Readings Preparing for LeSS Adoption

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Who's Asking?

Welcome to learning more about your system and you creating something appropriate for your context!

For background, I'm Craig Larman, the creator (along with my friend and colleague Bas Vodde) of Scaling Lean & Agile Development, the author of the 2 books on Scaling Lean & Agile, served as the lead of Lean Software Development at Xerox for several years, and have focused the last decade on helping organizations succeed with Scaling Lean & Agile, especially in the Financial Services domain, at UBS, BAML, JPM, and other clients. Broadly, I'm trying to reduce suffering in development ;) — for customers, your economics, and developers. There's no good reason that development can't be successful, useful, and fun.

Why Read and Learn This?

Before I start to work with a management team that is interested in introducing Scaling Lean & Agile Development (and LeSS — Lean or Large Scaled Scrum), and before we meet together for a 2-day "informed consent" workshop, these are the pre-readings I urge all participants to study before we start.

Why? Real lean thinking and agile (which involves systems thinking) adoption are the exact opposite of the "copying without knowledge" and "install this solution and you will be successful" silver-bullet sales pitches associated with fads and consulting-company "grand solutions." Rather, real lean thinking and agile systems thinking involve real thinking ;)

That is, that people (especially including the senior managers) take the time to deeply grasp (1) the nature of their system, (2) the root causes of its issues, (3) the complexities of its system dynamics, (4) the deeper concepts of Scaling Lean & Agile Development, with a focus on why not what, and only then (5) create a situationally-appropriate organizational design experiment based on these ideas and principles — instead of the typical "don't think, just adopt our magical solution" sales pitch.

This approach, Scaling Lean & Agile Development, is not offering a prescribed checklist of so-called "best practices." Is that a problem? Such checklists sound seductively simple and appealing and easy, but they inhibit (1) contextual solutions, (2) thinking and understanding deeply, (3) a learning organization, and (4) a continuous improvement culture. They promote conformance over learning.

Adoption Process

I recommend you do not simply decide to adopt Scaling Lean & Agile Development. Rather, I recommend that you take the time to carefully learn, apply sober reflection, and then make an informed consent decision to try a non-trivial experiment — or not. Therefore, I recommend that the starting process is this:

1. Carefully study these pre-readings.

2. Discuss them amongst yourselves.

3. Participate in a 2-day "Informed Consent" workshop with me, where I will help you learn more in depth, explore your system with you, and answer all your questions about the implications and next steps.

4. After I leave, you together take a careful and considered decision to consent to the next step, or decide to decline continuing.

5. If your group decides with careful informed consent to go forward with an experiment, then I will help you in the next major phases: (1) Scaling Lean & Agile Preparation, and (2) Scaling Lean & Agile Sprint-1 (or a variant as appropriate)

The Preparation Readings to Learn From

1. HBR: Six Myths of Product Development

2. The following chapters from our book Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools:

Ch 2. Systems Thinking 
Ch 3. Lean Thinking 
Ch 4. Queuing Theory 
Ch 5. False Dichotomies
Ch 6. Be Agile 
Ch 7. Feature Teams  
Ch 8. Teams

3. The following chapters from the book The Fifth Discipline:

Ch 1. Give Me a Lever Long Enough
Ch 2. Does Your Organization Have a Learning Disability?
Ch 3. Prisoners of the System, or Prisoners of our own Thinking?
Ch 4. The Laws of the Fifth Discipline
Ch 9. Personal Mastery
Ch 10. Mental Models