I have been working with a team now for close to 6 months. It’s the same old story; team has a lot of very important things to do from 4-5 different stakeholders around the company, team try to keep up, stakeholders around them get upset with the slow progress on the “features”, team struggles under a lot of tech debt that team postponed earlier to get faster progress on the “features”.
If you’ve been in any larger IT organisation the last 20 years, you know this story. Your basic “hard-working, well-intending, trying to cope with the demand from the organisation”-development team.
What I’ve found fascinating with this team, except that the engineers are amazing developers, is that the whole team feels trap. I’ve asked them numerous times to cut down on work in process (WIP) or cutting items into smaller pieces. Every time I’ve got confused looks and people say things like:
But it’s already on our backlog. We cannot do anything about that.
The other day we tried to do something about this and in doing that we found a key principle from lean that was missing here. We also discovered two different aspects of planning that helped us to sort this up.
In this post, I wanted to share what I learned about these principles and ideas. And show what we did. There’s nothing earthshattering here. It’s just kanban in action and some lean thinking.Read on ...
I had a problem and I noticed that I’ve, in the last couple of years, started to think differently about how to solve problems like these. I thought I share the solution to my problem here but also a little bit about the reasoning behind my problem solving.
The problem is easy enough to describe: I wanted to extract all the images from 20+ Word documents. I decided to write a script and share it here.Read on ...
This little clip pops up from time to time in my twitter feed
I finding absolutely mesmerising and it’s fascinating to watch and see each of the individual crew members in action. Pick one and follow his actions and you’ll see what I mean.
Let me tell you what thought about.Read on ...
One of the things I miss with being a programmer that you can look back on a day and see stuff that has been done. Or, better yet, when you know a bunch of code that you’re going to write but haven’t written it yet. I kind of like that feeling.
Nowadays I often have a really hard time looking back on a day and point to something that I have achieved (other than conversations and if I’m lucky some new realizations). And before I start my day there’s just a bunch of meetings to be had. Nothing concrete.
Ok ok - this post was about one particular practice, I often used when I coded, that I got reminded of the other day. And that I now tried to get that idea into my ordinary schedule. So far it’s been very useful.Read on ...
This summer I decided to read The Machine that change the world. This a must-read for every Lean aficionado and the book that first coined the term in the first place.
It was very interesting to see the authors utter fascination of the ways of the Japanese car manufacturer, much of which was the opposite of whatever was the de facto standard for mass production at the time.
My favourite part was the history of car manufacturing that and how the Toyota Production system grew came out of necessity in a country that, at the time, was way behind and with little resources as well as little buying power.Read on ...
The other day a man that I respect very high, Jabe Bloom, tweeted a question:
I tweeted a response but that question got me thinking. I wanted to expand a little bit further than a tweet and this post is where I did that.Read on ...
Sweden is an amazing country in many regards. One of the best is the by law required 5 weeks vacation per year. I know because I just came back from four of them.
However, in this day of eternal connectivity, social media and culture of responsive being awesome I sometimes have a hard time winding down and really get into vacation mode.
This year was different.
First I went on a 8 week social media fast, which helped me slow the tempo down quite a bit before my rest started.
I also tried a new way of handling my Out-of-office reply in my work email. This post is about my strategy to handling that.Read on ...
I once was coaching at a team and had a big problem getting their attention and interest. We had many discussions about improvements and I used most of my tools but saw very little change.
It took me quite some time to understand why this was hard, but after a while it stood out like a soar and obvious thumb. And I felt so stupid not seeing that before.
It has to do with purpose and intent.Read on ...
The word backlog has a negative ring to me (and I think to Swedish people in general). A backlog is a list of tasks that and I’ve yet not completed, things that still is required from me or my team. Putting something on a backlog is a nice way of saying; we will look at it… eventually.
(Business) Impacts, on the other hand, has a much more positive, forward-leaning ring to it. Here a bunch of opportunities that we still haven’t tried, that potentially make us even better.
Now it’s a bit sad that backlog is a central word in agile because I think it misses the point, quite a bit, and sets us in a defensive mood from the start.
In this post, I wanted to explore some thoughts I have had in my head on why we should stop using backlogs and start using impacts. Not only the words but the entire list altogether.Read on ...
Today with my team I tried something new for our retrospective. There were a few reasons for me trying something new.
Although I think that retrospectives are a fundamental practice of any agile team and the foundation for a continuous improvements mindset … I still think that I suck at facilitating them. And I cannot get excited about doing so.
Most retrospectives become a wailing-fest of the bad things that happens and very seldom leads to actionable small (!) items that we can implement to improve.
Also … I forgot to book a room after moving the retrospective in time.
These things led me to be a little bit innovative and we ran the retrospective today as described below.
The post will be the description of how to run the retrospectives, a few lines of correct attributions and then a few thoughts about why this worked. Because it was really good! Actually.Read on ...
I had a colleague on one of my gigs many years ago, let’s call him Olle (since that was his name). Olle just got a blood pressure meter for Christmas. He was around 45, at the time, and in reasonably good health, according to himself. But he was one of those guys that “had everything” and someone got him this machine. Mostly for fun.
Now, as he as a gadget geek he loved this new toy and of course started to use it. And he kept records in Excel. A few weeks after he started to track his health, to his horror he saw that he was getting worse by the day he measured.
Now, at the time when he told me this, he just started to measure 3-4 times a day and the result were not promising; his blood pressure was through the roof.
He had a doctors appointment later that afternoon to get proper medication.
I think I’m becoming Olle. And it’s JIRAs fault. And mine own. Mostly my own.Read on ...
Scrum was my first love in agile. I still remember the revolution and excitement I felt after the Scrum Master course and when I and my colleague Öystein started our first Scrum team. It was awesome!
Later I moved on to more flow based approaches when I ended up in environments where Scrum was not a great fit with it s iterations and locked down scope.
Scrum and I was far away from a time. There are no hard feelings but we just don’t hang around much anymore.
I saw someone tweet something like;
I feel like many people talking about Scrum doesn’t really know what it’s about. Really.
Something like that. I felt that it was about me. So I decided to read the official Scrum guide and take some notes. They are summarized in this post.Read on ...
In 2013 I got invited to write blog posts for CodeBetter.com. I was quite surprised and honoured, since that’s a place where I’ve read many great posts over the year.
I hopped to the challenge though (never regretted doing that) and ended up writing 6 posts, before I lost tempo.
I’m actually proud of all those posts and wanted to preserve them here on my site also. I noticed that CodeBetter.com has slowed down and went away completely the other week without anyone noticing. So I thought it would be better to save them somewhere else.
Here’s they are:Read on ...
A couple of months ago I was very fortunate to work alongside a great team. They had a not so envious task before them, namely to introduce a new main concept into an legacy code base. You know, the code has been around for at least 5 years and now you need to add a concept that was no-one ever thought we would have in there.
They did that. In just 3-4 months and delivered with flying colours. I didn’t have much to do with that, I merely observed their work.
When they were done I proudly introduced the team to a new senior in the company and told him about their feat and how they had gone about doing it. His words: well, that’s Lean backwards then.
He was right, but I never thought about it until then. In this post I’ll describe how they worked, what the “lean” way would have looked like and what we can learn from the difference.
Let me just say that the way the team went about their worked, and the feature was a success in production. Very high quality (2 bugs reported if I’m not mistaken) and well received. In order to not put any blame on that great team I will talk about “we” in this post. Although I didn’t have much to do with their success.Read on ...
When our board is lined up as our process it’s quite often an array of columns starting to the left when the idea first comes into mind (or in a backlog column) continuing down our workflow, adding more and more value until it reaches our customers where we can learn from the usage of our new feature.
Although it could be tempting to go through the columns from left to right in our morning meeting, I would suggest that you consider doing the opposite.
My job is to help clients to use and adapt the principles of lean and agile to achieve a better flow of value. Sometimes I get questions from friends and old clients about how to do specific things. And sometimes I get questions from complete strangers.
Last Tuesday was such a day when Emily reached out via email and asked me three insightful questions.
I was happy to do that and my “fee” was that I can publish the questions and my answers here on the blog. So you’re reading my paymentRead on ...
Many daily stand up meetings follow the patterns originally from Scrum - that is we ask each individual what they did yesterday, what they are going to do today and if anything is blocking them.
This is a nice sentiment but misalign our focus.
Because making sure that people are busy is not important… at least not compared to making work flow.
There’s an easy way to change our focus, at least in our morning meetings.
When kanban first came into common use and practice it was often posed as an alternative to Scrum. Well, as Torbjörn Gyllebring told us many years ago, kanban is not your process. Kanban is a process improvement tool and works on whatever process you apply it to. It’s one of the powers of the tool and the reason I like kanban so much.
However, for many early adopters of kanban, removing the cermonies of Scrum sometimes went overboard and we removed everything that constrained us and made us make tradeoffs. Kanban - love it! No planning, no sprints, no constraints - it’s just our board and work flows as fast as it flows… Nice!
Well - it’s not really a kanban board if you don’t have a work in process limit. Let me explain a bit further.
One of the things that always catches my attention when I walk past a board is the colours of the stickies. Why? Because colours requests our attention and can help us in understanding more about a thing. Red is naturally a warning (in western culture at least), green feels ok, etc.
This is why I get troubled when I hear that the reason that we have chosen the colours of the stickies on our board is “because we took the ones that was closest to us”.
That is sad and I share a few thoughts on how to improve on that state of mind - it’s easy.
This comment is closely related to the comment about columns. In this post I’m more specifically want to talk about the “Done”-column. The last column on most boards. I’m on a crusade to rename Done all over the world.
Let’s do it! Done-column - you’re going down!Read on ...