Dec 28, 2010

2011 Prediction

Masa's 2011 prediction as posted on the Cutter Consortium page

  • A Move Toward Value Innovation

    Under pressure from the continuing economic crisis, enterprises are struggling to maintain their level of competitiveness, or even remain in the market. What has been considered key to success will begin to shift, from the search for effective methodologies to the realization that innovation and value are the most important differentiators for success.

    For many years, enterprises have considered effective management of scope, schedule, and budget as the key to success. This has been proven over and over to be incorrect. (Just ask the professionals you know. How many projects have they been involved with where scope, schedule, and budget were really effectively managed?) Furthermore, there are projects that accomplish this goal and still do not succeed. (Think "no sales.") The success-failure reports from some well-known firms are misleading because they are based entirely on those evaluation parameters and continue to guide enterprises in the wrong direction.

    One of the contributions of Lean and Agile has been the realization that emphasis on quality is much more important than the three parameters of scope, schedule and budget. More recently, attention has been brought to value to customer as the main driver to increasing the chance of success. These contributions are helping enterprises better evaluate what is considered success and what is considered failure. More successful products will be created as enterprises around the planet continue to adopt Lean and Agile. This success will not only help those companies flourish, but will also contribute to better the world economy. Observe, for example, the tremendous level of enthusiasm over Kanban and Scrum adoption in South America where the economy of countries like Brazil, Peru, and Chile is growing surprisingly fast. Entrepreneurs are seeing the benefits of Lean and Agile, and are adopting their methodologies at a rate that may match North America and Europe soon.

    Innovation has been brought in as the newest player. Value Innovation puts innovation, quality, and value together to better both the customer-facing and the business-facing sides of the enterprise, with particular emphasis on the human factors of competitive advantage and enterprise success.

    2011 will be a year of maturity in the way we understand success and the beginning of a change in direction to follow Value Innovation.

Dec 23, 2010

Book Review: Continuous Delivery

Book: Continuous Delivery

Authors: Jez Humble and David Farley.

Addison Wesley, 2011

I had two simultaneous impressions when I browsed Continuous Delivery. The first impression was “is there anything really new here?” and the second was “humm… I have actually never seen a book that puts together all these topics that do have an important relationship.” Throughout my career I encountered over and over the continuous struggle between diverse teams to successfully develop and deliver software. Communication, coordination, and collaboration have always been an often-ignored important factor that affects the effectiveness of organizations. Add to that the lack of a coherent infrastructure to make design, development, testing, integration, and deployment fit seamlessly and the end result is the nightmares way too many organizations deal with on a daily basis. I decided to read on because I appreciate the importance and complexity of those issues, years ago when I built QA organizations for diverse companies, and the last couple of years coaching and consulting enterprises in the adoption of Lean-Agile practices and the importance of Value Innovation.

Jez and David did a very good job at addressing the infrastructure coherence issues and propose effective ways to bring order. The novel aspect is not the fact that, say, good configuration management, continuous integration, and testing are very important to the increase of software quality, and to both managers and engineers mental health. The value is in the way to make this happen successfully and with minimal effort. They rightfully use the term Delivery Ecosystem and put together innovative thinking with strong bases on the importance to optimize the entire process, increasing quality, reducing technical debt and, best of all, making work life easier to technical stakeholders. The single automated pipeline approach is in agreement with current practices influenced by Lean and Agile.

Part 1 is a very god compendium of practices necessary to every software development organization, which the authors present as the challenges to deliver software. Jezz and David begin by presenting some release antipatterns and what to do about them. Then they address configuration management and continuous integration, where they describe diverse types and practices, pointing out essential characteristics and making suggestions to make them more effective. The last chapter of this part points out the importance of testing and explains it in terms of the test quadrants as proposed by Brian Marick and mention some real life situations.

Part 2 focuses on the deployment pipeline. Jez and David begin with its components—or anatomy—from practices to its stages. They did they right thing by including automated and manual test strategies. The following chapter focuses on scripting for build and deployment by first mentioning some build tools and then guiding the reader by the hand on the basics to get builds and deployments automated; and is complemented by a short chapter on the commit stage wraps it up. The next two chapters focus on testing, automated acceptance and nonfunctional requirements. These topics are not comprehensive due to the extent and complexity of the topics but the authors made a good job at bringing the key factors to motivate the reader to understand their importance and to explore further. This part is concluded with a chapter on deployment; an activity taken way to lightly most of the times and a main point of failure for most organizations. The authors cover zero-downtime releases, emergency fixes, and other.

The last part of the book is on the delivery ecosystem. This is the most important part of the book. I would say that very senior leaders and very senior technical staff with rich, broad and in-depth experience may be able to browse through Parts 1 and 2, but should slow down and read in more detail this part. This is the glue that puts things together.

Concluding. This is a vey good boo that should’ve been written many years ago to avoid so much waste and pain by so many technical organizations because it puts diverse parts of the software development organization puzzle together in a way they actually fit together. The only aspect I wish was also there, but isn’t, is the human factor. That is, how to get not only the complexity of processes and infrastructure to work together coherently, but also how to get the people behind the process and infrastructure to also work together coherently. In any case, that wasn’t an objective of this book.

Dec 17, 2010

Masa to give courses at The University of California at Berkeley

Masa to begin giving extension courses at The University of California at Berkeley in 2011.

Dec 7, 2010

Cutter Consortium 2011 Predictions

Here's the main page to Cutter's 2011 predictions:
http://www.cutter.com/predictions/2011.html

and here's my prediction posted on the same page:
http://www.cutter.com/predictions/2011.html#maedam

Kanban book in Spanish

The best book on Kanban: David J Anderson's is now available in Spanish
http://agilemanagement.net/index.php/kanbanbook/
Translated by Masa K Maeda


English Cover Spanish Cover

A case of Lean-Agile Kanban adoption with value innovation

I did Lean-Agile Kanban adoption with Value Innovation at a 90-people organization back in mid September. Around 60 people where at the headquarters and the other 30 at a neighboring city just a 1.5 hour drive away. The training was given at the headquarters with the away team receiving instruction remotely taking advantage of the remote-training infrastructure they themselves developed. I myself didn't feel very comfortable with the remote training because my training technique includes doing games and, believe me, conducting team games for training purposes remotely is not for the faint of heart. Even more so when you also have a group to teach in person.

Coaching followed the training. The local group was difficult to train and coach because they allowed themselves to be distracted and continuously left the room to attend work related matters, even against my strong recommendation to focus entirely on the training by pretending they were doing this out in San Francisco instead of at their offices farther south. To make matters worse, the coaching wasn't done at their work area but at a training room with mixed teams. As result the employees and leaders treated the coaching as if it wasn't part of their every-day activities and the results weren't carried to their actual work. And then, there was lots of politics going on such that the leaders were more focused on how to position themselves to get a higher position in the coming elections than on getting the job done.

The remote group, on the other hand, was less preoccupied with political capital and more concerned with operations. When I got to their offices to do the coaching I was concerned with how effective it could be given how limited the success of the remote training was. The group was somewhat disfunctional. It became clear to me that they were segregated. Teams did not communicate or collaborate well. Leaders and individual contributors did not communicate well. It was a typical command-and-control environment. They continuously struggled to get projects finished and had a long list of pending projects.

Instead of going straight to the Kanban face-to-face training I started by conducting exercises to remove the communication and collaboration impediments. Fist, I conducted some NLP exercises to get them to mix and talk to each other at same level (no hierarchies or roles). Then I got them to create a snapshot of the organization using innovation games. By then they were already communicating much better. Next activity was to crate a value-stream map of their core process and by the time they were done the director told me this was the first time in the history of the organization that everybody knew the entire process in detail, him included. I proceeded to solidify lean-agile thnking some more. The following day we talked about Value Innovation and then worked on learning Kanban.

I followed up via email with the teams. The teams at headquarters didn't carry on any activities but the other group did put effort on the adoption, not without struggle, but keeping in close communicaton with me they managed to get Kanban implemented. I visited them last week and was no less than astonished by the amazing implementations they have made. They started with one Kanban board to get all in synch and then implemented custom team Kanban boards that were in agreement with the common board to communicate efficiently. One team actually had two team boards and each team member had his own board in perfect synchronicity without any extra effort. The team they interacted with had its own two boards also in agreement with the other team's main board. It was a mastery of coordination. They asked me some fine tuning questions.

There was one team whose manager deviated from Kanban, not on purpose, in an effort to be original and creative. Nor surprising, this team was struggling to get things done smoothly. I gave my opinions and recommendations to the team, and then talked to the manager in private to help him realize the creativity has to go towards adding value rather than over thinking a Kanban design and letting the Kanban board evolve naturally. We spent the rest of the day digging into the activities around the Kanban board: the meeting, analysis, discussion, decision-making, and execution.

A director from headquarters had joined me on this visit upon instructions from the CEO, who had considered making a dedicated effort to bring Kanban to the most progressive team at headquarters after I reported to him the progress at the remote location. The director was so impressed that on the way back to headquarters discussed with me a strategy to make the adoption at the entire headquarters instead of just one team. :-)

In a Kanban Adoption, Go Lean

Recent posting on the Cutter blog

http://blog.cutter.com/2010/12/06/in-a-kanban-adoption-go-lean/

Oct 27, 2010

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas... I mean Kanban

There was a workshop on Technical Debt this morning at the 2010 Cutter Summit in Cambridge, MA, Given by Israel Gat and Jim Highsmith. It was a good one, although short, in which several important points were discussed and I decided to blog on one specific point.

Towards the end of the workshop Israel proposed an event-driven process control (EDPC) based on the Ken Schwaber's process control view of Scrum. The fundamental idea is to replace the daily scrum meetings with on-demand meetings triggered by failure events on the project's continuous integration activity. That is, daily standups are to be no longer and instead the meeting will occur between all stakeholders involved with the failure at continuous integration time. This is motivated by the lean manufacturing modus operandi of stopping the production line when a defect is detected. The determinant is created by using Statistical Process Control over defects, in which the trigger is a policy. Israel emphasized on the fact that quantitative data enhances the power of scrum to reduce technical debt.

This was a rush of fresh air. Kanban does that! ...and more. Anyway, the point is, as agile methodologies mature they are gradually moving towards where Kanban already is. Kanban offers quantitative metrics such as statistical process control over delivered value and other policy-driven factors, cummulative flow, mean lead time, and other.

Oct 22, 2010

Oct 20, 2010

Rapid Maturity on sight

I did Lean-Agile Kanban adoption with Value Innovation at a 90-people organization back in mid September. Around 60 people where at the headquarters and the other 30 at a neighboring city just a 1.5 hour drive away. The training was given at the headquarters with the away team receiving instruction remotely taking advantage of the remote-training infrastructure they themselves developed. I myself didn't feel very comfortable with the remote training because my training technique includes doing games and, believe me, conducting team games for training purposes remotely is not for the faint of heart. Even more so when you also have a group to teach in person.

Coaching followed the training. The local group was difficult to train and coach because they allowed themselves to be distracted and continuously left the room to attend work related matters, even against my strong recommendation to focus entirely on the training by pretending they were doing this out in San Francisco instead of at their offices farther south. To make matters worse, the coaching wasn't done at their work area but at a training room with mixed teams. As result the employees and leaders treated the coaching as if it wasn't part of their every-day activities and the results weren't carried to their actual work. And then, there was lots of politics going on such that the leaders were more focused on how to position themselves to get a higher position in the coming elections than on getting the job done.

The remote group, on the other hand, was less preoccupied with political capital and more concerned with operations. When I got to their offices to do the coaching I was concerned with how effective it could be given how limited the success of the remote training was. The group was somewhat disfunctional. It became clear to me that they were segregated. Teams did not communicate or collaborate well. Leaders and individual contributors did not communicate well. It was a typical command-and-control environment. They continuously struggled to get projects finished and had a long list of pending projects.

Instead of going straight to the Kanban face-to-face training I started by conducting exercises to remove the communication and collaboration impediments. Fist, I conducted some NLP exercises to get them to mix and talk to each other at same level (no hierarchies or roles). Then I got them to create a snapshot of the organization using innovation games. By then they were already communicating much better. Next activity was to crate a value-stream map of their core process and by the time they were done the director told me this was the first time in the history of the organization that everybody knew the entire process in detail, him included. I proceeded to solidify lean-agile thnking some more. The following day we talked about Value Innovation and then worked on learning Kanban.

I followed up via email with the teams. The teams at headquarters didn't carry on any activities but the other group did put effort on the adoption, not without struggle, but keeping in close communicaton with me they managed to get Kanban implemented. I visited them last week and was no less than astonished by the amazing implementations they have made. They started with one Kanban board to get all in synch and then implemented custom team Kanban boards that were in agreement with the common board to communicate efficiently. One team actually had two team boards and each team member had his own board in perfect synchronicity without any extra effort. The team they interacted with had its own two boards also in agreement with the other team's main board. It was a mastery of coordination. They asked me some fine tuning questions.

There was one team whose manager deviated from Kanban, not on purpose, in an effort to be original and creative. Nor surprising, this team was struggling to get things done smoothly. I gave my opinions and recommendations to the team, and then talked to the manager in private to help him realize the creativity has to go towards adding value rather than over thinking a Kanban design and letting the Kanban board evolve naturally. We spent the rest of the day digging into the activities around the Kanban board: the meeting, analysis, discussion, decision-making, and execution.

A director from headquarters had joined me on this visit upon instructions from the CEO, who had considered making a dedicated effort to bring Kanban to the most progressive team at headquarters after I reported to him the progress at the remote location. The director was so impressed that on the way back to headquarters discussed with me a strategy to make the adoption at the entire headquarters instead of just one team. :-)

the most voted topic to cover at agileperu

epeupc
@ was the most voted topic to cover yesterday in the monthly meeting of @ @ /via @

Oct 13, 2010

WIP Limits and how to leverage to improve flow- Lean Agile and the Lean Agile Prism

From AOCWiki

Host: Michael DePaoli (Agile Coach, VersionOne (http://www.versionone.com) )

Bill Dominguez (Agile Coach, Shojiki Solutions)


Participants: Dave Smith, Tom Moore, Tom Lody, Alida Cheung, Shane Duan, David Mcleod, Steve Bockman, Jeremy Lightsmith, John Donahue, Brian Chan, Dirk Wippermueller, Jeffrey Frederick, Jim Sun, Trevor Morris, Mike Wright, Moira Wilmes, Vickie Hall


Session notes:

We started with a discussion of common problems that occur on agile and non-agile teams with unplanned work,bug escalations Examples: Startups that don't usually have the goal of shipping a product in the short run, rather they need to achieve their next round of funding. This can cause a highly volitale set of priorities.


Companies that allow technical debt to get out into the wild begin to get escalations from customers about problems. This only increases as more debt is put out into the world. Teams that don't have a way of dealing with this that are following an agile approach like Scrum will be very frusturated and frequently won't have a useful velocity.


To address this problem an example was given where a team implemented a defect threshold. This was explained with a metaphor where delivering a release was equated to landing a plane. Teams that allow for the amassing of defects during a release create a situation where they frequently can't land their plane because the find / fix rate of defects doesn't approach a smooth landing approach. Their plane keeps bouncing back up. This happens because of the complexity of defects that have been built upon other defects. Frequently bug fixing in this environment treats symptoms of a bug and not the root cause. Also, the more complex the situation the more likely fixing one defect breaks code in other places (more defects).


Mike gave an example of a team that put in place a defect threshold that basically set a maximum altitude' the release could fly at in terms of number of the amount of time to fix defects. So, the particular team set this ceiling at 3 weeks. Therefore, no developer could continue to work on new features if their bug backlog hit the defect threshold. This policy always kept the release at an altitude that could have a predictable landing. This was a basic

application of Work In Process Limits (WIP).


Bill introduced the concept of the Lean Agile Prism which is an extension to the traditional iron triangle of project management by adding 3 other facets, those being Value, Quality and Innovation. More information at www.shojiki-soltutions.com.


Bill and Mike also introduced kanban as a way to implement pull based processes for a team and explained the use of WIP limits to eliminate waste in the value flow (workflow). Also it was explained for for continuous process improvement to occur, there must be slack in a process. Case in point, it is frequently the case that QA is a bottleneck in software development value flows. If all the other operations upstream from QA continue to produce inventory to drop at QA's door step, this is push based planning and not pull based and is not respecting WIP Limits of the upstream steps in the value flow. If instead, when QA's WIP limit was reached, the dev teamwould stop pulling in new items once they reached their WIP limit, there would be slack created for the dev team.


With this time, the dev team can spend time on process improvement, innovation or just helping QA to eliminate the bottleneck for the moment. Once the bottleneck is evaluated from a value flow perspective and this issue is addressed, it is inevitable that another will occur, hence continuous process improvement. By having slack in the value flow occur because of bottlenecks allows us to identify the bottlenecks. If every operation in the value flow is unbounded by WIP, you can't truly identify the issues.


Bill also introduced the concept of an Organizational Value Currency that can be used as a common measure of value for work / features. This allow for richer prioritization of work as well as helping to provide an understanding of the cost of changes that are being considered. Without a common currency, it is difficult to negotiate trade offs.

It was clarified that how a team chooses to do prioritization of stories ahead of the kanban development process is up to the organization and should be appropriate given their context. However, once a story arrives in the queue that is ready for dev (analysis or what ever the first step in the value flow) it needs to be ready, just as how stories that are brought to a Sprint planning meeting need to be ready, otherwise it adds waste to the process.


Excellent kanban reference is David Anderson's book on Kanban

Oct 8, 2010

Competencia en trabajo de conocimiento es algo malo

Wow! Such a long time without posting. Too much going on with the business and I feel ashamed for the lack of posting. Here's an email response I sent to a person in Peru regarding competence vs collaboration:

Agile nos recomienda que cuando tenemos que llevar a cabo una evaluación, tal como por ejemplo para determinar una herramienta a adoptar, es mucho mas efectivo evaluarlas todas al mismo tiempo en lugar de una a la ves. Esto es adecuado porque reduce el monto de tiempo que toma llevar a cabo las actividades de evaluación.

La manufactura lean (entiendase Kaizen) nos dice que el trabajo competitivo es bueno porque motiva a las personas a hacer mejor.

Esa labor de competencia en Lean es, sin embargo, aplicable solamente en tareas de naturaleza manual (i.e., manufactura) y no en tareas de carácter creativo tal como el trabajo de conocimiento. Hay estudios extensivos que demuestran que motivadores externos de hecho hacen que la ejecución sea peor que si no hay motivadores en absoluto. Afortunadamente ustedes no están utilizando como motivación el darles a las personas dinero sino el adoptar su trabajo. El problema con ese modelo está en que no es lean porque genera desperdicio. Todo el tiempo y labor del equipo que pierde el concuso se va a la basura! Si ustedes pueden darse el beneficio de tener dos grupos compitiendo entonces sería mejor tenerlos a todos como un grupo colaborando efectivamente para generar una solución, y el motivador que deben encontrar es un motivador interno y no un motivador externo. El motivador externo es ganar la competencia. El motivador interno que actualmente utilizan es el adoptar la solución mejor. Podrían agregar otro(s) motivador(es) interno(s). De esa manera el trabajo de todos los involucrados será de valor. Colaboración supera competencia siempre, por eso los modelos industriales de Japón y Korea superan los de los E.U. y muchos otros paises.

Competencia impulsa a apresurar las cosas mucho mas que impulsa a innovar. Motivadores internos motivan a innovar. El concepto de respeto a las personas e incremento de conocimiento (lo cual se logra muy bien mediante cooperación) supera por mucho la competencia. El grupo de trabajo que pierde la competencia perderá motivación en su grán mayoría y el grupo que ganará comenzará a tender a ver a otros por encima del hombro y se distrairá y se confiará durante la siguiente ronda de concurso, por lo que la efectividad de ambos grupos disminuirá con el tiempo. Ese acto de ganar y de ser mejor es una ilusión.

Jun 25, 2010

Webinar: Moving from Failing to Successful Agile Adoption (new version)

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
New version of my Webinar (added new material and has better sound quality): Moving from Failing to Successful Agile Adoption
is available at http://bit.ly/c4p87N

----- Spanish -----
Una nueva versión de mi
Webinar (con material nuevo y mejor sonido): Moving from Failing to Successful Agile Adoption
está disponible en http://bit.ly/c4p87N

Jun 24, 2010

What makes a good manager?

A few weeks back I was at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco having a conversation with a good friend and an executive from a very large top organization in the Bay Area. We were talking about managing projects and how lean-agile can better things up. At some point the executive said, "A good manager is the one who gets things done!" That statement sounds great, right? Nonetheless, i counter-argued saying, "I think that a good manager is the on e who gets things done with minimal or no collateral damage." He looked at me intently... smiled... and continued on with the conversation. The next day I got an email from a recruiter from that company.

Then last week I was at a gathering in which a question shown on a slide and we were asked to discuss answers to it. The question was "you are asked to reduce the burn rate of the HR department by 10%, what do you do?" I was sitting at a round table with five other people to do this. One person, who happens to be a senior project manager, I learned later, was arguing that we should go about doing a round of lay offs. Almost everybody at the table started then talking about what the criteria should be to let people go. I was quietly listening to the conversation, amazed of how easily they were willing to get rid of the most valuable asset on every enterprise. Finally, I argued that we could focus on first understanding why the need for reduction, which can help on the decision making process, and also have a closer look at the processes to identify areas of improvement, which would lead to cost reduction potentially beyond 10%. In the end my proposal was the answer we presented.

May 28, 2010

Webinar: Moving from Failing to Successful Agile Adoption

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
My Webinar: Moving from Failing to Successful Agile Adoption
is available at http://blip.tv/file/3645444

----- Spanish -----
Mi
Webinar: Moving from Failing to Successful Agile Adoption
está disponible en http://blip.tv/file/3645444

May 21, 2010

New game: Packing Peanuts to learn about technical debt

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
My new game: "Packing Peanuts" is now available on tastycupcakes.com

----- Spanish -----
Mi nuevo juego: "
Packing Peanuts" está dispnible en tastycupcakes.com

May 20, 2010

Making pamphlets, my Kanban game has 5 stars :-)

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
"Making Pamphlets", my kanban game which I posted on tastycupcakes.com is currently the featured on the home page of tastycupcakes.com (a website dedicated to learning through games) and has 5-star rating :-)


----- Spanish -----
"Making Pamphlets", mi juego de Kanban que publiqué en tastycupcakes.com (un sitio dedicado a aprender jugando) esta actualmente en la página principal de ese sitio y clasificado con 5-estrellas! :-)

May 19, 2010

Book Review: Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business

It is very rare to find a good technical book that is also a good management book and addresses both aspects in a balanced way. But what really makes one's chin drop is finding a book that goes beyond the methodological, the mechanical, and the administrative aspects to address the ever so important--but way too often ignored--human aspects required to make a project successful. David's is such a book.

Kanban is a relatively new lean-agile method that allows teams and the projects they work on to be built in a true continuous flow manner in which improvements over the product being built and over the process itself occur. I indicted it is relatively new because its origins started back in 2004 as David writes on chapter 4. David is the person behind the creation and evolution of Kanban as a mechanism for software development. Although Kanban started in manufacturing, it has evolved to become rather unique in many aspects so don't expect a 1:1 mapping. Meaning, you should read this book cover-to-cover to get full benefits.

Part One describes David's journey of revelation to develop the Kanban model and explains why Kanban is a very effective method. In many ways it is due to its ease of acceptance, adoption, and the highly collaborative and communicative nature that allows people to bring change and evolution to processes what makes it successful.

Part Two explains the basics of Kanban as a mechanism. From work-in-progress to lead time, figuring the right cadence to maximize productivity, and prioritization; all of them paramount factors to mature enterprises. Using the case of an IT division from Microsoft, David explains how Kanban made the best out of the worst department at a division of Microsoft's IT division. Kanban brought high visibvility to the issues that affected the department and through waste elimination, limitation of work-in-progress, adequate policies, and cadence the department became amazingly successful. The last chapter treats in detail the importance of generating a culture of continuous improvement within an organization.

Part Three is the core of the book and explains how to implement Kanban. It introduces Value Stream Maps from a kanban perspective and goes into full detail on how to create a kanban board, the anatomy of the cards, and how to treat aspects such as concurrency and unordered activities, which are hard to deal with under other methodologies. How to use the board as a control and pull system as well as an scalable mechanism for daily standups is treated on Chapter 7. True sustainable pace is explained on chapters 8 and 9. Chapter 10 provides some strategies to limit the work-in-progress. One key factor in the communication within and outside the team are the service level agreements and are explained on chapter 11. Kanban metrics are particularly useful and fun to use, as shown on chapter 12. A problem with most methodologies is that they do not scale well. Kanban is better suited for such situations and chapter 13 gives insights on how to do that. The last two chapters focus on operational and strategy issues to increase its effectiveness and adoption.

Par Four is the next-step. That is, once you have a functional kanban mechanism in place at your organization here's how to make it evolutionary to create significant impact at the organization. Consider eliminating or at least reducing bottlenecks, waste and variability; better usage of resources; identifying wasteful activities; understanding and treating variability; and the importance of properly treating blocked work.

I introduced Kanban to a financial institution recently and even use it as an administrative tool for ma work and personal activities. The results have been no less than awesome.

May 12, 2010

David J Anderson's book on Kanban is out :-)

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
David J Anderson's book
Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business
is now available
http://tinyurl.com/29phwxr

----- Spanish -----
El libro de David J Anderson's
Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business
ya está disponible
http://tinyurl.com/29phwxr

May 11, 2010

Mexican Academy of Informatics just made me a member

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
Unexpected event. I just got a phone call from the AMIAC (Mexican Academy of Informatics) and was told they are making me a member. This is a huge opportunity, which obviously I accepted, that will make easier my plan to create strong relationship with the Secretary of the Economy to get them to give lean-agile similar support for adoption as that given to CMMI, TSP, ISO, etc.
It will also give me the opportunity to contribute to the creation of a new program to improve the educational system in Mexico.

----- Spanish -----
Esto me llego de manera inesperada. La Academia Mexicana de Informática (AMIAC) me invitó a ser miembro de ella; lo cual acepté con mucho gusto. Esto es una grán oportunidad que facilitará mi plan de poder tratar con la Secretaría de Economía que le dé apoyo a la adopción de lean-agile de la misma manera que lo ha hecho con CMMI, TSP, ISO y otros. También me permitirá colaborar en la generación de un nuevo plan educativo para México.

May 10, 2010

My first Kanban game

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
My first Kanban game is now available on tastycupcakes.com. It is a very simple game that helps practice some kanban concepts.
http://tinyurl.com/29kg42r

----- Spanish -----
Mi primer juego de Kanban está disponible en tastycupcakes.com. Es un juego simple que ayuda a practicar algunos conceptos de Kanban.
http://tinyurl.com/29kg42r

May 2, 2010

Coming webinar: Moving from Failing to Successful Agile Adoption (5/19)

----- English -----
I'll be giving a webinar on "Moving from Failing to Successful Agile Adoption" on May 19 at Noon PST. For more information visit Shojiki Solution's website or http://bit.ly/aBWFya

----- Spanish -----
Voy a dar un webinar en Inglés titulado "Moving from Failing to Successful Agile Adoption" el 19 de Mayo a las 12:00 hrs (hora de California USA). Para mayor información visiten el website de Shojiki Solutions o http://bit.ly/aBWFya

MexAPLN: First public meeting

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
MexAPLN's first public meeting took place April 29, 7:45 PM, at the offices of IDS in Mexico City. Despite the fact that, in addition to the usual heavy traffic, there were a couple of very serious accidents that delayed some of the attendees, The meeting was a great success! There were 20 people, out of which 2/3 were guests.

The first 25 minutes were for networking and extra slack for those delayed by traffic... and we had great hor d'ouvres. Adriana was our master of ceremonies. She welcomed everybody and to get started had Masa give a little bit of background talking about APLN and how MexAPLN was formed. Adriana then introduced Sergio Durán, who talked about MexAPLN and its charter. We moved then to the main topic of the meeting which was a talk by Masa on lean-agile project management, emphasizing on the lean-agile prism. There was great interest and participation by the audience. A post-talk discussion on agile adoption took place with great comments by everyone.

The meeting's closure consisted on a raffle and a quick introduction by all present.


----- Spanish -----

La primera reunión pública del MexAPLN tuvo lugar el 29 de abril, 19:45 hrs, en las oficinas de IDS en la Ciudad de México. A pesar de que además del tráfico habitual hubo un par de accidentes muy graves que retrasó algunos de los asistentes, la reunión fue un gran éxito! Había 20 personas, de las cuales 2 / 3 fueron invitados.

Los primeros 25 minutos fueron para la networking y dar mas tiempo a aquellos perjudicados por el tráfico ... y tuvimos grandes hor d'ouvres. Adriana fue nuestra maestra de ceremonias. Ella dio la bienvenida a todo el mundo y para empezar Masa dio un poco de antecedentes hablando sobre el APLN y cómo se formó MexAPLN. Adriana presentó a continuación a Sergio Durán, quien habló sobre MexAPLN y sus estatutos. Pasamos entonces al tema principal de la reunión que fue una charla sobre gestión de proyectos ágil por parte de Masa, con énfasis en el prisma lean-agile. Hubo gran interés y participación de la audiencia. Una discusión posterior a la charla sobre la adopción ágil se llevó a cabo con grandes comentarios por todos.

El cierre de la reunión consistió en una rifa y una introducción rápida por todos los presentes.

Apr 24, 2010

Kanban Coaching Workshop

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
This event actually took place before my previous posting on Rapid Requirements Gathering. It is no excuse but the last month and a half have been intense. Between March 19 and April 16 I was home only one day; and all of last week has been intense too.

I spent April 13 through 16 at Dana Point, Orange County, in Southern California on a Kanban Coach Workshop with David J. Anderson (the workshop was April 14~16). This was actually my second Kanban workshop with David; the first one was last November in San Francisco. That first workshop was amazing and this one was even better.

Dana Point is a quiet area right next to the ocean with a beautiful beach and few people at this time of the year.

12 people attended the workshop. Some of them where local and most of the rest from the west side of the USA. The one exception was Russell Healy from New Zealand. The workshop had a very informal tone and was driven by two factors: an agenda of key points David wanted to make sure we covered and an agenda that was created by all of us during the first 45 min. of the workshop. Daniel Vacanti, who is part of D. J. Anderson & Associates, was also there to assist David.

Most of the course were advanced Kanban topics (although we revisited some foundations as well) which included the human factors such as emotional intelligence, and executive level aspects of Kanban adoption. The workshop was highly productive also because there was a high degree of exchange of experiences and ideas. Definitely the kind of things that cannot be effectively captured on slides or a book.

I recently designed a Kanban game and used it for the first time at a Kanban course I gave to a large financial institution. My strategy has been to create a set of games that show different aspects of Kanban since it is very difficult to get to capture it effectively in one game. Well, one of the biggest surprises at the workshop was Russell's Kanban game. He managed to figure out a way to demostrate a a large amount of Kanban modus operandi in one game, which is also fun to play. Needless to say we all were amazed by it, including David.

I have to say the workshop was worth many times over its dollar cost because, and I think this goes for all who attended, the wealth of knowledge was vast, deep, and unique.

Not everybody who was at the workshop is in the photo. Attendants were:
Wendy Wong
Paul Hodgetts
Rand Bradley
Masa K Maeda
David J Anderson
Daniel Vacanti
Darrin Ladd
Keith Clinton
George Schlitz
Russell Healy
Donna Reed
..not on the photo..
Juan Pablo Dellarroquelle
Keith Clinton
Alan Atlas

----- Spanish -----
Este evento de hecho tuvo lugar antes de mi publicación anterior sobre Adquisición Rápida de Requerimientos. No es excusa pero el último mes y medio han sido intensos. Entre marzo 19 y abtril 16 estuve en casa tan sólo un día, y toda la semana pasada ha sido intensa también.

Pasé del 13 al 16 de Abril un tiempo increíble en Dana Point, condado de Orange, en California del Sur en un Taller de Coucheo en Kanban con David J. Anderson (el taller mismo fue del 14 al 16 de abril). Este fue mi segundo taller Kanban con David; el primero fue en noviembre del año pasado en San Francisco. Ese primer taller fue increíble y éste fue aún mejor.

Dana Point es una zona tranquila justo al lado del mar con una hermosa playa y muy pocas personas en esta época del año.

12 personas asistieron al taller. Algunas de ellas locales y la mayoría del resto vino de la parte oeste de los EE.UU.. La única excepción fue Russell Healy de Nueva Zelanda. El taller tuvo un tono muy informal y fue impulsado por dos factores: un programa de puntos clave que David quería asegurarse que se cubriera y una agenda que fue creada por todos nosotros durante los primeros 45 min. del taller. Daniel Vacanti, quien forma parte de D.J. Anderson & Associates, también estuvo ahí para ayudar a David.

La mayor parte del curso fueron temas avanzados de Kanban (aunque también revisitamos algunos fundamentos) que incluyeron los factores humanos tales como la inteligencia emocional, y los aspectos de nivel ejecutivo para la adopción Kanban. El taller fue muy productivo también debido a que hubo un alto grado de intercambio de experiencias e ideas. Definitivamente el tipo de cosas que no pueden ser efectivamente capturados en las diapositivas o un libro.

Hace poco diseñé un juego Kanban y lo utilizé por primera vez en un curso de Kanban que le dí a una institución financiera grande. Mi estrategia ha sido crear un conjunto de juegos que muestren diferentes aspectos de Kanban, ya que es muy difícil llegar a capturarlo todo de manera efectiva en un juego. Bueno, pues una de las mayores sorpresas en el taller fue el juego de Kanban que Russell diseñó. Tuvo el ingenio para encontrar una manera de demostrar una gran cantidad del modus operandi de Kanban en un juego que también es divertido de jugar. Todos estuvimos asombrados y nos divertimos con el, incluyendo David.

Tengo que decir que el taller valió muchas veces su costo en dólares, ya que, y creo que esto va por todos los que asistieron, la riqueza de conocimientos fue muy grande, profundo y único.


Apr 20, 2010

Rapid Requirements Gathering with Scott Killen

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

----- English -----
Today's BayAPLN meeting had Scott Killen give a workshop on Rapid Requirements Gathering. Scott is an amicable person and an entertaining presenter. His workshop was very dynamic and it was easy to understand the concepts.The basic steps are (in my own words and not the way Scott explained them):
  • Requirements suggestions. All those involved white succinct ideas for requirements on cards.
  • Expose cards. The cards are read aloud by two or more people and are posted randomly on as much wall space as possible; preferably on separate walls.
  • Making sense of the cards. All attendants go about looking at the cards and start gathering them by topics at separate areas of the wall(s). This has to be done in a self-organized manner but making sure not to let anyone dominate actions. It was to be done in a collaborative way and through discussion.
  • Eliminating redundancies. All attendants self-organize to discuss the cards and eliminate those that are redundant. Something I observed and commented to Scott is that is important to make sure not to eliminate important cards or let important interpretations to get lost by removing any given card. That is, two cards on the same subject could bring important, complementary conceptualization and in such case it is better to either keep both cards or write a new one that captures what the two separate cards convey.
  • Prioritization. All attendants discuss and sort the cards by priority
  • Discussion. For each top priority cards (say, the top two or three per category) the people who wrote it or are involved explain about it, and are discussed.
  • Voting. All attendants get 5 dot-stickers to place them at will on the cards. This allows to know what everybody considers to be the most important stuff, which then drives what needs to be done and in which order.







----- Spanish -----
La reunión de hoy del BayAPLN tuvo a Scott Killen danso un workshop sobre Adquisición Rápida de Requerimientos. Scott es una persona muy amigable que sabe entretener durante sus presentaciones. Su workshop fue muy dinámico y fue fácil entender los conceptos.

Los pasos básicos son (en mis propias palabras y no en la forma que Scott lo explicó):
  • Sugerencias de requerimientos. Todos los participantes escriben ideas para requerimientos de manera sucinta en tarjetas
  • Exponer tarjetas. Las tarjetas son leídas en voz alta por dos o mas personas, y son puestas en paredes de manera aleatoria.
  • Haciendo sentido de las tarjetas. Todos los participantes se auto-organizan para ver las tarjetas y las agrupan en base a temas. Hay que asegurarse de no dejar que nadie domine la acción. Debe hacerse de manera colaborativa y mediante discusiones.
  • Eliminación de redundancias. Todos los participantes se auto-organizan para discutir las tarjetas y eliminar aquellas que son redundantes. Algo que observé y le comenté a Scott is que es importante asegurarse de no eliminar tarjetas importantes o dejar que se pierdan interpretaciones importantes al eliminar tarjetas. Es decir, dos tarjetas sobre un mismo tema pueden conllevar conceptos complementarios importantes, y en ese caso es mejor que o bien se conserven las dos tarjetas, o bien escribir una nueva tarjeta que capture y reemplase las dos tarjetas en questión.
  • Priorización. Los participantes discuten y ordenan las tarjetas por prioridad.
  • Discusión. Para cada grupo, las personas que escribieron las 2 o 3 tarjetas de mas alta prioridad las expliquen y sean discutidas.
  • Votación. Los participantes obtienen 5 calcomanías de punto para que las pongan en las tarjetas que consideran mas importantes. Esto permite que todos sepan lo que se considera ser mas importante y dirige lo que se debe de hacer y en que orden.

Apr 16, 2010

Kanban boards as VSMs

----- English version on top, Spanish version at the bottom ----
----- Versión en Inglés primero, versión en Español al fondo -----


--- English----
Lots of people keep asking me about the conversation I had with Alan Shalloway from which the idea of Kanban boards as VSMs emerged. You can read more on at
http://bit.ly/bGt62B


--- Spanish ---
Mucha gente me sigue preguntando sobre la conversación que tuve con Alan Shalloway en la que surgió la idea de usar tableros de Kanban como VSMs (Mapas de Valor de Flujo). Pueden leer mas al respecto en
http://bit.ly/bGt62B

Apr 14, 2010

Lean-Agile Prism

Article I wrote for Agile Journal
http://bit.ly/dbbBHJ

Apr 10, 2010

Conference presentation at ITESM

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

--English--
I'm back at my hotel room after having given a presentation on Lean-Agile and Innovation. Unfortunately I got very sick last night; and was feeling quite weak and out of focus during my talk, thus it didn't go as great as I wanted. Students and university staff received quite well what I had to say on lean-agile and it seems they enjoyed both the pair face-drawing exercise and, even more so, the speed-boat exercise which I used for the audience to evaluate the conference (taking advantage of the fact that mine was the last, and main, presentation.

One of the talks I attended yesterday was by Luis Armando Bravo from Probionics, a mexican maker of prosthetics controlled by muscular electric signals. His work is amazing as he managed to develop a set of prosthetics, that are lighter, stronger, faster, cheaper, and more versatile than any other in the world.

The other talk I attended was by Ricardo Medina from Microsoft. As expected, it was part marketing - part presentation. The highlight was the offering from Microsoft to provide no -strings-attached material resources to young entrepreneurs as long as their idea includes the use of technology.

This congress was actually organized by the students at ITESM, with help from some university staff, and they did a fantastic job. There were around 300 attendants and sponsorship from several national and international businesses. Congrats!


--Spanish--
Estoy de regerso en mi habitación del hotel después de haber dado una presentación sobre Lean-Agile e Innovación. Lamentablemente tuve una noche difícil debido a que me enferme; y me sentí muy débil y fuera de foco durante mi presentación, por lo que resultó como yo lo deseaba. Los estudiantes y profesores universitarios recibieron muy bien lo que les comuniqué sobre lean-agile y parece que disfrutaron los dos ejercicios: el dibujar caras por parejas y, más aún, el ejercicio de la lancha, el cual utilizé para que la audiencia evaluara la conferencia ( aprovechando el hecho de que mi plática fue la última, y la presentación principal.

Una de las pláticas a las que asistí ayer fue por Luis Armando Bravo de Probionics, un fabricante mexicano de prótesis controlada por señales eléctricas musculares. Su obra es muy buena y se las arregló para desarrollar una serie de prótesis, que son más ligeros, más fuertes, más rápidos, más baratos y más versátiles que cualquier otra en el mundo.

La otra plática que asistí fue la de Ricardo Medina, de Microsoft. Como es de esperarse, fue parte mercadotécnia - parte presentación. El punto culminante fue el ofrecimiento de Microsoft de proporcionar recursos materiales sin compromiso a los jóvenes empresarios, siempre y cuando su idea incluya el uso de la tecnología.

Este congreso fue organizado en por los alumnos del ITESM, con la ayuda de staff universitario, e hicieron un trabajo fantástico. Hubo alrededor de 300 asistentes y obtuvieron patrocinio de varias empresas nacionales e internacionales. Felicidades!


Mar 26, 2010

Snow Crash and the emerge of lean-agile

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

--- English ---
Silly question: have you read Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash? I know... I know... who hasn't? duh! I myself read it for the first time back in 1996 (didn't read it when it was published in 1992 because I lived in Japan at that time and the novel wasn't available in the City I lived in. Moved to the USA in 1995).

So, why am I bringing Snow Crash up? At the beginning of the novel, Stephenson wrote the are things we Americans do better than anyone else and the list includes music, movies, and microcode (i.e., software). This is a nice thing to believe. Take movies, for example; we make really good movies (The Matrix pops out in my mind). Even the bad movies are good; why, because even when they suck they entertain and bring audiences and make money. Fortunately we are much better at doing good ones even better. Take for example "La Jetée" made into "12 Monkeys", or the short story "The Sentinel" into the movie "2001 A Space Odyssey". Our pizzas are also awesome (Chicago style being my favorite) and although I have never been to Italy friends have told me there's no way Italian pizzas are better than ours! The emerge of new music in the USA is unlike anywhere else. We can create new music just as much as we can take something from anywhere else in the world and morph it into something new and cool.

All that is, of course, arguable. But we all are entitled to an opinion and even if things are not to the larger extent my words may sound we can all agree that many good things have been done here.

Similarly, lean and agile are a combination to two things. We took things that work in practice, regardless of what theory or established processes indicated, and made them better. We didn't care if a standard came out of a DoD sponsored effort, or a model came out of a prestigious institution. We wanted something that worked really well in the real world and that acknowledged the variability that comes from working in an ever changing environment. From market trends to customer needs, the economy, team members personal life, health, etc. We wanted and needed a foundation and practices to make us succeed in such chaotic environment.

Lean and agile evolved independently of each other, although it is clear that agile follows some very similar foundation. None of them brought something entirely new but both took bits and pieces that have had good results and shaped them up into something congruent and quite useful and effective.

The history of humanity has gone through some important changes such as from he feudal days to the renaissance, the industrial revolution, the popularization of culture, and an information revolution. The pattern is pretty much bringing something big, monolithic, power-based, controlling, and inefficient to something smaller, distributed, knowledge-based, collaborative and efficiency-oriented.

Lean-agile is following that pattern by emphasizing on work in small teams, breaking work into small chunks, empowering people (and respecting them), increase collaboration at all levels of the enterprise and with customers, and replacing costly and fancy processes with efficient practices.


--- Español ---
Pregunta tonta: ¿Has leído la novela de Neal Stephenson titulada Snow Crash? Lo sé ... lo sé ... ¿Quién no? Yo la leí por primera vez en 1996 (no lo leí cuando se publicó en 1992, porque yo vivía en Japón en esa época y la novela no estaba disponible en la ciudad que vivió in mudó a los EE.UU. en 1995).

Así que, ¿por qué estoy atrayendo atención a Snow Crash? Al comienzo de la novela, Stephenson escribió que hay cosas que los Estadounidenses hacemos mejor que nadie, y la lista incluye música, películas, y microcódigo (es decir, software). Esta es una cosa agradable de creer. Tomemos películas, por ejemplo, hacemos películas realmente buenas (The Matrix surge en mi mente). Incluso las malas películas son buenas, ¿por qué, porque aún cuando son malas entretienen y atraen al público, y ganan dinero. Afortunadamente somos mucho mejor en hacer algo bueno aún mejor. Tomemos, por ejemplo, "La Jetée" en la cual se basó "12 Monkeys", o el cuento "The Sentinel" a partir del cual se hizo "2001 Una Odisea en el Espacio". Nuestras pizzas son también buenísimas (estilo Chicago son mis favoritas), y aunque nunca he estado en Italia, amigos que han ido me han dicho que no hay manera de que las pizzas italianas sean mejores que las nuestras! El surgimiento de nueva música en los E.U. no tiene comparación con cualquier otro lugar.Podemos crear nueva música tanto como podamos tomar algo de cualquier otra parte del mundo y se transforman en algo nuevo y fabuloso.

Todo esto es, por supuesto, discutible. Pero todos tenemos derecho a una opinión y aunque las cosas no lleguen a ser de la medida que mis palabras reflejan, creo que todos estaremos de acuerdo que muchas cosas buenas se han hecho aquí.

Del mismo modo, lean y agile son una combinación de dos cosas. Tomaron las cosas que funcionan en la práctica, independientemente de lo que la teoría o de los procesos establecidos indicam, y las hicieron mejor. No nos importaba si una norma salió de un esfuerzo patrocinado por el Departamento de Defensa, o un modelo salió de una institución de prestigio. Queríamos algo que funciona muy bien en el mundo real y que reconoce la variabilidad que viene de trabajar en un entorno en constante cambio. De las tendencias del mercado a las necesidades del cliente, la economía, la vida personal de los miembros del equipo, la salud, etc.. Queríamos y necesitabamos una base y prácticas que nos hicieran prosperar en un ambiente sumamente caótico.

Lean y agile evolucionaron de forma independiente el uno del otro, aunque es evidente que agile sigue algún fundamento muy similar a lean. Ninguno de ellos aportó algo totalmente nuevo, pero ambos tomaron pedazos que han tenido buenos resultados en la práctica y en forma congruente para llegar a algo muy útil y eficaz.

La historia de la humanidad ha pasado por algunos cambios importantes, como de los días feudales al Renacimiento, la revolución industrial, la divulgación de la cultura, y la revolución de la información. El patrón es cambiar de algo grande, monolítico, basado en el poder, controlador, e ineficiente en algo más pequeño, distribuido, basado en el conocimiento, en colaboración y orientado a eficiencia.

Lean-agile está siguiendo ese patrón, poniendo énfasis en el trabajo en pequeños equipos, rompiendo el trabajo en pequeños pedazos, capacitando a las personas (y respetandolas), aumentando la colaboración en todos los niveles de la empresa y con los clientes, y substituyendo los procesos costosos y pesados con prácticas eficientes.

MexAPLN meeting: March 2010

----- English version on top and Spanish version at the bottom -----
----- Versión en Inglés primero y version en Español abajo -----

--- English ---
MexAPLN meeting on March 25 took place at Software Guru, again. Many thanks to SG for hosting us! I like their offices quite a bit, btw. Given the fact that a long vacation time starts next week and many people start early I expected few people but to my surprise there were 8 of us; which is great considering previous meetings have had between 8 and 12 people.

Agenda for the meeting was primarily to:
  • Work on the charter's objectives. We covered a little over the list we had and added new ones. We have enough to get started and will cover the remaining ones by the next meeting, hopefully.
  • Next meeting will be the first double-meeting, meaning a CoCo meeting followed by a general meeting. Venue is TBD and topic will be either one to be proposed by Alberto Balderas or one on project management by Masa
  • Learning. I talked about the project management triangles and showed a new polygon I call the lean-agile prism, which I am currently proposing and submitted and article about it to Agile Journal.

--- Español ---
La reunión del 25 de marzo tuvo lugar en Software Gurú otra vez. Muchas gracias a la SG por recibirnos! Por cierto que me gustan mucho sus oficinas un poco. Dado el hecho de que las vacaciones de semana santa comienzan la próxima semana y que muchas personas inician su vacación días antes, esperaba poca gente pero para mi sorpresa hubo 8 de nosotros, que es fabuloso teniendo en cuenta que las reuniones anteriores han tenido entre 8 y 12 personas.

La agenda fué primordialmente:
  • Trabajar en los objetivos de los estatutos. Hemos cubierto un poco más de la lista que teníamos y añadimos otros nuevos. Tenemos suficiente para empezar a trabajar y cubriremos los restantes en la próxima reunión, de ser posible.
  • La próxima reunión será la primer reunión doble: reunión del CoCo seguida de una reunión general. Lugar para el event está por determinarse y el tema será uno propuesto por Alberto Balderas o uno sobre la gestión de proyectos de parte de Masa.
  • Aprendizaje. Hablé acerca de los triángulos de la gestión del proyecto y mostré un nuevo polígono que yo llamo el prisma lean-agile, que estoy proponiendo en la actualidad y he presentado un artículo sobre el tema al Agile Journal.

Mar 19, 2010

Book review: Innovation Games

Everybody wants to better their businesses and make serious efforts to do so, but maybe we could be more effective is the efforts were less serious and more fun. Business communication is always challenging within the organization, with customers, providers, contractors, etc.. This is in part because they are not face-to-face and because most times one or more people who could add significant value take a passive role, in part because most times there is someone who enjoys dominating the meeting. End result is incomplete and biased information and decisions.

One main reason why games work is because (a) they are fun, and (b) they make everybody to actively participate. Hohmann's book is a great starting point. The games cover diverse needs and conducted properly add significant value (and save costs) to teams, projects, and entire enterprises.

Don't get serious... instead, start using this book!

Mar 18, 2010

Writing Spanish version of new Kanban book

Great news, I have been given the opportunity to translate David J Anderson's new book entitled "Kanban: Evolutionary change for you technology company". Needless to say I am thrilled by this.
:-)

Mar 17, 2010

Agile Training Game Board

Yesterday's talk at the BayAPLN meeting was on the Agile Training Game Board, proposed by David Chilcott from Outformations and Pat Reed from The Gap.

The basic concept is very simple. The same way that some of us actually use an agile dev board alike scrum at the training courses we offer, the ATGM shows the flow of stories from backlog to completion. What I think the contribution was is the emphasis on short timeboxes, 10 min in average and 20 min tops. This is particularly useful for training to executives because details are not necessarily important to them and they rather get the succinct version of things. They also encourage the thumbs-up-down-sideways feedback to consider stories Done. The board had extra columns at the end for value points and time, both important aspects to executives.

The talk included a stand-up game on self-organization to show how some concepts can be "explained" effectively and in shorter time through games.

Mar 10, 2010

Lean-Agile editor for the Software Guru magazine

Software Guru magazine invited me to be the editor for its lean-agile section and I gladly accepted :-)

This is a great opportunity to help in contributing more effectively to the penetration of lean-agile in Mexico and hopefully Latin America as well; and at the same time increase de presence of Mexico within the global lean-agile community.

Mar 9, 2010

The best way to fix the Prius sudden-acceleration problem is by not fixing it.

Did I get your attention? Good!
Tonight's news included yet another case of a Prius sudden-acceleration problem, this time in San Diego where the driver ended up being assisted by a police officer who used his police car to stop the Prius by driving in front of it to slow it down to a stop. Toyota's engineers are really scratching their heads over this problem and that particular Prius is now being analyzed very thoroughly in hope to figure out the cause.

So, how to fix this problem? Probably Toyota's engineers already thought about what I am about to propose but here it goes anyway: do not fix the problem! Okay so, before those of you who are still reading on what I think should be done is two things:
  • Verify the algorithm and its implementation. One very likely cause is the software that controls the car's acceleration and brake systems. If that is the case and engineers cannot find and fix the bug(s) then a better course of action would be to start from the beginning and (a) create a new algorithm, (b) analyze the algorthm quality as such, i.e. as an abstraction, (c) implement and test it simultaneously. Step (b) is extremely important because that is the best way to make sure the algorithm is robust. If we wait until implementation time to do testing then it will be harder to know if the problem is the algorithm itself or its implementation. I think this is the most viable, fast, and cost-effective course of action.
  • Unit level testing is not enough. One well know problem with measurement, from the physics standpoint, is that any attempt to measure something will affect what is being measured and therefore the measurement will be inexact. This means that once the algorithm and its implementation are robust it will be more effective to test at subsystem and system levels instead of inisolation.
  • Reproduce internal and external test conditions. The best way to reproduce a behavior is by recreating all conditions that triggered the undersired behavior. In addition to the car conditions this includes road, slope, weather, etc.
Building things anew might be a quicker and better way compared to trying to identify and fix what is wrong.

Mar 5, 2010

Presentaion on Lean-Agile and Innovation at the ITESM

This morning I gave a presentation on Lean-Agile and Innovation at the ITESM (Monterey Advanced Studies Institute of Technology), which was broadcasted to its 33 campuses nation-wide via satelite and was also webcasted.

I talked about the motivation to create better products and services considering Quality, Value, and Design, then moved on to talk about fundamentals of Lean and Agile. Last I talked about the advantage of using games to foster innovation and did examples on planning and estimating, group cohesion, and product analysis. More specifically I used planning poker, pair drawing, and prune-the-tree games.

The oopsy part was that I used all of the allocated time giving the presentation so Q&A had to be off-line. But it was possible to compensate at least with the local audience through 10 min. of Q&A.

BTW, the ITESM staff did an extraordinary job with logistics, production, etc., and the campus is impressive and functional.

Feb 26, 2010

MexAPLN Feb 2010 meeting

MexAPLN Feb 2010 meeting took place last night at the offices of Software Guru Magazine, a modern looking floor with cool artwork on the walls. Definitely a nice place to work. We had 10 people, three of them new with one of them from the city of Puebla. The central topic was to thumbs-up our charter's vision, mission, values, and principles and will be available before the end of this week. The discussion was rather short thanks to off-line work by 7 members in that most of the discussions took place before the meeting. We did a first-pass at the objectives and will be discussing them further as well as the other parts of the charter with the intention to finalize it at our March meeting.

There are numerous ideas and enthusiasm to start executing. I don't see a reason for MexAPLN to become of of the best!

Note: Software Guru has been making reference to a blog in Spanish written by Armando Peralta, check it out!

Feb 24, 2010

Second presentation at Congress in Mexico

This morning I gave a second presentation on lean-agile at Mexico's Congress aiming at medium and small industry. It was probably not the best day to schedule it because today is Mexic's Flag day and logistics got a bit complicated. The presentation was successful in that all attendants got very enthusiastic about lean-agile and the Q&A session lasted over 1/2 hour. There were three nice outcomes:

1. The Deputy I started doing all this with concluded is time to bring my ideas to the Secretary of the Economy. I will be meeting two of its members either next week or at my next business trip.

2. An entrepreneur wants us to talk about how lean-agile can help his new life-science business.

3. I was asked to give a presentation at the School of Economy at the National University of Mexico.

One very cool thing that also happened was a person from an indigenous area in Mexico was there and asked me about how to use lean-agile principles to help the community of craftsmen better their business. This is obviously a very different context but after hearing details on how they are working to create and sell their crafts I gave her some ideas and advice I hope will help them. Of course I would love to get a chance to go there for a few days and create a direct positive impact.

Feb 20, 2010

Effective employee performance assessment via lean-thinking

An eBay executive once asked me how I would go about doing individual employee performance review if lean-agile are team oriented. Effectively, in agile-lean thinking, we value team effort more than individual effort and consider individual rewards to hinder teamwork improvement. That doesn't mean, however, individual performance cannot be measured. As with enterprises, what we need to do is know what to measure.
We must use measurements that encourage the employee to improve teamwork through individual efforts for the benefit of the business and the customer. For example:

Measure sales executives in terms of the number of successful deliveries instead of the number of sales deals closed. That way the sales executive can't forget about the customer once the sales deal is closed. It is necessary to make sure the client gets what was paid for, and to do that it becomes necessary to work as a team with other groups in the company.

Measure developers in terms of how many stories got completed with good customer satisfaction instead of how many lines of code were implemented but rather . This developer has to interact with QA, the scrum master, the product owner, and customers to fully understand the stories and customer needs to ensure the code meets customer needs and has the quality required.

Measure QA engineers in terms of reduction of bugs in the code and increase of product quality instead of number of bugs found. That way the focus becomes building quality, as compared with showing how bad the product is. Activities are proactive, including higher interaction with customers and other teams instead of only the reactive activity of bug hunting.

Under such lean thinking the employees increase teamwork, quality, and customer satisfaction; and executives have an effective way to measure individual performance without fomenting individualistic work.

Feb 19, 2010

Some coming presentations

I will be in Mexico City the next two weeks (Feb 22 ~ Mart 5) and during that trip I will be giving the following presentations:
  • Feb 24, Congress building. I will be giving my second presentation on lean-agile, this time to a larger audience that includes industry leaders and some congressmen. It is very likely that it will be broadcasted through the Congress TV channel.
  • March 5, ITESM (Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey). I will give a lecture on lean-agile and innovation which will be broadcasted to its 33 campuses accross the country via satellite and internet.
Also, Feb 25 is the MexAPLN meeting at the Software Guru offices starting at 7:30 PM. Address is Temstocles 34, 3rd.floor, Col Polanco, Mexico City.

Feb 16, 2010

Jim Highsmith's talk: Beyond scope, schedule, and cost

I'm back home from the monthly BayAPLN meeting. This time we had Jim Highsmith give a talk entitled "Beyond Scope, Schedule, and Cost: rethinking performance measures for agile development". I read Jim's most recent book on agile project management and actually wrote a review on it (posted on by blog and on Amazon.com) and thought this talk was going to have as central point the new Agile Triangle as proposed on the book. I was very pleased that the presentation went beyond that. Jim exposed different ways in which we can measure performance by considering value and quality; and gave a good number of examples. He mentioned the importance on having a better standing point to evaluate and measure performance. A common factor on all of them is adaptability. The metrics must allow changes and be effective measuring under real-world variations. Quality could very well be the most important metric of all; but doesn't mean it should be the only metric to have.

Feb 5, 2010

Ikiru and why some lean-agile projects fail

Many years ago when I was in college I had the opportunity to see the movie Ikiru (生きる) by Akira Kurozawa. As a nice way to finish my work week, I just finished watched it again while having dinner. The story is around an elderly man, Watanebe-san, who is a public office head of department who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He immediately starts a desperate hunt to recover the 30 years he spend doing nothing as a public official, and after much soul searching he decides to help build a public park at a low income neighborhood. The park is finished shortly before his death, whose cause was unknown to his coworkers and family. At his funeral reception there are about a dozen other public officials of different ranks. It is there where an amazing display of bureaucracy is made clear, and after much drinking and discussing, those who remained at the room came to the realization of the reazon of Watanabe's death. Inspired by it they all determine to make their work as meaningful and really serve the public, only to get back to the same status quo once back to work.

There is a parallel to the story and why some lean-agile projects fail and, worse, why entire organizations fail in the adoption. Simply put, it is very easy to get back to the old habits. Many organizations claim to be doing agile, be it scrum, xp, kanban or whatever else, in reality they still do in good measure the same things they were doing before with minor modifications such as not sitting at their periodic meetings or using post-it notes for their use cases. This more often than not results in even worse dynamics than before the "adoption". If you want your organization to really adopt lean-agile then you have to fully embrace it and be willing to go through what it takes to really make the transition.

Feb 4, 2010

Cutter predictions 2010

Cutter published its 2010 predictions back in mid December, which includes a prediction by yours truly.

Agile-lean will become the new mainstream approach to project management and software development. Latin America will become aware of this and will start investing heavily on its adoption towards the end of the year in an attempt to bridge the IT gap between developing and developed countries.

You can see the full list at:
http://www.cutter.com/predictions/2010.html

Jan 26, 2010

Presentation at Mexico's Central Bank

Mexico's Central Bank (Banco de México) asked me to give them a presentation on Lean-Agile today. The experience was awesome starting with the venue. The Central Bank counts with a cluster of Colony Epoch buildings within the downtown Mexico City area (see photos for an example), which are as beautiful on the inside as they are from the outside. The presentation took place at a small but well-equiped auditorium and I had an audience of roughly 60 people. The audience was great and attentive during my 60-min talk, which consisted of Lean Agile fundamentals, case studies, hard data on agile benefits, reflections, and short speech about my services. I was then asked a series of good questions on some lean-agile aspects, on governance, and on comparison with other methodologies.



Next I had lunch with 11 executives and managers from the Bank at its private restaurant, which gave me the opportunity to have closer conversations with them and gave them the opportunity to ask lots of questions. To my surprise I received a limited-edition art book on Frida Kahlo (a famous Mexican surrealist painter) sponsored by the bank.

I have to admit the people I met and the bank itself exceeded my expectations and it would be great if I get to have the opportunity to work with them.


Jan 23, 2010

mute-deaf at Innovation Game online

I was all exited about the opportunity to participate on an online Innovation Game with folks from APLN and BayAPLN while still abroad on business. I logged in and proceeded to dial in to the conference from a telephone only to come to a halt because the conference call requires a "#" at the end of the code and the long distance service at the place where I am staying interprets it as a call to operator so there was no way I could reach the conference call.

But where there's a will there's a way. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see how effectively I could go about participating on the game while on a mute-deaf state. The game started and I felt I was at at real disadvange at first but soon after I realized that the entire environment provided an quite complete and friendly environment such that I soon forgot all about the audio feedback. For sure there were interesting conversations going on that I was missing, but the information I was getting through the game board itself, the text tab, and the actions tab were providing enough information for me to not only follow through but to also contribute!

Comparing the online experience with a face-to-face experience I would say that:
  • Face-to-face has the benefits of not only more effective verbal communication but also body language and higher encouragement for all stakeholders to participate.
  • Online has the benefits of counting on a log, making it easy for people to think more carefully about something or re-visit something without breaking the rhythm or distracting others.
Also, my being mute-deaf throughout the exercise proves the effectiveness of the playground experience that innovation games bring to the matter being discussed.

Jan 19, 2010

MexAPLN meeting: January 2010

The second meeting of the MexAPLN was way better than the first one. The meeting was at the IDS offices. IDS is one of the two oldest sw dev services businesses in Mexico. Its building has a beautiful view of the 4th and 5th highest mountains in all of the American Continent.

This being the second session it was obviously very org related and the main subjects were:
  • Alejandor Escamilla from Software Guru reported that they received over 400 responses from a member's blog posted on its website
  • 12 people (including myself) attended the meeting, 5 of them first-time. One person actually drove 180 miles one-way just to be there and headed back to his city of origin, Morelia, the next morning! ...and I used to think my 60-mile drive was significant.
  • We talked about what we need to do to be accepted as an actual chapter, about sponsorship and about logistics on meetings.
  • I reported that VersionOne showed a lot of enthusiasm about becoming an sponsor once we are ready for it
  • Main topic was Chartering. Since we were running out of time we decided to do some off-line work, discussing via web-conference to get more done and by the next meeting at which time we'll give it thumbs-up or down.
  • We decided to use Google groups instead of Yahoo groups as one of our comm tools.
  • Next meeting is at the offices or Software Guru.
Too much material for one session, of course but there was good progress.

Once this is done we'll have the foundation and a good start to become a relevant chapter.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

*** Important Note:
Paul Culling from VersionOne wrote a comment on the original posting, on which I used the workd "demands". My response is: Paul, I apologize if the word created some interpretation. One of the definitions of "demand" is "the requirement of work". The communication through Cesar has been quite clear and I informed at the meeting that VersionOne will be happy to become a sponsor, but first we have to prove that we are an active community of practitioners of agile and lean, and that is what is the requirement of work we have to do to earn your sponsorship.
I edited the posting in hope that you agree with the new wording, otherwise let me know and I'll be happy to rephrase it.
~Masa K Maeda