since it’s just markdown and git.

One of the things that I found early to be a stumbling block was to create a new post. Since I’m still fresh to the structure of the YAML front-matter I found myself copying and pasting. Missing and missunderstanding.

So I looked for a post generator and found this gist that is used, at the command line, to scaffold up the structure of a new blog post.

Let me show you how I tweaked it and a problem that I ran into, being a newbie.

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