Project Management

Manifesting Business Agility

This blog concerns itself with organizations moving to business agility—the quick realization of value predictably and sustainably, and with high quality. It includes all aspects of this—from the business stakeholders through ops and support. Topics will be far-reaching but will mostly discuss FLEX, Flow, Lean-Thinking, Lean-Management, Theory of Constraints, Systems Thinking, Test-First and Agile.

About this Blog


Recent Posts

Using Disciplined Agile Insights to Create a Quick Start for Effective Team Agility

Start with Why

How to eliminate your ScrumBut’s with Disicplined Agile

In defense of root cause analysis

How Disciplined Agile Resolves the Dilemma of Enabling Teams to Self-Organize While Having Consistency Across the Org

Disciplined Agile FLEX Engagement Pre-Planning

The DA FLEX Engagement Pre-planning takes several factors into account to provide a DA Value Stream Consultant a suggested improvement backlog. The core factors used are:

  1. Assessment for the three dozen potential improvement items in the full playbook which is used to identifying candidates for improvement
  2. The scope of what can be worked on based on the sponsorship level
  3. The order in which the improvements should be attempted based based on the theories of Flow and ToC. Identify those items which can be deferred
  4. Limit the backlog to those items that the company is ready for and are unlikely to resist
  5. A list of options for each of the suggested improvement actions

The DA FLEX Engagement Pre-Planning not only provides a suggested playbook, it allows for overrides to enable further customization.

While no pre-planning checklist is perfect, consider how other systems don’t even attempt this and provide little customization in objectives. Few options for each of these objectives are given.

Providing few choices does not make things simpler, it makes things not fit for purpose.

Posted on: January 31, 2021 12:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Why You Should Add Explicit Workflow to Scrum

In ’09, after Kanban had its coming out party at the Miami Lean-Kanban Conf, Ken Schwaber blasted the “explicit workflow” concept of Kanban on the misguided thinking that people would follow this explicit workflow

Explicit means “stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt"

Implicit means “implied though not plainly expressed”

There should be no inference that explicit means hard to change or something to follow. It just means that we’ve stated what we think the best way of working is. It's changed with just another explicit statement

Part of an explicit workflow can also have an out like – “except when” or “let someone know when you don't do it, if there's a better way"

The agreements they represent are a reflection of what the team believes is the best way of working, not something to be followed

The idea that explicit means hard to change or to be followed is one of the great misunderstandings of Lean/KB still in the Scrum community. A common understanding of how people are working improves collaboration and discovering better ways of working. W/o explicit workflow it gets hard to make improvements since no one is sure what is being done. 

For more, read Why DA FLEX Suggests Having Explicit Workflow and Agreements 

Posted on: January 26, 2021 09:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Are you describing your approach or talking to their “listening”?

I was introduced to the term "one's listening" by Dr Fernando Flores in the 80s. This “listening” is what’s going on in a person’s head when they listen or read. You’re experiencing this now, likely asking yourself “what the hell is he talking about?” That’s what I’m referring to as “your listening.”

Words, in themselves, don’t have meaning. Rather they mean what the receiver gets evoked in their head. This is why communication is so fraught with mis-understanding. If people have different understandings when one person says something another person may very well hear something else (not in their ears but in their head).

This is why it is so important to attend to someone’s listening. When we've described certain concepts repeatedly, we can even anticipate what this listening will be based on past conversations. And, of course, we can ask. When writing or creating training materials, however, it is important to make a decision about what the likely listening for your audience will be.

Explanations that take this listening into account will be better than just an explanation of what you are trying to describe.

Posted on: January 22, 2021 07:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Considering the pace for adoption

One of many "emperor has no clothes" factors in the Agile world is that our most popular methods don't suggest an Agile manner of adoption. Scrum's "just do it" & SAFe's "all in all the way" both have you just jump to their solution w/neither a transition path nor any real insights on how to do it

There are two significant challenges to this. The first is the lack of transition to the practices can cause confusion and resistance. For example if you don't have cross-functional teams or ARTs, it may take a few steps to get there. Without guidance, teams and organizations may never get to where they need to be. 

More significant, however, is the mental aspect of making the adoption, which is basically ignored. This is exacerbated by the large # of adoptions where people are told to do Scrum or SAFe. In the same way there is no one size fits all solution, there is no one size fits all adoption path.

Here are some factors to consider:
1) perceived safety
2) level of siloing present
3) bonus programs that encourage people to expand their # of direct reports
4) degree of micro-management
5) level of respect by managers for their people
6) pressure from the C-suite to get things done
7) degree of overwork
8) level of technical debt


Posted on: January 19, 2021 08:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The lack of Systemic and Holistic Thinking in Agile

Someone posted this:

I Didn't Get The Memo....

Did anyone receive a memo that calls for the suspension of #systemic or #holisticthinking, where outcomes and actions in our system are now independent of other outcomes and actions?
This was my response

It didn't come in the form of a memo, it comes in the form of describing frameworks in a way that is not holistic and systems thinking oriented. This perspective ends up having people not taking an holistic or systems thinking view.

Frameworks by their nature - focus on
some parts. Plus, most focus on the team and then how to expand it. An holistic
approach would focus on the entire organization and while including how the
teams fit in (see Challenging the Assumption That One Must Get Teams to Work

Also, a focus on the framework and not the work itself leads to non-systemic thinking. See:

In a nutshell from Emerson – “what you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say”


I loved this response as well: Probably you don't need a memo for the suspension of something that almost never existed.

Posted on: January 18, 2021 04:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."

- Winston Churchill