Mattias Skarin

Mattias Skarin

Kanban, Lean and Agile mysteries

The lean conference of the year – Stop Starting 2014

Stop Starting Start Finishing . Lean Kanban Nordic 2014

This years Lean Kanban Nordic conference will be something extra. The focus in on improving the full value chain, from concept to cash. You will get an unique opportunities to listen and discuss with practitioners sharing their experience of how they have improved their companies using Lean thinking. For example, learn:

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Why you are better off using a developer than a lawyer when purchasing software

The use of traditional contracts when purchasing software carry a flawed assumption – thinking the contract is the right mean to regulate risk.

The insight is key risks are : skill of the provider, the maturity of the client (yes you!) and ability to communicate honestly during the project. Few of these are effectively regulated using traditional contracts focusing on features, time and money.

Which are the key risks when purchasing software?

  • Lack of provider skill
  • Lack of customer maturity
  • Lack of ability to utilize late learning
  • A one time shot to get any IT updates in my environment
  • I win, you loose approach – no shared economic incentive
  • Lack of communication, during execution

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Coaching questions for a kanban team

Kanban is easy to set up,  maintaining and improving is harder!

When I visit a kanban team, I use these questions to check they know what they are doing. They are helpful since they are not tool focused, rather verifies that there is a  tactic being used. After each question I add “please show it to me” to check it’s a working practice not a paper practice.

  • How do you prioritize?

To work on prioritized content is a human right.

  • How do you ensure you don’t work on too much?

This is what WIP limits in kanban are for. But you might have evolved to other techniques. This verified that you have a deliberate tactic how how to handle this. Maybe you simply par program every task!

  • How do you share knowledge?

Building skill quickly is the way we build capability. If there is no deliberate thought here we cannot scale.

  • How do you improve?

How do we learn about our capability over time? How do you act when if it drops? Typically lead time measurements, queue size in front of team and quality metrics are helpful here. I look to see they are fact based. Simply doing team retrospectives is not enough, we need external and capability feedback too.

  • What should be improved next?

What and why? How do we track progress of improvement activities?

Catch 22 – The egoless, present and curious leader

Every successful implementation of Lean or Agile I have seen has an ingredient that is almost a contradiction.

A leader who

  • has low ego (not interested in putting himself first)
  • is present (he/she has active conversations with teams and other leaders such, as change never comes as a complete surprise)
  • is active (he takes part in building up teams, do not defer hard decisions, he notifies and challenges, using questions, when people behave differently from the values agreed)
  • curious (what is the next step, what should we try, let’s do it)

This is a contradiction in terms. But every great leader I have observed have had as their final goal to eventually remove themselves. A scary thought? In fact not so. All these leaders had plenitude of options to choose from for their next position.  And improvement is never done. There is always a next step.

/mts

Förbättra från start till mål

I denna video berättar jag om vikten av att se till end-to-end ledtid och att den största förbättringspotentialen hos en organisation med Agila team ofta ligger i  stegen innan utveckling påbörjas.

(for english readers: In this video I tell about the importance of improving end-to-end lead time -  not only think about the development portion of it)

Video from “Improving the full value chain using Lean” @ LKCE 2013

lkce_mattias

I had the privilege of both attending and speaking at Lean Kanban Central Europe (LKCE) in 2013.  (Awesome conference). In my talk I share insights and techniques useful when improving the full value chain, across functions in a software product organization.

Here’s a video on my talk.

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Learning to communicate requirements, even Agile, the human way

Our human brain is way better interpreting visual information (images) than any other information. Evolution taught us to survive this way. Yet, still today, the most common form to deliver requirements is … text. In the old waterfall days it meant a lot of text, today using Agile slightly less text, but still, text. If we do it well we back it up with a conversation.

Let’s look at an Agile example, using the “As a..” syntax:

“As a buyer, I would like to buy a pair of shorts, so I can go running.”

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