Values, values, values

Actual values are the behavior and skills that are valued within the ‘fellowship’. The fellowship being the group of people pursuing some—noble—goal.

The Scrum Guide from 2016 pulls the Scrum values back into its center. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland call it the heart of Scrum.

The agile and lean frameworks, methods, and practices—like XP, Scrum and the Kanban Method—each have their own set of values. The total set counts 17(!) unique values:

  1. simplicity;
  2. communication;
  3. feedback;
  4. focus;
  5. courage (2×)
  6. openness;
  7. commitment;
  8. respect (3×);
  9. agreement;
  10. balance;
  11. collaboration;
  12. customer focus;
  13. flow;
  14. leadership;
  15. respect;
  16. transparency; and
  17. understanding.

The long list of values reminds me of a joke that emerged during the UNIX standardization battles:

The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

How can you live all those values? Which one do you pick? Which value do you focus on?

Perhaps picking your 3–5 top values, share them with your fellowship, and then dot vote the result to distill 3–5 fellowship values: behavior and skills that are valued by most or all.

Perhaps gauging them on how they contribute to the Fantastic Five may help:

  1. Abundance—The byproducts of already having abundance rather than how much.
  2. Livelihood—The byproducts of doing, rather than what you will do.
  3. Health—All that your fantastic health makes possible.
  4. Relationships—The results of having a new or an improved relationship rather than who.
  5. Appearance—The effects of being pleased with yourself rather than diets, time lines, and body weight.

Anyway, what do you think?

Improvement Board

Henrik Kniberg says that Squads at Spotify are using Big Visible Improvement Boards that focus on one to three Actionable Accelerators like:

  • “What is blocking us?”

Also, the board shows a Definition of Awesome that includes things like:

  • Really finishing stuff.
  • Easily ramping up new team members.
  • No recurring tasks or bugs.

Continue reading “Improvement Board”



  • Goldilocks is an interesting technique and basically doing the opposite of estimating: You shape the work into the desired sizes.
    Vote each item into one of three piles: “Too Big”, “Just Right”, and “Too Small”.
  • Split any “Too Big” items into “Just Right”-sized ones.
  • Group any “Too Small” items together into “Just Right”.

The Goldilocks Principle applied to sorting stories reminds of potato grading machines that sort potatoes into different sizes.

Enjoy the flow.



Source: InfoQ » Q&A on Kanban in Action.

Keep the joint running

Picture tweeted by David J. Anderson made me look it up. I like it.

#There are no best practices, only practices that fit best.
#To optimize the whole you must sub-optimize the parts.
#Bad metrics are worse than no metrics.
#Relationships precede process.
#Relationships outlive transactions.
#Don’t confuse documentation with reality.
#Before you can be strategic you have to be competent.
#Big solutions that work start as small solutions that work.
#Customers are external. Internal customers aren’t.
#Don’t run IT as a business, run it in a business like way.
#There are no IT projects.
#Digest with intestines, think with brain.
#Every employee is irreplaceable.

[ Keep the Joint Running—A Manifesto for 21st Century Information Technology]

Success profile


Fused [ Agile Management » David J. Anderson » Lean Risk Management—Options, Liquidity & Hedging Risk using Kanban Systems] (ppt) and [ LKCE12 » David J. Anderson » Liquidity in Flow] (video) on a single en|big visible chart (A2-sized).

*David uses ‘risk profiles’ to find out what to pull next. If success + risk = 1 you can invert a ‘risk profile’ into a ‘”’success profile”’’ if you will.
*Chart uses a ”’polar chart”’ rather than a radar chart.

#Create success profile on an index card for every option you want to execute soon.
#Put it into corresponding swim lane, honoring any en|work in progress limit.

Agile Organization

The 7th Key Principle of Lean Software Development is ”’Optimize the whole”’.

The burning question is, how to boost collective evolutionary power from a participative, co-creative agile organizational point of view? Large Scale Intervention (LSI) provides principles, patterns and practices to just this? LSI is also known as ”’Whole Systems Change”’.

Hope you enjoy a short ”’slide deck”’ on Agile Organization (PDF, 1.3 MB).

“Ontwikkelen moet je meemaken.”

Firefight no more

Highlights from ”Past the Tipping Point: The Persistence of Firefighting in Product Development” by Nelson Repenning, Paulo Gonçalves, and Laura Black.

Putting out fires is not improvement. Finding a point out of control, finding the special cause and removing it, is only putting the process back to where it was in the first place. It is not improvement of the process.

—W Edwards Deming

Unplanned allocation of resources to fix problems can switch the entire company to epidemical firefighting and organizational pathology. Even a temporary increase in workload can initiate the firefighting dynamic and cause a permanent decline in system performance and health.

*snaps into place when pushed beyond the tipping point or threshold
*drives out disciplined and more structured (development) processes, becoming the (development) process instead
*can significantly degrade an organization’s ability to create high quality products in a stable, predictable, sustainable and resilient way
*is a self-reinforcing syndrome with a tipping point, and is, therefore, fragile
*is hard to recognize (its symptoms), causing corrective action to be taken too late
*comes very naturally

Likely goals:
*be an innovative, competitive, stable, predictable, sustainable and resilient organization;
*stay clear of the tipping point when you are on its productive and innovative side;
*get close to the tipping point a.s.a.p. when you are in firefighting mode, and then nimbly nudge it over;

To avoid firefighting to become a company-wide disease:
*Discourage, ignore or penalize heroism and heroic behavior.
*Use a boom buffer with a clear policy and managerial impact when excepted.
*Keep current tools and technology, avoiding time needed to invest in learning them that (temporary) lowers productivity
*Have a laser focus on top quality for product, process and people as lower quality will push the organization into the death spiral of declining competitiveness, reduce revenue and future innovation.
*Do root cause analysis and resolution of the top problems. Just postponing problematic projects does not prevent the spreading of firefighting, it just pushes them downstream to bite you next year, and probably harder.
*Perform aggregate resource planning to prevent fires.
*Reduce the number of parallel products or projects—so bring focus.
*Avoid full utilization of human assets. Cherish slack resources as a buffer against uncertainties (also see boom buffer).
*Aggressively cancel failing projects early.
*Revisit the product plan instead of trying to catch up.
*Do not rent or steal people from or lend people to other parts of the organization as it might start a fire.
*Reduce workload effectively to stabilize the system, e.g. by skipping a model year altogether.
*Do fewer projects and cancel more.
*Put a strict (Work In Progress or WIP) limit on many or all parts of the value stream, and use those to maximize flow.
*Undercommit and overperform.
*Uphold a strict policy of only accepting finished, done work. Mercilessly reject any unfinished work and loose ends.
*Perform thorough up-front work. Make policies and admission criteria to pull something into the next step crystal clear. This will:
**increase the likelihood that the item will get done in time;
**reduce or avoid the need to cancel it later;
**make owners face strong incentives to invest in the early phase activities and develop clever ways to demonstrate the efficacy of a proposed product far in advance of its detailed design.

All this resonates with agile, scrum, lean, and kanban.

Joseph Perline’s 3 Rules

Joseph Perline’s 3 Rules:
#We don’t make mistakes, we learn.
#Whoever carries the risk, decides.
#If it’s not fun, you’re doing something wrong.