Lean & Kanban Conferences – Looking back and looking forwards

Its a month now since the Lean & Kanban Conference in Miami and I haven’t had chance to blog about it. There’s probably not much I can add that hasn’t been said elsewhere already. It was an incredible week; stimulating, inspiring, focussed, energising. I learned a lot, and made and met old and new friends. For those who couldn’t make it, the presentations are available for download, and the proceedings book is available to buy. All profits from the proceedings will go towards the formation of the Lean Software and Systems Consortium.

Plans for the equivalent event in London are taking shape nicely. Registration is now open and we have had 40 registrations in the first week so it looks like demand will be high – book early to avoid disappointment! We have a fantastic line-up of speakers confirmed, and the program has now been published. The vision was to create an event which generates discussion and debate with a format that is hopefully a little different from the norm. The mix of presenter talks with interviews is intended to stir up some debate, and the Masterclasses are an opportunity to discuss ideas more interactively with the speakers and fellow attendees – more of a roundtable than a teaching session.

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Zurich Lean Agile Scrum Slides

I have posted my slides for the talk I did at the Zurich Lean Agile Scrum event on my downloads page. Inspired by the quality of some of the “Zen” presentations at the Lean & Kanban Conference in Miami, I created a new deck, and included some more slides on some Lean history. I have added some notes to the slides so I hope they have some use for those that weren’t in the room!

The conference closed with a speakers panel, including Ken Schwaber, when the question of “Is Kanban an alternative to Scrum” was asked! Fortunately Ken and I are still friends after the discussion, and the general consensus was that regardless of what we do and what we call it, the primary focus should be on doing the right thing.

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Anxiety or Boredom Driven Process Improvement?

At the SPA conference recently, Joseph Pelrine talked about “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihalyi Czikszentmihalyi. The ideas behind this struck a chord with me as a way of describing something I originally said when discussing whether kanban is only suitable for mature teams. That is that rather than focusing on being Agile which may (and should) lead to being successful, Kanban focuses on becoming successful, which may lead to being Agile.

Mihalyi Czikszentmihalyi describes the state of Flow as having a balance between ability, and the skills required for a piece of work. If some work requires more skill than a person has ability, then they are in a state of Anxiety. If a person has more ability than the skills required for a some work then they are in a state of Boredom. Applying this to Process Improvement, we want to move teams up the Flow Zone so that skills required and ability increase equally.

Flow1

Increasing Skills and Ability equally at the same time is unlikely, so in practice there are two routes to move up the Flow Zone. The first is what I am dubbing “Anxiety Driven Process Improvement”. Move a team into a state of Anxiety such that they need to improve their skills to cope. I assert that this is the approach that makes time-box based method so effective. Time-boxing forces teams into a place where they need to improve their skills in order to deliver working software every few weeks. Many teams push back, and a common approach to this is to make the time-box shorter to emphasis the point! The other route is to do “Boredom Driven Process Improvement”.  Highlight to the teams where they need to improve their ability, and allow and support them in doing so such that they are able to taken on work requiring more skill. I further assert that this is the approach that kanban systems take. Visualising queues and work in progress in order expose the bottleneck where the ability needs improving.

Flow2

This might sound like I am suggesting the time-boxing and kanban are mutually exclusive approaches. That isn’t the case – I have already said that! Instead, I just find it an interesting angle to look at a different dynamic between two approaches.

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Announcing the Formation of the Lean Software & Systems Consortium

I’m incredibly honoured and excited to have been able to be a founding member of the Lean Software & Systems Consortium which was announced today at the Lean & Kanban Conference in Miami. I hope that this is a significant venture which will have a major impact on the software development industry.  Further information can be found in the press release, which I have copied below.

Announcing the Formation of the Lean Software & Systems Consortium

Consortium to Promote Lean Software & Systems Thinking For Software Intensive Enterprises

SEATTLE, WA., May 6, 2009 / PRNewswire. The Lean Software & Systems Consortium (LeanSSC) was formed today to assist enterprises that depend on software – from start-ups to those that build complex, software intensive products, systems & services – with the application of Lean Thinking throughout the enterprise.

LeanSSC is a global, non-profit organization whose mission is to promote professionalism and create awareness of lean science and associated competencies by creating and promoting a body of knowledge and an associated certification program. This body of knowledge will be organized around three elements of Lean Thinking – lean science, lean management and lean education.

LeanSSC will assist organizations in applying Lean Thinking to reliably deliver business value, adapt to changing market conditions, manage risk, improve predictability, increase flexibility and reduce variability – with the clear goal of substantively increasing the ROI of their software investment.

Founding member David Anderson noted, “It has been recognized for over 30 years that the role of management is the most significant leverage point on the economic performance of organizations that depend on software. During this period, management practices have not kept pace with innovations in software and systems development processes. The LeanSSC will bring Lean Thinking to bear on the organizational problem of creating software economically by providing a framework for better decision making and policy setting at all levels of the enterprise. We believe Lean Thinking adds value not only to individual contribution such as development, testing and analysis, but also to all levels of management.”

Other founding members also commented on the formation of the consortium:

“Lean Thinking brings an organizational solution to an organizational problem. I look forward to the LeanSSC making a substantial contribution to the industry.” – Dean Leffingwell

“The LeanSSC will help create a foundation of knowledge and foster a Lean Thinking paradigm shift that will greatly increase professionalism and improve outcomes in the software development industry.” – Alan Shalloway

“Enterprises building systems of significant scope have become increasingly lean, but not yet been able to engage its software development in this transformation. The LeanSSC provides the first practical mechanism to integrate software development into the lean enterprise.”
– James Sutton

About Lean Software & Systems Consortium

Based in Washington, USA, LeanSSC is non-profit consortium comprised of corporate members, academic institutions, and industry leaders who share the belief that understanding and application of the science of lean will be of great benefit to software intensive industries. LeanSSC’s mission is to promote professionalism and create awareness of lean science and associated competencies by creating and promoting a body of knowledge and an associated certification program.

The consortium is committed to community, communication and education and will be hosting Lean Software & Systems Conferences in Atlanta, GA and Europe in 2010.

Founding members of the consortium include David Anderson–David J. Anderson Associates, Alan Shalloway and Alan Chedalawada–Net Objectives, Dean Leffingwell–Leffingwell, LLC., Don Reinertsen–Reinertsen & Associates, Karl Scotland–EMC Consulting, Rob Hathaway–IndigoBlue, James Sutton–Lockheed Martin, Mike Cottmeyer–VersionOne, Peter Middleton–Queens University @ Belfast.

Information on the consortium will soon be available at www.LeanSSC.org. For further information, contact David Anderson at dja@agilemanagement.net.

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