Sep 2, 2012

First Ever PMI-ACP training in Mexico

I was about to blog about this when I received email from PMI-SFBAC so I am directing you to their news on this instead of wasting time writing about the same.

May 3, 2012

Starting May 2012 Valueinnova LLC (the new name of Shojiki Solutions) will be offering online training. The first courses are:
  • Accredited Kanban Core
  • Lean-Agile  Project Management
  • PMI-ACP exam preparation
The training will be offered in English and in Spanish and at different times to accommodate people's busy schedules. We are very excited about this new offering and look forward to meeting people from all over the planet.

Mar 28, 2012

Lean Kanban University Accredited Kanban Program

Lean Kanban Univeristy Accredited Kanban Program is on. Valueinnova is a Charter Member and Masa K Maeda is an Accredited Kanban Trainer and Coach. Masa is the only one who also speaks Spanish and offers courses in Spain and Latin America in addition to the rest of the world.

To learn more go to

Jan 23, 2012

Kanban for customer portfolio management

My business focuses on lean-agile coaching, consulting and training, not on software development services, and I successfully use Kanban to manage my customer portfolio.

It is untrue that Kanban is only good for software change management work. Many people new to Kanban have this misconception mainly for two reasons. One is because Kanban started in a change management team at Microsoft. The other one is because David J Anderson declared that Kanban is a method for change management in the organization and that statement can be misinterpreted. What David meant with that is Kanban helps you bring positive change to your organization. Although the original Kanban description is around software it is actually context free. There is a very popular book entitled Personal Kanban by Jim Benson that I invite you to consult.

Getting back to the main subject of this blog. I have been using Kanban for years to manage customer-facing and business-facing activities. The customer facing activities Kanban board has one swim lane per customer for easy visualization of the activities with each customer and to avoid making mistakes on which customer a given activity is for.  Each customer has its own backlog, which we make visual as the first column on the board. The other columns are Ready, Execute (doing/done), Customer verification, and Completed columns. The WIPs for each customer are different and in agreement with the customer needs and my resources. The figure shows the electronic board we use. We actually have several boards, one for each country. Advantages of the electronic board are not only the fact that they make remote communication easier but also that it allows us to resort the lanes, which we do as a means to indicate level of priority and activity. That is, a lane (a customer) bubbles up if the activity and priority increases and bubbles down if the activity decreases. That way if we will not be doing any work with a customer for a while its lane is "out of the way" and is still easily available to reuse at a moment's notice. We also count with a swim lane called "other" and we use this for general work that has to do with potential customers when relationship hasn't matured yet to the point of earning a dedicated lane.

Our classes of service are
  • Business task
  • Business appointment
  • Business partner / associate task
  • Fixed delivery date
  • Immediate
Intangible tasks are business-facing and are, therefore, on a separate board.

Masa K Maeda

Jan 19, 2012

Swift Kanban free for non-for-profits

Nice move from Digité, the company behind Swift Kanban. It offers free licensing to non-for-profit organizations and also recently added integration with Jira from Attlasian.
To read the full article click here

Jan 5, 2012

Presentación en para PMI

Presentación en Español sobre Lean y Kanban para PMI

Short video series

I started a Valueinnova video series and will be posting regularly. Subscribe to it and you won't miss them.

Btw, all the videos have English and Spanish versions.

Shojiki Solutions is now Valueinnova

Happy 2012 !

With the new year also came a new name for our company, we are now Valueinnova.

Visit us :-)

Dec 24, 2011

Lean Value Innovation in a little tiny nutshell

Whoa, it is almost the end of the year and it has been a long time since I posted anything on my blog. I know it is no excuse, but I actually spent most of the last half a year outside the US and that made it very difficult for me to pay attention to the blog as much of my time was focused on delivering value to my customers.

There is, however, one very important announcement I want to make. Shojiki Solutions is changing its name to Valueinnova LLC ( effective January 1, 2012. This is actually good news, because the company has been moving forward and now that I have been maturing Lean Value Innovation it makes perfect sense to align the company to what set us apart from the competition.

In a nutshell, Lean Value Innovation is a framework indicating that in order to effectively increase value delivery to customers as well as to our organization it is necessary to take care of for aspects:
  • To improve the way we think and see things through systems thinking. This includes the system of profound knowledge, lean thinking, agile thinking, and creativity.
  • To improve our environment both in the physical sense and the collaborative sense.
  • To adopt methods and tools that facilitate innovation.
  • To fully embrace the notion that the human factor is the most important aspect to consider if you want our organization to be successful.
 I am spending these days writing a book on the subject and hope to get it ready soon.

Cheers and happy holidays to everybody.

Oct 22, 2011

Lean Kanban Central Europe useful links

For those who didn't have the opportunity to attend LKCE11 here's some useful links

Session visual facilitatings

Sessions description and slides

Oct 18, 2011

My presentation al Lean Kanban Central Europe 2011

I will blog comments as soon a I have time to do so (I am still moving around quite a bit between Spain and Germany).

Oct 7, 2011

Oct 4, 2011

High Performance Operations book review

I had the pleasure and honor of receiving an advance copy of Hillel Glazer's book High Performance Operations for review. What follows is my unbiased opinion.

This book is bout an approach to make of compliance an actual competitive advantage through an integration of "cultural/psychological and interpersonal matters, service, and systems engineering". Hillel calls it Process Solutioneering. Hillel's writing style is very enjoyable and engaging.

As the title implies, the book focuses on compliance aspects that have to do with operations. Very important aspects that way too often affect organizations because of misconceptions on compliance are addressed here. For example, I recently had a customer who has a CMMI process that is making it take over a month of work on a task that requires less than one week of DB work and less than 30 min of coding in java. Hillel points this kind of situation as a common behavior because many companies do not count with compliance methods that scale to the work at hand. He also mentions bureaucracy, personal interests, operational complexity and other.

The core aspect of the book is it offers a set of patterns to keep compliance while at the same time also improving operational performance to gain competitive advantage.

The book begins with a motivation and an overview that provide a comprehensive fly-by of the entire book. Chapter four introduces the "how". 10 necessary factors that must exist in an organization to achieve excellence in high performance operations. Chapter 5 is about time, quality and money from the perspective of regulation and compliance and about mind setting. We should focus on guiding out thoughts and actions in the desired direction, not on thinking about avoidance of unwanted direction. Chapter 6 is about people and organizations focusing on compliance for the sake of status. Be it to show off or to get more contracts but not to really improve. It also talks about value streams and their economic impact at compliance level. Chapter 7 is about understanding the right purpose of compliance practices, which goes way beyond the verbatim application of the practices. On Chapter 8 Hillel introduces a 5-step-action "procedure to better understand the wisdom behind the practices stemming from compliance requirements". Chapter 9 is about value. this is a particularly attractive topic to me because it is focal to what my own business is about. HIllel's perspective is well-aligned in that it considers the business and customer facing value. Chapter 10 is a follow up of Chapter 9 on which he provides a guide to identify the operational system and explains the importance of performance management quantification to sustain value. My interpretation of chapters 11 to 15 is they are the set that covers Operational Excellence considering the systems engineering, service, and cultural/psychological and interpersonal matters. Chapters 16 to 18 are the wrap up. How to check the business performance and improvements, An integrated architecture that includes human factors and infrastructure. And what to expect when you do all this.

In conclusion. The book is not a technical masterpiece (it isn't intended to be so) nor a recipe to follow step-by-step. It is a combination of awareness booster and guidance to take as a foundation to modify the organization's behavior surrounding compliance.

I recommend this to all organizations that operate, or are considering to operate, under some sort of governance.

You can learn more about this topic at

Sep 19, 2011

Sep 15, 2011


I began working with a customer rather recently whose line of business is software development for very large banks. my relationship with them began with a training course on lean-agile project management that led to coaching. 

They were very happy and proud to have reached CMMI L2 one week before I began working with them.

The CEO agreed with my recommendation to bring Kanban in and after two days of training we began working on a new, small project. As result of their new CMMI status there was an executive decision to display large posters with their current processes throughout the company to bring visibility and ensure everybody followed process.

I decided it would be good to begin with the creation of an actual Value Stream Map for the project. The team created it based on their CMMI process, as expected, and discussing the action details for the project.  The resulting VSM is shown below. The orange cards are the steps, the blue cards are one per stakeholder, and the yellow cards are actions; so we have 8 steps with between 4 and 9 stakeholders per step and between 3 and 17 actions per step. In total there are 90 actions.

Most of you might be thinking something along the lines of "wow, is that a small project?" I was equally puzzled so I asked one of the team members to explain it all to me (I was at a meeting with executives while the map was being created). What called my attention from her explanation was that only two of the action cards actually had to do with coding! There were a few other technical actions but over 80% of the actions had nothing to do with the project itself and everything to do with process. As in, non-value-added process.

I decided to guide them through questions to help them realize the tremendous amount of waste they had but nobody in the team, including the manager, saw an issue with their process. I then asked them how long it would take to do the coding... and they said it would take at most 30 minutes (their bet was 10 minutes). So we have a 90-action process that requires up to 9 stakeholders for a customer request that takes at most 30 min of technical work.

It was clear then that they were still high from their recent CMMI L2 accomplishment and weren't seeing the obvious so I asked them to create a Kanban board and use it to manage the project flow making sure to quantify their actions from day one. This meeting took place on a Tuesday and the intention was for the project to be done by Friday or Monday at the latest. They revealed that some DB work also needed to be done and that would take several more hours of work so it appeared as if the value-added work was to take in reality less than one day. My recommendation was to get the information as directly as possible from the customer, implement the code with the proper testing and deploy it. Their CMMI process should've considered lightweight solutions in agreement with the size and complexity of the project instead of having a one-size fits all process.

I had one remote meeting a few days later to see if they had finished and to use the quantification gathered to help them realize their process needed improvement. But they hadn't even written the WIPs on the Kanban board, which we had already determined, and even less using it because they were focused on just executing away. This showed how the company is yet to properly use tools and methods and how and what they had accomplished with CMMI was being seen as an after-the-fact formalization to comply with governance. The second meeting took place three weeks later only to learn that they have 82 items in backlog and 26 in progress and 3 finished --new action cards were created. Then they made the mistake of changing the Kanban board to look the way they want things to happen and not the way they are actually happening, and the clear opportunities for improvement were being lost by their decision to remove the columns where delays were happening. I had a long conversation with them to modify the Kanban board and to work on those improvement opportunities because their delays were precisely due mostly to them and if nothing was done then the small project is going to end up taking over a month! The quantification gathered so far showed very clearly the high level of waste by the large number of actions yet to be processed and the long cycle times.

I emphasized on the need to make sure the Kanban board is a mirror of their reality and that by removing columns they were letting go of amazing opportunities to better the quality of their work and the lengthy cycle time. Most importantly, they were ignoring to consider everything that's happening around the board, their decisions and actions, or lack of them, and the impact it is having in both customer satisfaction and the economy of the project.

Quantification began 8 days late, when the project was expected to have been done. There are plenty of opportunities for improvement, some very important ones related to their customer, but internal changes need to happen first before they can talk to the customer and make agreements to improve.

Note: I Had the opportunity to show the VSM photo to Hillel Gazer and he commented that this is a very common problem in  organizations that do CMMI and the problem is due to a combination of a poor understanding from the organization and in good measure because maturity evaluations are often done by-the-book instead of based on understanding to help the customer do it right.

I'll write an update as this project develops and how the company matures.

--- Update: as of Nov 4, 2011 the project is far from finishing. The company indicated over a skype meeting I had with them that the delay is because customer approval is the bottleneck. They are not being proactive towards helping change behavior even when now they count with data to present their customer the economic impact this is having for everybody. Curiously, they themselves are reluctant to change and seem to want Kanban to magically improving things without any changes.