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On a Conference Diet

How many times during the past conference season have I told you that I gave my presentation somewhere on “Why agile teams have nothing to do with business agility”? A lot, huh? That’s exactly how it feels right now: The last few months have been awesome, but now I’m pretty tired from conferencing. That’s why I will be on a conference diet for the coming season.

The feedback on “Why agile teams have nothing to do with business agility” was absolutely sensational. In 100 percent of the cases people came to me after the talk because they completely found themselves and their company in what I said. In addition to keynotes at Lean Kanban North America, Scrum Gathering in Cape Town, London Lean Kanban Days and Agile Central Europe, most recently in Krakow, I gave many keynote speeches in companies, which very often gave the opportunity for further workshops to deal with improving their business agility. Of course, all of this plays together with my model of Flight Levels, which is very well received internationally at the moment. I’m surprised, I’m honored and I’m grateful that people in companies are using my input to find out how things could go better. Many realize that a ready-made framework does not help them in improving their business agility, but that every organization needs individual solutions. Thanks to the Enterprise Kanban Coach training program, there are now also a number of professionally outstanding people who approach their work with the right attitude and know how to apply the flight-level model in a meaningful way.

I will definitely continue to work on these topics and that is also the plan for the coming year: work through the experiences and think ahead based on them. I am of course still available for in-house talks and workshops

But I still have one more: On November 20, 2018 I will give the keynote at the Agile Leadership Nuremberg. I’ll be happy when I see you there!


Thanks to Oliver Finker for this awesome picture of me speaking at ACE Conference in Krakow.

Podcast: Flying at Portfolio Level

First, there was personal productivity. Then, everyone started talking about Agile teams. Today, it’s time to talk about Business Agility.

In a recent podcast I talked with Dima Moroz of  Kanbanize about how one does get an organization to do the right things at the right time. The trick is to move the most effective levers and if you focus on the whole organization, you better set that lever as high as possible. Only in rare cases does it depend on only one (agile) team whether real value is delivered to the customer. Most of the time this is a matter of agile interactions between multiple teams. However, Business Agility only thrives when someone on the portfolio-level has done some thinking about how just so much work enters the organization that projects are finished on a regular basis.

Dealing with constant disruption

I am regularly asked a question during customer visits or training sessions: How do you deal with constant disruption? I have already written about this, such as the blog article on white noise and we cover the topic also in the book Kanban Change Leadership. For many years, though, I more often recommend the “Dude of the Week” approach.

The initial situation. A team constantly receives requests to “quickly take care of” a small issue. Naturally, this causes a few problems:

  • You must interrupt work that has already been started, leading to an increased cycle time for this work.
  • Interruptions also cause adherence to delivery dates of the interrupted work to suffer.
  • The context-switch isn’t free either. Once you are mentally taken out of the work, it needs a certain amount of time to get back into it.
  • With every small piece of work that you “quickly” take care of, you start an expedite process since the short work takes over all other work.
  • Thus, a reprioritization is implemented.
  • In most cases, eventual WIP limits will also be exceeded.

All in all, not ideal if you really want to work flow-based. However, it also cannot be argued that someone must wait two weeks for a quick firewall adjustment, for example, just because you are in the middle of something big.

A solution. For such cases, what I have established in many organizations is the “Dude of the Week”. This is one or more persons (according to team size and degree of specialization) who only work on the small tasks for a period of time (a week, for example). So, 100% of the small requests are taken over by these people and worked on immediately. The other team members are able to dedicate themselves 100% without disruption to their large tasks and will not be constantly torn away from their work. If a small request actually turns out to be a large one, a ticket will be created and worked on through the normal channels. This is crucial, otherwise everyone would just request supposedly small tasks.

The improvement process. I also recommend that the “Dudes” collect the requests on Post-it notes. These Post-it notes will be analyzed in an improvement meeting. Perhaps you find that certain requests are made over and over and you can come up with a systemic solution, such as automating the task or changing the work process so that the request doesn’t come up as much in the future. That’s a similar approach to Blocker Clustering.

TWiG V1.4 released

Something is happening in the TWiG country. I have just released version 1.4 . You can download it from the TWiG website.

In addition to smaller bug fixes, there are two major changes: (1) Thanks to Florian Meyer, there is a facilitator’s guide, which greatly helps with the simulation setup and (2) the Realization Time Scatterplot has been modified – now we have days on the X axis.

I am more and more coming to believe that it was a great idea to release TWiG as a Creative Commons. I got a lot of valuable feedback and people have already started enriching the simulation with their own ideas and add-ons. These community updates will be included in a community folder as of the next release.

Thank you, to all contributors! I love community! 🙂