Board visualisation tips

Quite often I get to introduce people to using a “work visualization board” (often referred to as a kanban board), these days. When I do I’m struck with the common misconceptions that follow many tools - especially tools that I have been nudged (or forced) to use.. I wanted to share a few of the things that find myself repeating to new users of kanban boards. A board is just a tool A board visualizes your work. That is its use. Just like a hammer is used to hit (and occasionally extract) nails. Use this tool to get more value from the tool. If you find the board “being a pain in the ass” or “hindering from working at all” then you should probably find another way to visualize your work. I strongly suggest that you visualize the work somehow, but find a way that doesn’t hinder you, especially not...
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Bash script to add file(s) to all repositories in an organisation

Hey Marcus, can you just add a License file to each of our repositories? All of them? Yeah, all 42… This was a task given to me about 50 minutes ago. I’m done now. Obviously I spent all that time writing a script to do this. And I wanted to share this with you guys and my future self. Obviously I learned a lot as well. Game plan My game plan was pretty easy: Create a LICENSE with the proper text. Clone all repositories of the organisation to a new folder Loop over all the repositories and add the LICENSE file to each of them Add and commit to git and then push to the remote repository Create a static license file I went to Choose A License , picked an appropiate license and create a file out of that text. I ensured to update it with our company name....
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Kanban - cementing the flow?

I got another email from a former client that I wanted to answer here on the blog. In fact, in this instance, I also got the same question during a Lean Coffee discussion at a current client too. Without stating the whole email the questions were a little bit like this: With kanban - isn’t there a risk that you lock in and cement the different parts of the board? Also, are we not risking to focus too much on the efficiency of the individual steps in the workflow? Since the board clearly shows bottlenecks in some areas we risk putting in an effort to solve that and then just move the workload to another place in the workflow. and then in the lean coffee I don’t like those columns - it looks like a waterfall. I just want DOING to show that we are working together. Well.. thanks for...
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3 basic (priorization) assumptions

The last couple of weeks I have talked a lot about prioritization at my current client. In many conversations, I’ve felt the need to go back the foundation of things that I build my coaching and consulting on. For example, I might question how we prioritized as we done, and then I notice that people become defensive - thinking that I am questioning them rather than the way. This has led me to reflect, formulate and then re-iterate three basic assumptions that are increasingly important to me: Everyone did their best, and continue to do so There’s always more work to do than we have the capacity to do We don’t know what will work best Let me describe a little bit more what I mean. Everyone did their best (and continue to do so) This is probably (who knows - my brain … I don’t always trust it myself)...
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Playing with names

At my current client, we are trying to make a change to focus more on flow than on resource utilization. This is harder than it sounds because much of the current ways of working, structures, roles and rewards are built to support another mindset. One of the things that lately have popped up for me are the words we are using to describe the roles we have in different parts of the organisation. This heavily prevailing in the IT-industry and maybe agile actually has helped to cement a few of these (an excellent keynote by Michael Feathers put me onto that idea). This also ties into a great quote from David L. Marquet and his excellent Turn the Ship around book There’s no they on Santa Fee! Let me try to explain. On the sub When David Marquet was the captain on USS Santa Fee (a submarine, read the book...
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What should I pick?

I got a question the other day from Enea Zuliani and Michele Degrassi. It was particularly heartwarming to read as they just read Kanban In Action and now have started to use. Kanban. In action. They now had a question and I asked if I could share that question and my answer here on the blog. They kindly obliged. Here’s the question (I’ve edited it a bit): Dear Markus, let me get back to you with a question. If an agent has to choose between different kanbans (cards) which one to work on, and all the kanbans have the same characteristics (dimensions, etc.) and he can actually decide to work on every one of them, is there any “rule” you might suggest in order to pick a kanban - everything else being equal? Kanbans or not kanbans First of all - excellent use of the word kanban (that literally means...
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Reflections after Agile Greece

I’ve just attended Agile Greece Summit which was a wonderful event. Many awesome speaker, met a few of my heroes (Linda Rising, Michael Feathers, David Snowden and Mark Schwartz) and met new friends (Portia Tung, Alison Coward, Lisi Hocke, Gary Crawford and Gwen Diagram, just to mention a few) and finally had many interesting and challenging conversations throughout the conference. All in all it was a very good event to attened, expertly organised by an awesome team and I consider myself lucky to have been here. As with many conferences an underlying theme starts to emerge from the different talks. I suspect we take inspiration from other speakers and conversations, but I’ve observed this too many times to think it’s a coincidence. I wanted a few reflections that I got during this conference. It can be summed up in a few very strange sentences: It’s all about people, and they...
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Some reflections after a few days as a musician

I’ve had the great opportunity to do some extra work in a very different environment this week; I’ve been a musician in a professional orchestra - the awesome Östgöta Blåsarsymfoniker. It was quite a treat to work in this group and get to play my instrument on a high level. Also, as an amateur, getting paid to play my instrument is … mindboggling. Being part of this group for a few days made me notice a few rituals and practices that I think we can learn from. I wanted to share a few thoughts on them here. Below I will list a few practices and rituals that we did. First I had an idea of writing something about how to translate this into practices for my “home” industry, IT. But I decided against that. Because I wanted to give you the opportunity to find ways. Warming up. Together The first...
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What I learned when installing 33 developer computers in 5 hours

Yesterday I had a very interesting task for a client. I work as (brace yourselves for a cool title) “Head of curriculum” for School of Applied Technology. They create and run bootcamps and the first one we are running is “Fullstack JavaScript developer with React and Express”. That title means that I’ve been creating the content of the course together with the person (Jakob) teaching it. Ok, to the point of this post. Part of this work means that we need 33 students to get up and running with their developer computers super fast. We want code to be written after a few hours. Said and done - I created a set of dotfiles which will configure their computers properly with all the tools and (my opinionated) settings they will need. Yesterday 33 MacBook Pros came to the Aptitud office and 5 hours later I had installed, configured and test...
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Integrate JIRA search results in Google Sheets for fun and profit

As an agile coach working in bigger companies you are sound exposed to JIRA. JIRA - a tool that started out as a good idea and then grew into … a not as good idea. But hey - we got to live with it, I suppose. </rant> In this post I wanted to show you how to easily import data from a JIRA query to Google Sheets (or Excel I presume). That is, in all honesty, not that complicated so I will share a few other tips around this whole process. In short: Tweaking export of JIRA data for fun and profit Creating a filter JIRA has a really powerful tool in searching for issues, through it’s query langauge JQL. If you head on to the search feature (Issues -> Search for issues) we can try something out: Resolution is not empty and labels in (roar-subzero-tech, wtp-unplanned) This will return...
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