Everyday Kanban

Discussing Management, Teams, Agile, Lean, Kanban & more

Month: May 2013

Can you afford not to limit work in progress?

Do your stand-ups sound something like this?

Joe Developer: I started on that script, worked on it for a while and then I switched over to that web app i’ve been working on for the last few days. I got blocked on that so I started up that template they’re waiting on.

Jane Developer: I worked on that UI component library but then got pulled into a fire drill about something the PM needed right then. Today I’m going to finish the fire drill item, work on a defect someone asked me if I could sneak in really quick (its only 1hr of work) and then I’ll get back to the UI component.

… [repeat, repeat, repeat]…

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Theory 101: Thinking Processes of TOC

The book “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt took me by surprise. I had forgotten by the time I got around to listening to the audiobook that it was a novel. I just knew I needed to read Goldratt and was starting with his first book. Despite its initial 90’s HR film feel, it was compelling and walked me through the trials and tribulations, both professional and personal, of an plant manager whose plant was near ruin. I listened as he applied Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints and turned his plant around. Beyond that, it teaches you to drill down to the actual goal. We often forget what our original goal is by the time we get mired down in the minutia. We forget that the metrics aren’t the point. What, your burndown sucks right now? Well, have you strayed from your goal? Are you delivering the most value possible to your company? That’s the goal. The metric may not always give you the true health of your march towards the goal. So enlightening. It is definitely a must read (or listen!)

Why use the Theory of Constraints?

I am going to summarize Goldratt’s Brief Introduction to TOC. Who better than to learn from than the master himself? Goldratt states that in general, the constraint of an organization is that it is “structured, measured, and managed in parts, rather than as a whole.” Because of that constraint, he states,  organizations perform far below their potential. If you remove the conditions enforcing the constraint then you experience significant and sustainable improvement in all of the problem areas for the organization. The reason most organizations don’t recognize and/or address the real constraint is that they are too busy with the demands of the present to begin fixing the future or that they are afraid of the risk of the change.

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Diagnosis Manager – Scraped skin and broken bones

Part 1 of the Diagnosis Manager series contemplating common management ailments suffered by teams. No teams or managers were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

I have been thinking quite a lot recently about how managers can become impediments to progress, not to mention improvement. The discussion about this is increasing exponentially by the day in Agile and Lean circles, if not others. I am a manager of a development team and have 8 people that I value and whom I want to see do great things while being happy doing them. So, the concept that I might unknowingly be getting in the way of that is troubling and very nearly led to some sort of crisis of purpose for me. I started some conversations in the community and did a good bit of reflection – though still not nearly enough. What I noticed as I started writing down my initial thoughts on managers as impediments is that those thoughts came back to one or two root concepts.

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