My KCE talk on 8th January: Investing in Upstream Flow

I’m speaking on Thursday 8th January at the London Kanban Coaching Exchange on Investing in Upstream Flow: Landscaping a smooth river from idea to execution

It’s great when teams reach delivery maturity with execution at speed and high quality. It’s no surprise that there’s so much emphasis on this because there are still so many people struggling. But it’s important that we don’t just learn how to do the wrong things well.

Organisations need a smoothly functioning upstream system that can take in good ideas from anywhere, triage and decide which get investment. Then safely shepherd and grow them through to adolescence until they are ready to be implemented. This is key to doing the right things well.


Read more…

Demystifying Change: Agile, Lean, TOC, Systems Thinking & 6-Sigma (Part II)

In this short series we’re demystifying the differences between common change methodologies including Traditional Change Management, Agile, Lean, Theory of Constraints, Systems Thinking and 6-Sigma.

In Part I we looked at the big picture and highlighted 16 different aspects. In this article we’ll introduce the six methodologies in more depth, explore their key facets and compare their different objectives.



Read more…

Why Agile Isn’t Automatically Creative

In a current discussion on LinkedIn the question is posed: “Do Agile Methods Create Creativity and Innovation?”.

The answer might sound obvious and at one time I’d have said “Yes, of course” without hesitation. But what the questioner was getting at was how a focus on maximising production on short cycles can leave little or no time to stand back and think outside the box (this was their experience of Scrum – as run in their organisation).

I also thought of explicit creativity exercises and their apparent lack in many Agile approaches (though of course they don’t forbid them).

So let’s resist a quick answer and explore the topic in a little more detail.



Read more…

Demystifying Change: Agile, Lean, TOC, Systems Thinking & 6-Sigma (Part I)

There’s a world of different change methodologies out there and it’s easy to be overwhelmed and unable to choose. For each one there’s an army of consultants ready to tell you theirs is the best.

The reality is very different: every methodology has its strengths and weakness. They each have different goals and suitability for different environments. The ideal solution is almost always a combination of approaches, but you can’t know which combination unless you understand how they work.

So if you want to raise your understanding and be able to make better choices and keep those consultants on their toes, please read on.



Read more…

Measure Outcomes, not People

I recently had an exchange with Jurgen Appelo on Twitter about measuring people’s performance. During the conversation, he said it was impossible to fit the dozen or so recommendations he had into a single tweet.

It all just sounded too complex (complicated? :-) ) to me and why bother with measuring individual performance when there are more useful ways to improve outcomes? So this blog post is to present my own perspective.



Read more…

Pure Kanban: Clearing the fog surrounding a simple and highly practical approach

What is Kanban? You’d think the answer would be simple but there’s a fog of definitions out there, many of which confuse and mix-up useful techniques from Agile, Lean and Systems Thinking with Kanban itself.

The result is confusion with people asking themselves: Am I doing Kanban right? If you’re asking that then you’re misinformed on what Kanban is and how to best harness its power. It’s really very very simple.

You’ll find many definitions of Kanban out there, Joseph Hurtado provides a useful summary of alternatives, David Anderson has his own unique definition and there are many other attempts to define it, some solid and others still evolving.

I don’t like many of them much because they tend to overlook theory and jump straight to defining a cobbled-together set of activities, each one somewhat different to the others. They ignore the fact that these activities are just a small subset of many possible activities, practices, techniques that can naturally follow if you understand the simple theory behind Kanban.

Understanding the theory frees you to create your own activities, practices and techniques that may be better suited to your environment than any “standard” ones you are “supposed” to follow because they are some consultant’s or trainer’s preference. That freedom is what Kanban is really about.

Read on for freedom.


Read more…

Kanban or Scrum? Know your constraints before you take the plunge

Many people think that the answer to their problems is to pick an agile approach and use it to deliver their services. In doing this they frequently put the needs of service development ahead of the wider organisation and risk overlooking well-known constraints and context that will trigger failure. Kanban, Scrum and XP each have several key implications which need to be properly understood before taking the plunge.

It is easy to get obsessed with a service development methodology, particularly when everyone’s talking about it. These days everyone is “agile”, or claims to be, and what could be better than a ready-made approach like Scrum or Kanban that is tried and tested and you can take off the shelf?

Whooah! Stop and hold that decision, just for a moment. Before you make a choice that might trap you.



Read more…