Agile & Scrum Coaching: Delivered in CT, MA, RI, NY City and the greater New England area.
If you are considering adopting some Agile ideas in your company, you need to bring in an experienced and perceptive expert guide, to help you. This is because adopting Agile is in fact “culture change”, and culture change is HARD.
You need a mentor. You need a coach. You need a TRUSTED ADVISOR. The main reason is simple. Aspects of your current company culture are usually your main impediment to adopting Agile. You need an expert with eyes and ears that are NOT part of your culture, to NOTICE what is going on INSIDE your culture.
Let New Technology Solutions, led by Dan Mezick, be your trusted adviser.
New Technology Solutions, Inc. provides actionable, expert agile guidance to organizations in the greater New England area. We also offer extraordinary training in Agile and Scrum.
- Experts in implementing Lean, Agile and Scrum ideas.
- An experienced advisor to C-level executives on effective Agile change.
- An experienced Agile Coach and management advisor.
If you REALLY want to successfully adopt Agile ideas in your company, you want New Technology Solutions.
Quick Agile Primer
You are probably pondering how to proceed with agile ideas in your company. You probably have questions about interrelated terms such as Lean, Agile, Kanban, Scrum, and so on. Here is a quick primer.
Agile is an umbrella-term for a set of principles and associated practices for developing complex products, usually software, FAST.
Agile is easier to implement when the company is small, under about 500 employees. Organizations of that size usually have a small IT department, but that is not the reason. The reason is that smaller organizations must stay entrepreneurial in culture and execution to survive. This entrepreneurial cultural norm is highly empirical in approach, and therefore conducive to Agile implementations.
This is totally true of small under-100 person firms, and definitely true up to about 150 employees. An entrepreneurial culture helps Agile implementations take root. This is because Agile methods and entrepreneurial methods both employ empiricism to relentlessly focus and refocus on the things that matter.
If your company was once empirical– and highly adaptive. Is that still true today?
Most Agile adoptions usually include some strong interest in Scrum. The empirical Scrum framework approach focuses on iterative and adaptive learning and strongly discourages predictions. The Scrum approach actually tunes cognition and attention during software projects with this empirical, non-predictive approach.
Scrum is the predominant process management approach for Agile teams. To get it right, implementing Scrum usually requires some adept Scrum coaching. The Scrum ground rules and associated group norms are an essential part of why Scrum works. A good Scrum coach can guide you towards effective execution of these ground rules and team cultural norms. This leads to success with your Agile implementation.
The Scrum framework works by relentlessly focusing and RE-focusing attention on the things that matter most. This emphasis on focusing attention is a hallmark of the Scrum framework and helps to manage the project towards productivity and away from waste.
Dan is the first to write on Scrum’s role as an attention manager/attention harness. Dan’s early writing on the link between the phenomenon of Inattentional Blindness and Scrum advances Scrum by explaining in part how it actually works. Scrum works by making it almost impossible to get distracted during a software development project.
Scrum implementations that are true to the Scrum design (3 roles, 3 ceremonies, 3 artifacts, and now 3 best practices) can create an environment for hyperproductive teams to form and blossom. The primary task that Scrum executes on is the management of team-level attention and team-level cognition. As such, Scrum is a fascinating framework for teams.
Scrum coaching and Agile coaching from New Technology Solutions is set up to help you focus on what matters most in your Agile implementation. We focus you on empirical process, managing group and team attention, and execution. These goals are not as easy to accomplish as you may first estimate.
Our approach is to help you to identify and draw attention to the critical success factors that are necessary for a truly successful Scrum implementation.
Dan teaching on the future of agile/Scrum and Lean software development.
Lean is a term coined in the 1990’s book THE MACHINE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD. That book described Toyota’s way of running things. This is also known as the THE TOYOTA WAY or THE 14 PRINCIPLES.
Lean is best described as a set of principles for guiding action. While Lean principles look good on paper, they are very difficult to execute on. Again the main impediment is CULTURE. If Lean was simple to execute on, Toyota would have no advantage as everyone would simply copy them.
How does Toyota pull off ‘Lean’ while others cannot? What is the ‘secret sauce’? The answer to this all-important question is part of what New Technology Solutions is all about. Very few so-called experts can answer this question. New Technology Solutions can.
Many so-called Lean/Agile ‘experts’ suggest adopting Lean at the enterprise level…as if it is so simple. Can ANY company “go Lean” ? Well, yes and no. For example, Scrum can be described as “Lean in the small”. The core values of Scrum (Respect, Openness, Commitment, Courage and Focus) are 100% in alignment with Lean.
If you cannot do Scrum well on one or more teams, you have ‘zero chance’ of adopting Lean at the enterprise level. Why? Because Scrum is “Lean in the small”. If your organization cannot support some basic Lean ideas found inside the Scrum framework, how is your company able to even consider Lean ideas for the entire enterprise? It is MISGUIDED to attempt any kind of Lean adoption without small steps in the right direction that prove your organizational (read: “cultural”) readiness.
Kanban means ‘visual card’ or ‘visual board’ or ‘visual sign’. It is a rows-and-columns arrangement where the work content, process and flow are manifested in physical space on the Kanban board.
The primary unit of measure in Kanban is the ‘work item’. There are no iterations in a Kanban system. Instead, the focus is on individual ‘work items’. In a Kanban system, you ideally work on ONE thing at a time and work-in-process is intentionally minimized. The primary purpose of this is to increase the flow of work and to increase the quality of ‘done’ items.
Manifesting plans in physical space, usually through writing, is a timeless success concept. Ask any life coach, or motivational speaker or successful person. ‘Seeing is believing’. Kanban leverages this idea via the ‘visual board’. Kanban adds workflow features that minimize waste and maximize production. Scrum uses a ‘Task Board’ that is very similar to a Kanban board. Kanban is an advanced and more sophisticated use of the Task Board.
The Boundary for Work
So if Scrum uses a Task Board, what is the difference between Scrum and Kanban? The primary difference is in the containing boundaries of the work. Work must be contained or “bounded” to be understood. You cannot work on a boundary-less work item. The boundary CONTAINS the work.
In Scrum , the primary boundary of work is the time-box or Sprint. This is a time boundary. In Kanban, the primary boundary is the definition of the work item itself. Management defines the work in “small batches” and places it on a queue. The team works on one small batch at a time, in that queue.
However, in Kanban the container for work is the Work Item. The Kanban team has no time-box container for the work, and no associated time-box rules such as “no interruptions inside the time-box”. Kanban systems allow new priorities to emerge. Event-driven, higher-priority items can change what the team works on at any time. It is important to note that this is all discussed in advance when using Kanban systems. “Expedited items” are a special type of work.
In Scrum, the Sprint time-boundary or “time box” is the container for work while in Kanban, the small-batch work item definition is the container for work.
Attention, Attention, Attention
Note that Scrum and Kanban are both actively managing ATTENTION of the team. Scrum’s time-boxed iterations and Daily Scrum meeting are both designed to increase focus and attention. Kanban’s small batches, clear work definitions and visual display of “work” and “process status” do the same thing. Agile methods always have you paying explicit attention. Be ready to do this when you adopt Kanban or Scrum.
Kanban, Lean, Scrum and genuine Agile ideas are in fact all very interrelated. Kanban, Lean and Scrum can all be used together. Let Dan Mezick and New Technology Solutions show you how to fully understand and leverage these innovative techniques to optimize your productivity, quality and work-flow.
Dan Mezick is active in developing Agile ideas at the national level.
Contact us about expert Coaching delivered in CT, MA, RI, NY City and the greater New England area.
Read more about our essential Agile and Scrum Training offering. Email or phone us with your detailed questions and to explore Lean, Kanban, Scrum coaching, Agile coaching, Agile training and Scrum project management with us.