Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Design Thinking and Agile



Recently, while doing a course on Design Thinking from University of Virginia Darden School of Business, I had an Aha moment. While Design Thinking focuses on once off design of a product but Agile talks about continuous improvement. Then how do Design Thinking and Agile gel in an Agile-oriented organization?

Before diving into Design Thinking vs Agile, let’s take a step back. Is continuous improvement only way forward in an Agile organization? If the answer is NO then how innovation should be looked into an Agile organization?

In any organization, continuous improvement happens at two levels:

  • Incremental continuous improvement
  • Quantum jump or break though

Incremental continuous improvement results in numerous small improvements in a process or a product which add up over time and results in significant improvement.




As the name suggests quantum jump or breakthrough results in phenomenon improvement in a short duration of time.





Due to natural lethargic nature of organizations, productivity and efficient gained between two consecutive breakthroughs sag and distance between consecutive quantum jumps increases.






To keep the upward trend two quantum jumps and reducing the distance between quantum jumps any organizations need a fair intake of incremental continuous improvement.









An Agile organization may utilize Design Thinking as one of the tools for the quantum jump while incremental continuous increment keeps the lights on.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Random Thought - How to learn (sic!) Agile?

A lot of people asks - how can I learn Agile?

My answer is pretty simple to budding Agilest. Please do not learn Agile or do Agile but become Agile. No one becomes Agile by reading a couple of books or attending some training.  You need practice and more practice. Certainly to gain information (not knowledge) you need to do efforts by:

•    Classroom training (face to face or online);
•    One to one (face to face or online) coaching;
•    Participate in local meetups and Agile related community activities;
•    Books, blogs, videos, podcasts, and articles;
•    Participation in online discussions – Quora, Linkedin, facebook, slack channels, etc;
•    The best is on the work training by working with some team which is already working in Agile way; and

•    If you do not have access to Agile teams on the work, you can do small projects to mimic the Agile way of working e.g. daily routine, laying pavement in your backyard, etc.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Random Thoughts – Agile transformation

All trees are different but we want straight jacket solution for Agile transformation/ Architecture development.

Roots hold the tree and provide stability to any tree. Just look around, you will see hundreds of type of trees but roots are very similar. However, as we move upward toward stem to fruits variation in characteristics of the trees become very obvious.

Roots are like values on which organizations and people stabilize and provide the base of growth. Stems are like principles which grow on roots and help a tree to stand up high. Branched originating from the stem are like guidelines which have bigger variations among different trees. Next step is smaller branches - frameworks and methodologies which have bigger diversity even for a tree on which flowers and fruits make a tree to spread across the generations. However, have you noticed as you move from roots to flowers & fruits variation keep on increases?



Are trees representing organizations - having very similar values but increasing variation in conducting business?

If trees are organizations are so similar why do we seek one solution fit all answers for the Agile transformation? Why do we not focus on values and design a custom solution for the Agile transformation? Do we have a hangover of straight jacket ERP era where some divine expert knows all?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Team building exercise to help increase velocity and quality

Team building exercise to help increase velocity and quality

Are you looking for a team building exercise that will show how scrum works? Try this team building exercise to increase velocity and quality on your team. Try making paper airplanes as a team. If you have a team of 10 people, split the team into two teams. You will try to build as many paper airplanes as possible and also measure a distance that the planes will fly. Here's how it works:

Run 3 - 6 minute sprints to build as many paper airplanes as possible using plan, do, check, act (PDCA). You will take 1 minute to plan how you'll build the paper airplanes. You'll take 3 minutes to build as many paper airplanes as possible. Then you'll take 2 minutes to check basically a retrospective. What went well? What can be improved? Lastly, you'll act differently based on the answers from the check cycle.

In this exercise, there will be four roles:

  1. Checker - One person will check how many paper airplanes are built and can actually fly.
  2. Inspector - Another will work as part of the assembly process, but will also pay attention to the process itself and look for ways that the team can make better planes and speed up their production. 
  3. Builders - Everyone else will concentrate on building as many paper planes that can actually fly the distance in the assembly time allowed. 
  4. Timer - One person will focus on keeping the time of each cycle.
Each team will measure how many planes fly the measured distance after each sprint. You will notice by doing this exercise the team will make better paper airplanes after each sprint. By using PDCA which scrum was taken from you will build better paper airplanes because you're constantly looking for areas where you can improve.

Adopted from the book “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland