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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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Big room planning - a workaround that can be useful


I’ve just completed my first ever big room planning meeting (a type of exercise made famous by SAFe in their PI Planning). That was quite an excerises and I’m totally worn out. But also immensely impressed by the team and the amount of learning that took place in the room today.

It was quite noisy at times but after 8 hours we went home with our sights aligned and a much better feel for what we will do the upcoming period (5 weeks in our case).

Still I could not get one thought out of my head. It stuck there a few days back and won’t get unjammed:

This big room planning stuff is really an anti-pattern and should be eliminated

In this post I want to explain why and also tell you why I still think it was great.

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Move the information to the authority considered harmful


I’m a big fan of David Marquet and his Turn the Ship around book that shows on excellent form of leadership but also challenge the way organisations are viewed and managed.

My favourite quote is a simple one:

Move the authority to the information

I like it so much that I’ve already 2 years ago wrote a blog post about that idea, outlining why this is a good thing and how we can save a lot of effort and time in moving the information back and forth.

The other week I realised that there’s other, more subtle and viscous wastes in continuing to move the information to the authority (as we do now). In this post I will describe what that is and how to avoid it.

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Principles over (best) practices


This is another post in the impromptu series “Marcus explains his tweets in more detail”.

In this post I wanted to talk a little realisation that I’ve grown into the last couple of years

It might sound obvious at first (or not) - but I see many signs of that we, especially in the agile community, do the opposite. Let’s see if I can explain my thinking or if I make a fool out of myself - that alone might be worth reading this. Lets go!

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No heroics and awesome people


I’ve from time to time said things like:

but at the same time I think that it’s a good thing to:

Stand back and let people be awesome

In this post I wanted to try to sort these two separate statements out and see where the common ground for them are.

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Toyota Kata and the 'We can't do that here'-fallacy


I’m re-reading the Toyota Kata book right now I had forgotten how much it influenced my thinking. If you haven’t read it - go and do that now. Don’t read this post - read the book. I won’t mind.

Toyota Kata is what the author, Mike Rother, calls the mindset and practices that Toyota employs to get continuous improvement to work. Note that Toyota themselves might not recognise the term Toyota Kata, because it’s just how they do.

The book is filled with wonderful stories that shows clearly about how the Toyota mindset influence every aspect about the continuous improvement work there.

In this post I wanted to relate one such story that I meet so often in my daily work and reason a little bit why Toyota (and other lean organisations of course) navigates out of those problems with ease. Whereas I get stuck again and again.

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It's all perspective - why haven't I seen that before?


The other week I attended a course that introduced a lean and agile mindset to a group of leaders in a company. My role was to sit back and observe (and to shoot in some of my experience during the training) - here’s one thing I observed.

At one point in time, after we’ve been through the agile manifesto and the principles, and finally the principles of Lean Software development a high ranking manager next to me raised his voice and said:

This all sounds very good. I buy all of it. Its common sense. But the one thing that I don’t get is why we realise this now. We are doing something very different than this now - have we been stupid before?

The discussion that followed was very fruitful and the people in the room learned a lot. But I wanted to go beyond the question. Because he’s of course not stupid - he’s very knowledgable and experienced. And so was everyone else in the room.

But why does things that sounds very good, is common sense and that I buy all of it - comes out like something totally different and unnatural in many organisations.

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