Lean, Agile – Kanban, Scrum

David Anderson at Agile Management has two new blog posts that got me thinking. The first is How to Start with Kanban which lays out how to implement  Kanban for software development in 10 easy steps (I like its simplicity.) The second is Blogosphere Buzz about Lean & Kanban which is a comprehensive review of blog articles coming out of the Florida Lean & Kanban conference. All this Lean Kanban talk got me thinking about what really is the difference between all these terms. My conclusion in summary is: Lean … Continue Reading >


Agile Development is so Old Fashioned

The functioning principles of Agile (and process improvement more broadly) can be found in lean manufacturing and six sigma. These concepts date back to just after World War II and include error proofing, eliminating waste, creating flow, adding customer value, and empowering workers. If you are interested in deeper understanding I suggest reading the above links and: 14 principles of the Toyota Way 2 pillars of the Toyota Production System (Just-in-time and smart automation) 5S methodology Total Quality Management Deming’s 14 points While more comprehensive, notice how similar these ideas are to … Continue Reading >


Agile Development on Wikipedia

The great thing about Wikipedia is that you can make it say anything you want (at least for awhile.) So, I did it. Their definition of Agile Development now matches mine. As I’ve commented before, given the reach of this page, the content on it was disappointing. I gave the page a pretty good scrub. Please check my work. Leave a comment here if you see anything you object to, or edit the page yourself.


Development Kanban

I was recently reviewing a presentation from David Anderson on Kanban from Agile 2007. I love some of his ideas on sizing work, especially in separating work in process (WIP/story point) management from the release cycle. He summarizes his approach in 4 bullet points for success: Focus on Quality (fourth law of development) Reduce or Limit Work in Progress (what’s wrong with pushing) Balance Demand against Throughput (first law of development) Prioritize I think these simple statements help focus on how the principles of lean six sigma guide success. They … Continue Reading >


Defining Agile Development (continued)

As I prepared to discuss Agile with a client recently, I found that I was missing an important element of the definition in my last post. Here is what we settled on: Agile is: A project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation A leadership philosophy that encourages team work, self-organization and accountability A set of engineering best practices that allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software A business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals


Defining Agile Development (part 2)

In my first post, I expressed my disappointment with the Agile software development definition on Wikipedia. In this post, I’ll try to work to a concise working definition of Agile. UPDATE: Also see my refinement to this Agile Development definition. In my quest for a brief definition of Agile software development, I’ve tried to a number of sources. I’ve already discussed the limitations of the definition on Wikipedia. On Britannica, I found no entry. So, let’s start with a dictionary definition of agile: 1. quick and well-coordinated in movement; lithe     … Continue Reading >


Defining ‘Agile Software Development’ on Wikipedia

I started another post and got stuck on this Wikipedia definition. The great insight normally found on Wikipedia, in this case, has left me disappointed: Agile Software Development: refers to a group of software development methodologies that promote development iterations, open collaboration, and adaptability throughout the life-cycle of the project. Are these the three bullet points what we should highlight for Agile: Iterations, Open Collaboration and Adaptability?  I think they are all critical, but do they cover the fundamentals? This definition has actually improved greatly over the last couple months. In … Continue Reading >


Becoming Agile Without Help?

I was recently asked how successful can organizations be in transitioning to agile on their own. My immediate response was to evoke the response from a team of panelist. When asked what is the most important thing they did to be successful in their transition, four panelists from across industries and organizational sizes all said essentially, “Getting some good help.”  I’ve been pondering this question for the last couple days. I’m sure it is possible to self-transition, but I’ve never seen it done. I’ve seen new teams start out promoting agile, … Continue Reading >


Measuring Outputs Expanded

I talked at a high level in my Measure Outputs post about the types of measures that are useful. That post stated broadly that input measures do little to help improve, control or predict performance. In this post, I will expand on that concept to cover in more depth what types of measures focus on output and help drive process improvement. Perhaps the best known framework for creating measures is the balanced score card. This sets up categories of metrics that support an organizations strategies and vision. From the Balanced … Continue Reading >


Why Sign on the Dotted Line

Consulting organizations often require signoff on deliverables to ensure that the client acknowledges that contractual obligations are met. Across organizational lines, these signatures, serve mostly a legal purpose. I often wondered about the use of signoff on deliverables inside of an organization where there is no external relationship. I’ve seen some development shops average as many as 15 or 20 of these sign-offs a day. The intent of getting signatures on product deliverables, of course, is to ensure that the proper attention was given to the creation of the product. … Continue Reading >