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Comments on common board practices - Walk the board from right to left


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.

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Some kanban Q & A Feb 2017


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 payment

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Comments on common board practices - Focus on the work - not the workers


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.

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Comments on common board practices - It’s not a kanban board if you don’t have a WIP limit


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.

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Comments on common board practices - Colours speaks volumes. Use colours wisely


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.

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Comments on common board practices - Done? There is no Done


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!

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Comments on common board practices - Todo/Doing/Done is not your process


Ok, got a few encouraging comments on the first post so I’ll continue this series. If for nothing else it’s keeping to my orignal blog-idea to write things down to clear it up for me and not forget about it.

This time I wanted to talk about the column themselves, or maybe I dare to talk about the process they reflect. Our process for work!

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Comments on common board practices - blocked should not be a column


It’s very interesting to see how a practice goes from a nice idea to best practice and over to tradition. In my community, the software industry, things move very fast so I’ve seen many examples of this; simple things like formatting of code, background colors of editor all the way to architectural patterns - all of these become default usages and tradition, and sometime “the way it’s done”. Sometimes people calls it cargo cult which refers to that I often do things without really reflecting over why.

When it comes to my field of practice; lean and agile there’s bountyful examples of cargo culting, but in this series of post I wanted to examine a few very practical things that I often notices on how agile team uses their boards.

It will be a little hit-list of my pet issues commonly found on agile/kanban-boards I’ve seen.

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An idea for visualising scope creep


Scope creep is a common phenomenon in software development where the size and workload increases beyond what we first envisioned. In many cases this is so small that it happens without anyone really noticing but sometimes it can degenerate and slow down progress considerably. Sometimes even stopping a progress or team completely.

Scope creep comes from many sources, sometimes from the outside, but I think that the most common one are ourselves:

That value should probably be a configuration property…

What if someone decides to change database server…

This is of course good questions to ask and could be value, but I think there’s more value in getting a feature in front of users and learn about their behavior and how the feature is doing. After that we can harden it, make it more flexible or otherwise improve it.

Drifting away from my main topic… So now you’ve experienced scope creep too and how easy it is to fall into. See what I did there ^^

On a more serious note - this post is really about how I’ve seen scope creep being visualised and managed by a few teams on their board.

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Some roles I take on - and what they are


The other day I heard someone distinguish between a few roles that I take on from time to other. I’ve never made the different between those roles clear to myself and as a consequence I end up doing them all at the same time, in my consulting.

This can sometimes be confusing for me, and my clients but makes me also ineffective in the role I’m trying - or is expected to play. I actually wrote about this in a post a few years ago - without really knowing what kind of problem I was addressing.

In this post I wanted to share a few thoughts on these different roles and hopefully

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Some thoughts after running the marshmallow challenge with kids


Sometimes I get the opportunity to try things that I never done before, or didn’t think that I would dare. Do those things if you get the chance. Always do them! I never regretted taking one of those opportunities, after they are over.

In this case I got the opportunity to talk with a bunch of school kids (14-16 year olds) about Lean, experimenting and how to iterate ever faster by improving your process. It was quite the experience and I wanted to share some highlights of the time I had together with them.

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3 success factors for a big room planning


A few months back I blogged about the practice of big room planning made famous by SAFe (™) through their Product Increment planning session.

For the record I still think it’s a great event and every time we have run it we have come out the other end in a more aligned, enlightened and excited state than when we went in. And for the record I still think it’s just a phase in our process improvement that we should move away from, in a suitable pace.

I’ve been running 3 or 4 big room planning sessions now and I’m starting to see pattern of what bites us the most and what is the foundation of being successful in these session.

In this post I wanted to share the top 3-4 (there might be few slipping in there) things that I’ve found paramount in order to have a great planning session worth the time and effort.

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Here people are saying kind things about each others


I’m very proud of my church (or corps as we say in the Salvation Army - the Vasa Corps of Stockholm. The moment I came there I felt right at home and I’m more than happy to, voluntary, spend a lot of my leisure time in the different groups of the church.

About a month ago I heard someone, that is new to our congregation, say something that summarised a lot of the spirit in the church:

Here people are saying kind things about each other

That did not only make me feel very proud and happy, but also signals a culture that holds true for many of the great place I’ve been working in or associated with.

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Some useful practices for flow oriented standup meetings


A daily stand-up is a really common and very good practice among many agile teams.

It was popularized by Scrum but is very useful in almost any setting.

Over the last 4-5 years I’ve seen how many of the initial practices and recommendation have change a bit. For me the primary factor for these changes has been the focus on flow.

In this post I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve seen changed and also a reason as to why. There’s a sentence in this post that (almost) got me fired … so this will be valuable for us all, so that we don’t end up in that situation again.

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Bring out the good


The other week I saw the most amazing transformation of a person I’ve seen in a few years. The number one spot is taken by Ibu Elsye.

As many of the other times I’ve seen changes like these I realize that the transformation, as well as the state before and after, are solely (not largely, but solely) created by the system we create for people.

I’ll elaborate on that as soon as I’ve described the change that I saw.

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Design our work


We had a process improvement discussion the other day in one team I’m working with now and we realized that we were actually would slow down our process a bit now, but in the long run gain flow.

I asked the team to design their work to help us flow better, but it would of course, initially increase, the workload. Basically we would increase work in process, which of course felt strange for everyone, not at least me… since I was the one recommended.

In this post I wanted to explain why this can sometimes be a good idea and hopefully give you some ideas as to when this can be a useful option.

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Reflections on TankWars or when 2 minutes was slow


My current team have a practice to do something “learning, inspiring and future-leaning” on every other Friday. We called it LAME (Learning Afternoon Mob Experience) since we started to run it on Friday afternoons first, but have recently changed into running it for a full day every other week.

The other week we decided to give TankWars a go. It great fun and educational, and I got to observe an interesting phenomena about learning and feedback.

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The best product owner I ever met


One of the things that many agile approaches, that I’ve been involved in or nearby, get stuck on is the role of the Product Owner. The role simply doesn’t sit right in bigger organisations. I think there are many reasons for that and I will share a few in this post.

I also wanted to share an unlikely but great example of a great product owner that I met at my current client.

Finally I will share some ideas on how to remedy the problems often found around the product owner role in big organisations (where I mostly worked).

But first let’s meet a great product owner.

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A decade of blogging...


Ten years ago today I started this blog.

I really can’t believe that sentence just looking at it. But during that time I’ve learned so much by putting my understanding into words and out on the internet that I really cannot value the experience of having a blog enough.

In this post I wanted to share a few highlights from the 1066 posts (including this) I’ve written and all the stories and relations it has created.

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Who is this important for?


From time to time we might end up with policies and ways of working that just seems like it’s “the way we do things here”. It can be tooling, procedures and even contractual policies but also many of the practices that we take for granted in agile and lean software development; stand ups, boards or user stories.

I’ve found that thinking outside of the context that we have created for ourselves is often very hard, and I am the first one to default to things that worked for me before.

In this post I wanted to introduce you to two questions and thoughts that helped me pushed me out of my comfort zone and let me ponder;

Is this really important? For who?

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