Tag Archives: lean

Proof Agile Doesn’t Work

canstock12611275-proof-blueWhilst recently attending a networking event, I was asked what I do, to which I replied I’m an Agile & Lean consultant.

Being this was not a software development related event, my response was met by blank faces; until one of the group I was speaking to (who I’ll call ‘John’ for the purpose of this post) commented that “agile is a project management methodology used in software development.”

Feeling this was not the time to be pedantic, I agreed that agiles’ roots can be traced back to software development – adding that agility has since become a strategic approach for cutting costs, getting an earlier return on investment and gaining a competitive advantage, widely used across many industries.

John then asked if we could catch up later to talk ‘agile’ as his organisation was considering adopting it.

“Sure” I said, “Let’s do that.”

Why Stretched Teams do “Scrumban”

15842087_sA few years ago Corey Ladas wrote an article about an Agile approach he called “Scrumban”. As the name suggests, this is a variant of Scrum with certain Lean-Kanban characteristics. What he proposed was a graduation of Scrum teams to leaner and more pull-based ways of working than Scrum itself allows.

Whereas Scrum will “batch” work up into Sprint Backlogs and potentially releasable increments, a leaner Scrumban approach will seek to minimize the batching of work as far as possible. Each work item will be processed in response to a clear signal for demand, and not because it has been planned into a Sprint backlog. In strictly Lean terms, holding on to such inventory is a form of waste.

What Corey proposed was the gradual facilitation of leaner practices in Scrum. He sought “…to incrementally enhance Scrum with more and more pull-like features until all that remains of the original process is vestigial scaffolding”. For example, he argued that “if your iteration backlog contains 20 work items, then that’s still about 19 more than it needs to be in a pull system”.

The result was an agile approach which makes a Leaner way of working an end in itself. Since then though, Scrum-Kanban hybrids have taken off in ways that were perhaps not entirely foreseeable at the time when Scrumban was floated.

Microsoft’s Quality Assurance and Agile Transition Strategies

In today’s highly competitive environment high quality is no longer an optional consideration – it’s a ‘must’. Especially since quality is no longer determined only by what we are developing, but also by user’s constantly evolving expectations. In this video keynote speaker and Microsoft Bing Program Manager, Ken Johnston, reveals Microsoft’s quality assurance and agile transition strategies.

(This interview was originally recorded at the Agile Development Conference and Better Software Conference West in Las Vegas. For more information on the conferences, please visit: http://www.sqe.com/conferences/)