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Review Agile Conversations

Agile Conversations – Transform Your Conversations, Transform your Culture, written by Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick could be one of the missing pieces to make your agile transition work.

The book starts with some background information regarding the ideas and theories that underpin the conversational tools that will be used in the rest of the book. You get an explanation of the core techniques of the authors’ four R’s method. The four R’s representing the steps to help you learn from your conversations: record, reflect, revise and role play your conversation.

The rest of the book explains five different types of conversations. Conversations to become a high-performing team, conversation to reach more agility. These five conversations cannot be used randomly. You first have to build trust, using the trust conversation before you can start working on removing fear (fear conversation). Next you can start explaining the why by using the why conversation. The following step would be to agree on your commitments (commitment conversation) and finally we must have an accountability conversation.

TRUST conversation: we hold a believe that those we work with, inside and outside the team, share our goals and values.

  • Be vulnerable
  • Be predictable
  • Use TDD for people (the ladder of Inference) to align your story with that of someone else to build trust.

FEAR Conversation: we openly discuss problems in our team and its environment and courageously attack those obstacles.

  • Identify unsafe practices and habits (“how we do it here”): normalization of deviance
  • Overcome the tendency to jump to conclusions by using Coherence Busting (use a more curious, open attitude into the discussion; uncovering fears)
  • Jointly create a fear chart and mitigate these fears.

WHY conversation: we share a common, explicit purpose that inspires us.

  • Distinguish interest from positions
  • Combine advocacy and inquiry
  • Jointly design a solution

COMMITMENT conversation: we regularly and reliably announce what we will do and when.

  • Agree on the meaning of key elements.
  • Use a walking skeleton for a series of commitments and show progress
  • Compliance isn’t commitment
  • Define and agree on your commitments (agree on the meaning, agree on the next outcome to commit to, reaffirm the commitment).

ACCOUNTABILITY conversation: we radiate our intent to all interested parties and explain publicly how our results stack up against commitments.

  • Use theory Y to create a culture that fosters healthy accountability
  • Give briefings and back briefings (directed opportunism. Bungay’s 3 gaps: plans – actions – outcomes, alignment gap, effects gap, knowledge gap)
  • Radiate intent.

High-performing teams are characterized by high trust, low fear, clear why, definite commitment and solid accountability.

Conclusion. This book is not a simple read, but it’s a must read. It could be one of the missing piece to make your agile transition work. The book offers a conversational analysis model to record, reflect, revise and role play your conversations. In the book you get five different, but sequential, conversations to become a high performing team and reach more business agility. The trust, fear, why, commitment and accountability conversations are explained extensively with lots of recorded example conversations and reflections. It asks for discipline to read all those recorded conversations and use the reflection and conversation tools to find and understand the weak spots to improve these conversations. If you do, you have mastered the first step towards more agile conversations and ultimately agility. Following steps are practicing and practicing and practicing. Success!

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Additional reading

Difficult conversations by Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen

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The skilled Facilitator by Roger Schwarz

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Discussing the Undiscussable by Bill Noonan

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The Elephant in the Room by Diana McLain Smith

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The Responsibility Virus by Roger Martin

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’m Right, You’re Wrong, Now What?: Break the Impasse and Get What You need by Dr. Xavier Amador

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Nonviolent Communication: A language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg

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Review Introduction to Blockchain Technology

Quite often you hear the words blockchain, bitcoin or cryptocurrency, but do you really know what is meant with those words? Tiana Laurence wrote the book Introduction to Blockchain Technology – The many faces of blockchain technology in the 21st century to demystify these words.

The book is divided into 10 chapters. In the first three chapters you get an introduction to blockchain technology by explaining a blockchain, nodes, cryptocurrency, tokens, the meaning of distributed, and key parts of blockchain technology like cryptography, hash, ledgers, public witness and different consensus algorithms and structures of the network.

It all started with Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi is the pseudonym of the person or people who developed the bitcoin white paper (2008) and implemented the first blockchain database including the bitcoin. At this moment it is still not known who is behind this Satoshi. Satoshi left the blockchain scene in December 2010. A blockchain is a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server that holds a record of all transactions that have ever occurred on that network. Blockchain technology may be applied in areas where a middleman is needed to facilitate trust. Trust is essential for things such as the transfer of money, voting, land records, IP rights, and identity. Blockchain software can be programmed to take the place of the middleman by becoming the trusted record keeping system.

Some used terminology within the blockchain technology:

  • node is a computer that is connected to a blockchain network. It runs the software for the network and keeps the network healthy by transferring information across the network to other nodes.
  • hash function is used to secure all the data in a block of transactions. A hash is the output of this mathematical process that creates a string of numbers and letters of a fixed size; for bitcoin it is 32 bytes.
  • Public blockchains are open to anyone in the world to participate in the functions of the network, only limited by their access to the internet, hardware and electricity.
  • Privat blockchains only allow trusted parties to operate their blockchain.
  • Hybrid blockchains control who can participate and at what level of participation each node is allowed to operate.
  • A common way to connect to a blockchain network is to mine. A miner is a type of node that is adding transactions to new blocks. Miners compete to win the right to create a new complete block by solving a complex mathematical problem. Each miner will write their answer in the block header and if they are correct, they are then rewarded with cryptocurrency. Mining does three things: creating new cryptocurrency, confirming transactions and securing the blockchain history.
  • cryptocurrency is a type of digital cash and is a bearer instrument.
  • Not all blockchain networks have cryptocurrency, but all networks allow for the issuance of some kind of token. Tokens are flexible and may not be bearer instrument. Tokens are self-authenticating data packets and represent a rare digital bit of information.
  • Ledger is a general term for describing records used to account for something and ‘distributed’ means that the record is kept in more than one location.
  • Blockchain technology is an extension of public witness concept (A public witness is a person that is attesting to a fact or event) in that it spreads knowledge, encourages persistence of information, and allows each individual node to make a choice with the information that they are given. Primary use cases of blockchain technology are tokenization, digital identity, transfer of value and decentralized applications.
  • Cryptography is the encryption of data so that it is only known by the intended parties. Blockchains use asymmetric encryption (public-key cryptography), to secure the transfer of cryptocurrency from one address (public-key) to another. A private key lets you decode messages sent to you over public channels. A public key allows anyone to send you a private message over a public channel.

consensus algorithm is a code that governs how a blockchain operates. It sets the rules that all participants must follow to proceed transactions. Consensus algorithms create a network structure and process that allows a group of independent systems to agree on a single version of the truth. Different types of consensus algorithms are:

  • Proof of Work
  • Proof of Stake
  • Delegated Proof of Stake
  • Proof of Authority
  • Proof of Elapsed Time
  • Proof of Capacity and Proof of Space
  • Proof of Burn
  • Hyperledger Fabric

The chapters 4 to 9 explains the many faces of blockchain. First you get insights into the key blockchain networks and technologies like Bitcoin, Hyperledger and Ethereum. Next you get different second-generation applications of blockchain technology like Smart contracts, tokens and decentralized autonomous Organizations (DAO). In the following chapters the author shows what can happen next if you combine these applications with online or protected identity, IoT, AI or marketplaces. How can blockchain influence the world economy by looking at supply chain, cross-border money transfer and financial change agents. In line with the previous chapter you get an overview of new frontiers in blockchain and business e.g. digital fiat currency, disrupters in banking, blockchain and insurance and an explanation of intellectual property rights and providence. The last chapter focusses on blockchain and people by looking at Estonia’s e-Residency and (smart city) projects in China and the financial capitals of the world.

  • Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is categorized within the blockchain technology but has three fundamentally distinct differences. There is no cryptocurrency, the nodes are known (private network) and the development is directed.
  • smart contract acts as an online contract between two or more parties. A smart contract is created by developers and enforced with Boolean logic, mathematics, and encryption. Smart contracts have automated performance and verification. The code in the contract would execute once a pre-specified action or event occurred.
  • Decentralized applications (DApps) are applications that run on a peer-to-peer network instead of a single system. DApps can be tools, programs, games, and more that connect users and provide directly. DApps expand smart contracts beyond simple A-to-B value transfers.
  • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) are sophisticated smart contracts that have things like voting rights of members.
  • A decentralized marketplace is a peer-to-peer platform that allows buyers and sellers to interact directly without involving a third party. A centralized marketplace is a platform with central authority.
  • Digital fiat currencies are a digital representation of the country’s fiat currency, which will be backed by financial reserves of the country such as forex and gold.

The last chapter of the book is dedicated to vulnerabilities, community fractures and feuds, attacks, hacks, and fraud and scams. Both private and public blockchains can be manipulated and trusting blindly may well lead to disaster.

ConclusionThe book gives a good overview of the blockchain technology, but it is difficult to read. The concepts discussed in the first chapters are key and could use some more explanation. In line with the title – The many faces of … there are many examples of different blockchain systems and applications. A little bit too much I would say. The book is also mandatory reading for the EXIN Blockchain Foundation certification. At the end of each chapter you get some sample exam questions to test your own knowledge. I missed a glossary at the end and that could be beneficial to candidates too.

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Review Blockchain Foundation Courseware

The Blockchain Foundation courseware book is created by Expo Luppes. It contains a copy of the complete Blockchain foundation slide deck, one EXIN sample exam including the rationale and the Preparation Guide EXIN Blockchain Foundation. If I look at the slide deck, I would expect the same figures as been used in the book but that’s not the case. Could be an advantage but for those who want to get the certification it could be confusing too. The set-up of the deck is more or less in line with the chapters of the book. In the slide deck you will get an extensive list of addition reading (mostly web pages).

To order Blockchain Foundation Courseware: Van Haren Publishing

Additional reading

Satoshi Nakamoto, A peer-to-peer electronic cash system, retrieved from  https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

Klaus Schwab, The fourth Industrial Revolution 

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Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain revolution: How the technology behind Bitcoin is changing money, business, and the world: 

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Don Tapscott and David Ticol, The naked corporation: how the age of transparency will revolutionize business

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Review People Over Process

51Y04ZWZE5L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Michael K. Levine wrote with People Over Process – Leadership for Agility a very pragmatic and down to earth book about leadership and agile projects.

The classic formulation of agile in the Agile Manifesto has no role for leadership. In fact, it is explicitly anti-leadership, encouraging self-managed teams, reliance on motivated individuals, leaving them alone and trusting them to get the job done. Furthermore, neither agile or scrum contemplates how the agile team should be connected to a larger organization and to external partners who will likely have differing development processes and cadences.

The book is divided into four sections. The first section introduces facilitative leadership for agility and introduces the facilitative leadership triangle rigor, efficiency and alignment (REA). Next we get an explanation of the three major frameworks (architecture, plan and team structure) and the meetings to create them. In the third section we get an overview of some routine meetings like the daily scrum, demos, governance meetings and teleconferences. The final section focusses on project retrospectives.

You could also say that the book contains a theoretical explanation of the facilitative leadership model and a business novel where we follow a consultant Mary to help Pacifica Bank with their agile project. By following Mary, we see the facilitative leadership model in a ‘real life’ case to make it really easy to understand the theory. Theory and the Pacifica case alternate.

As stated, the facilitative leadership model contains the triangle rigor, efficiency and alignment (REA). And in the middle, we see the three major frameworks (architecture, plan and team structure) and meetings to create them. See the Quick Reference Card leadership for agilty.

Rigor: Clearly define each decision to be made, gathering and considering facts, thoroughly considering options, and making clear decisions. Making good decisions: right talent, experience, skills, and roles, team composition, options considered and evidence for decisions.

Efficiency: Respecting the time of all team members as a valuable commodity not to be wasted. Respect for people’s time: balance “Agile” and “Planful” management, frameworks to provide context, extensive preparation for meetings and tools and techniques.

Alignment: Teams must work in a way that gets the best input from all members, and gains understanding and commitment around common goals, schedules, methods, and decisions/directions of all kinds. Heads in game and moving together: right involvement, information available, input enables, value consensus and someone to decide.

Extraordinarily well-prepared and conducted meetings use the following pattern:

  • Preparing for a meeting: set a simple and achievable objective, lay out a path to achieve the objective (agenda, activities), roles and responsibilities, the physical setting, the paraphernalia, and ensure alignment on the way in.
  • Conducting a meeting: make the path visible and start down it and control the dialogue.
  • Concluding a meeting: checking for alignment, agree on communication of results, and set immediate next steps.

Architecture simulation meeting (event). The architecture simulation event is a proven mechanism to discover and build alignment around architecture. It can be used in many situations and at various stages of a project. It puts the focus on the software and the related business processes in a powerful way by using different scenarios. It’s a participative learning event.

Project Planning meeting. The project planning meeting is a proven mechanism to develop an effective project plan. Several subgroups are brought together around a timeline from the planning meeting through productive use to plan forward and backward.

Team configuration meeting. The team configuration meeting helps teams to adopt existing mechanisms in their organization (silos). Next, team members, their managers, and stakeholders work together to define specifics for each varying initiative (connectors, bridges between the silos) and finally, the team members (extended) retrospect and adjust.

QRC (Leadership for agility, 200725) v1.0To download: QRC (Leadership for agility, 200725) v1.0

Throughout the Pacifica case we get 25 leadership and 15 meeting tips. To mention a few:

  • By failing to prepare for a meeting, you are preparing to fail – Ben Franklin (Agile is not an excuse not to plan!)
  • Be sure the meeting participants at all times understand the meeting path, and where they are on that path
  • Bring vendor partners into your agile projects as soon as you know they will be an important part of the solution
  • the “self-governed team” agile principle is a valuable but incomplete concept. Applying hard-earned expertise to team configuration and process and exercising the power to mobilize an organization matter
  • Use the RAE test when deciding on an idea. Would it have impact on the rigor, is it needed for alignment, is it efficient. If the answer is no, don’t do it
  • Integrating events give much greater routine focus to ensure completion, and take the place of demo prep in many scrum projects
  • If you plan on sharing an important decision with the team for rigor and alignment, don’t be satisfied with a half-hearted attempt
  • When the going gets tough, double down on in-person relationships
  • Write the major elements of the meeting objectives and the agenda up on the wall so participants have a visual shared guide
  • Get people away from the protection/separation of a big table
  • Have the right time of party
  • The earlier in project planning that you can set specific dates for integrating events the better
  • When a topic is raised in a meeting that doesn’t quite fit, take it offline
  • it is very difficult to both participate in and facilitate a complex exercise as a project retrospective.

And as stated many, many more.

The book ends with tips to use tools like the Kaizen A3 – one page problem solving tool, agenda, alignment checking tools (fist of five, thermometer), dot voting, evaluation matrix, failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), five whys, more of/less of, nominal group technique, tool advertisement and two by two matrix.

On the corresponding website www.TheTalesofAgility.com  you can find some information about the author’s Lean and Agile Software trilogy. People over Process is the third book. The two other books are: A Tale of Two Systems: Lean and Agile Software Development for Business Leaders and A Tale of Two Transformations: Bringing Lean and Agile Software Development to Life.

 Conclusion. A pragmatic, down to earth book when using agile ways of working and the case makes clear that scrum is not the magic bean or silver bullet for all projects. The book offers the facilitative leadership model for agility based on rigor, alignment and efficiency around major meetings or events like architecture simulation, project planning and team configuration to support you in having more successful projects.

 In my opinion the author mixed up the concept of minimum viable product (MVP) and minimum marketable product (MMP). See my blog for a short explanation on MVP and MMP. And, if I am correct there is not such a thing as a Scrum release planning. Also, Scrum doesn’t talk about User Stories but backlog items and that will solve some issues in the book too. But these are minor things. I would say this book is definitely worth reading!

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Review True lean

9789082365245-480x600With the book True lean – Your guide to the fundamentals connecting purpose, process and people written by Rudy Gort you get a concise but complete and clear overview of and insight into lean. What is it, what can you do with it and how did it come about?

The book is divided into three parts. The first part examines the origin of lean in order to understand the philosophy behind lean. We get a brief overview of a number of approaches (including agile, BPR, co-creation, kaizen, supply chain cooperation, operational excellence, Scrum, Six Sigma, TQM) and how these approaches relate to the lean philosophy. In the second part, the main elements of lean are explained using the house-of-lean and larded with many practical examples and literature references. The last part elaborates on the power of lean.

Much of lean originates in Japan and more specifically at the factories of the Toyoda family. In chronological order:

  • Yōzan (harunori) Uesugi (1751-1822) used the philosophy of tell them, show them, let them do it, and praise them
  • Sakichi Toyoda (1867-1930) puts jidoka in the front. Quality must be an integral part of the process, the process must automatically stop in case of errors (andon), and the system must be mistake proof (poka-yoke). In addition, Sakichi Toyoda believed that his company should contribute to society (purpose).
  • Kiichiro Toyoda (1894-1952): was of the opinion that one should think beyond personal interests and should think in the organization’s long-term interests and take personal responsibility for problems.
  • Eiji Toyoda (1913-2013): build the new car factory based on just-in-time concept (JIT) and a kanban system.
  • Taiichi Ohno (1912-1990): was the man behind the Toyota Production System (TPS); one-piece flow and pull, management by sight, and 100% operable rate.
  • Ass sources of inspiration they used Henri Ford’s flow principle and operational excellence and Edwards Deming’s improvement cycle PDCA, extended by Toyota with “Go and See” resulting in an incremental continuous improvement process (kaizen).
  • Fujio Cho, a student of Taiichi Ohno, develops the house metaphor.
  • John Krafcik (1988) introduces the word ‘lean’.

Lean is the label that researchers have put on the way of thinking and acting that Toyota encountered. The underlying culture is called the Toyota Way and is based on continuous improvement (challenge, kaizen, Genchi Gembutsu) and respect for people (respect, teamwork), the heart and soul of the lean management system.

To position the principles or main elements of lean, the house of lean is used as a metaphor, in which the firm base to build on stands for purpose, the roof stands for value, the foundation for stability, the two pillars for built-in quality and timeliness and the residents of the house for behavior (see also the quick reference card QRC Lean). QRC (True Lean, 200717) v1.0To downloaden: QRC (True Lean, 200717) v1.0

Purpose (firm base) or long-term mission gives people a sense of importance, direction, opportunity and performance and creates solidarity within the organization and, therefore, has a strong, binding function.

The goal is to create value for the customer, or in a broader sense, the general satisfaction of all stakeholders. To achieve this, an organization must have an inspiring vision of the future. It is the customers who determine how well the organization is doing. They determine the organization’s viability.

Stability (foundations) stands for predictability and reliability and stable and standardized processes. By means of visual management by using scoreboards and feedback mechanisms to stay on course and to make deviations visible, helps to create an evened-out workload. Through the five steps of workplace organization with 5S: sort (seiri), set in order (seiton), shine (seiso), standardize (seiketsu) and sustain (sitsuke) the workplace can be organized logically and create ownership of it. In addition, uniformity can be created by leveling out the volume and the product mix (heijunka). Mura stands for unevenness, fluctuation, variability, muri for overload or overburden and muda for overcapacity or waste.

Built-in quality and timeliness (the pilars) represent jidoka and just-in-time. Jidoka or built-in quality ensures that problems are not passed on further in the process, is much more effective and less expensive than inspections and repairing quality problems at the end of the line (zone control). It is not a technique but a principle. Prevention is better (poka-yoke). Just-in-time (JIT) means that every process only produces what is needed by the next process and does so in a continuous flow. JIT includes three elements: takt time (the rhythm at which a consumer consumes something), continuous flow (making and moving one item at a time to match the takt time) and a pull system (to guide an uninterrupted flow and avoid overproduction). Frequent use is made of techniques such as the spaghetti diagram, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), kanban, status board, and obeya.

Behavior (the residents of the house) can be characterized by five aspects. Everyone must set ambitious goals (improvement kata, coaching kata). Kaizen, to improve business operations continuously, and always driving for innovation and evolution. “What I do today, I can do better tomorrow”. Genchi genbutsu: going back to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions, build consensus and achieve goals at our best speed. (facts over data, analysis, 5x why). Respect by learning to understand each other and finally self-organization needs to be stimulated (teamwork).

The last part describes the power of lean. How it can be done faster, better and cheaper without a trade-off between quality and productivity and with unsurpassed flexibility. By reducing lead time and focusing on flexible production lines, quality, customer relationships, productivity and resource and space utilization are all improved. Only the employees themselves can continuously improve their work through commitment and remain motivated as a result. In addition, lean increases the innovation ability of the organization through effective, organization-transcending way of sharing knowledge with the various suppliers and partners and by creating designs and processes that support both high quality and easy production (design for assembly). Finally, the true power of competitiveness and lean is a learning organization. Lean is based on emergent learning in the most efficient way possible. A learning organization does not only learn. Above all, it learns how to learn using short-cyclic learning, knowledge management (explicit, tangible or written knowledge, but more about implicit knowledge gained through experience) and mentor-apprentice relationships.

The book concludes with a quote from the author himself “Lean is not a destination, but a way of traveling.”

Conclusion. A very readable and freshly designed book with many references to articles, videos (using QR codes) and other, sometimes groundbreaking books about lean or lean concepts. To get a concise but complete picture about lean – what is it, what can you do with it and how did it come about? – this is a great starting point and I highly recommend it.

Youtube: How Toyota changed the way we make things

To order (managementbook.nl): True lean – Your guide to the fundamentals connecting purpose, process and people

To order (bol.com): True lean – Your guide to the fundamentals connecting purpose, process and people

Recensie Lean basis

9789082365238-480x600Met het boek Lean basis – Een holistische benadering geschreven door Rudy Gort krijg je in vogelvlucht een helder overzicht van en inzicht in lean. Wat is het, wat kan je ermee en hoe is het ontstaan?

Het boek is opgebouwd in drie delen. Het eerste deel gaat in op de herkomst van lean om daarmee de filosofie achter lean te kunnen begrijpen. Ook krijgen we daar een korte beschouwing van een aantal werkwijzen (o.a. agile, BPR, co-creatie, kaizen, ketensamenwerking, operational excellence, Scrum, Six Sigma, TQM) en hoe deze werkwijzen zich verhouden tot de lean-filosofie., In het tweede deel worden de hoofdelementen van lean uitgelegd aan de hand van het lean-huis gelardeerd met vele praktische voorbeelden en literatuurverwijzingen. Het laatste deel, gaat in op de kracht van lean.

Veel van lean vindt haar oorsprong in Japan en meer specifiek bij de fabrieken van de familie Toyoda. In chronologische volgorde:

  • Yōzan (harunori) Uesugi (1751-1822) verkondigde de filosofie van vertel het ze, laat het zien, laat het ze doen, en waardeer ze.
  • Sakichi Toyoda (1867-1930) stelde jidoka Kwaliteit moet ingebouwd worden in het proces, en het proces moet ondoordringbaar gemaakt worden voor fouten (poka-yoke), mocht er dan toch nog een fout optreden dan moet men direct stoppen (andon). Daarnaast was Sakichi Toyoda van mening dat zijn bedrijf een bijdrage moest leveren aan de maatschappij (purpose).
  • Sakichi Toyada’s zoon Kiichiro Toyoda (1894-1952): was van mening dat men verder moest denken dan het persoonlijke belang, en moest denken in het langetermijnbelang van de organisatie en persoonlijke verantwoordelijkheid te nemen voor problemen.
  • Kiichiro Toyoda’s neef Eiji Toyoda (1913-2013) kreeg de opdracht om een nieuwe autofabriek te bouwen gebaseerd op just-in-time-concept (JIT) en ondersteund door een kanban-systeem.
  • Taiichi Ohno (1912-1990) is de man achter het Toyota Production System (TPS); one-piece-flow en pull, management by sight, en 100% operable rate.
  • Als inspiratiebronnen speelden Henri Ford en Edward Deming een belangrijke rol. Henri Ford met zijn flow principe en operational excellence aanpak en Edwards Deming’s verbeter cyclus PDCA die door Toyota uitgebreid is met ‘Go and See’ resulterend in een incrementeel continu verbeter-proces (kaizen).
  • Fujio Cho, een leerling van Taiichi Ohno ontwikkelt de huis metafoor.
  • Uiteindelijk is het John Krafcik die in 1988 het woord lean introduceert.

Lean is het label die onderzoekers hebben geplakt op de manier van denken en doen die men bij Toyota tegenkwam. De achterliggende cultuur heet de Toyota Way en is gebaseerd op permanente verbetering (challenge, kaizen, Genchi Gembutsu) en respect voor mensen (respect, teamwork), het hart en ziel van het lean-managementsysteem.

Om de principes of hoofdelementen van lean te plaatsen wordt gebruik gemaakt van een huis als metafoor (lean-huis) waarbij de ondergrond staat voor purpose, het dak voor waarde, het fundament voor stabiliteit, de twee pijlers voor kwaliteit en tijdigheid en de bewoners van het huis voor gedrag (zie ook de quick reference card QRC Lean).QRC (Lean basis, 200716) v1.0Downloaden: QRC (Lean basis, 200716) v1.0

Purpose (de ondergrond) of reden van bestaan geeft de medewerkers een gevoel van betekenis, richting, kansen en prestatie. De drijfveer voor het verwezenlijken van deze droom zorgt voor saamhorigheid bindende organisatie en heeft derhalve een sterke, bindende functie.

Het doel is waarde (het dak) creëren voor de klant, of in bredere zin algehele tevredenheid bij alle betrokkenen. Daarover moet de organisatie een visie vormen, een toekomstbeeld dat inspirerend werkt. Het zijn de klanten die beoordelen hoe goed de organisatie het doet. Zij bepalen de levensvatbaarheid van de organisatie.

Stabiliteit (fundament) staat voor voorspelbaarheid, betrouwbaarheid en standaardiseren van processen. Middels visueel management (afwijkingen zichtbaar maken, scoreborden, feedbackmechanisme) is een gelijkmatige werklast te creëren. Middels de vijf stappen van werkplekorganisatie (5S) bestaande uit scheiden (seiri), schikken (seiton), schoonmaken en inspecteren (seiso), standaardiseren (seiketsu) en stimuleren (sitsuke) is de werkplek logisch te ordenen en eigenaarschap erover te creëren. Daarnaast is gelijkmatigheid te creëren door het nivelleren van het werkvolume en de productmix (heijunka). Hierbij staat mura voor ongelijkmatigheid, fluctuatie, variabiliteit, muri voor overbelasting en muda voor verspilling.

Kwaliteit en tijdigheid (de pijlers) staan voor jidoka en just-in-time. Jidoka of inbouwde kwaliteit zorgt dat problemen niet verder doorgeschoven worden en is veel effectiever en minder duur dan inspecties en reparaties van kwaliteitsproblemen aan het einde van de lijn (zone control). Het is geen techniek maar een principe. Voorkomen is beter (poka-yoke middelen). Just-in-time (JIT) houdt in dat ieder proces alleen wat nodig is produceert voor het volgende proces, en dat in een continue stroom. JIT omvat de drie elementen takttijd (hoe vaak iets gemaakt moet worden om aan de afname-eisen van de klant te voldoen), continue flow (het maken en verplaatsen van één item tegelijk om te matchen met de takttijd) en een pull-systeem om een onderbroken flow te begeleiden en overproductie te voorkomen. Hierbij wordt veelvuldig gebruik gemaakt van technieken zoals het spagetidiagram, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), kanban, statusbord, en de obeya (ruimte met visuele borden).

Gedrag (de bewoners van het huis) kan middels een vijftal aspecten gekarakteriseerd worden. Iedereen moet uitdagende doelen stellen (verbeter-kata, coaching-kata). Kaizen, het continu, gestaag verbeteren door nieuwe ideeën, doorgaan voor innovatie en ontwikkeling, en te weigeren om door traditie te worden beperkt. “Wat ik vandaag doe, kan ik morgen beter”. Genchi genbutsu is het teruggaan naar de bron om de waarheden te vinden en consensus te krijgen om snelle beslissingen te nemen (feiten boven data, analyse, 5x waarom). Respect door elkaar te leren begrijpen en tenslotte moet zelforganisatie gestimuleerd worden (teamwork).

Het laatste deel beschrijft de kracht van lean. Hoe het sneller, beter en goedkoper kan zonder een trade-off tussen kwaliteit en productiviteit en met een onovertroffen flexibiliteit. Door doorlooptijden te verkorten en te focussen op het flexibel houden van de productielijnen kan de kwaliteit verhoogd, de relatie met de klant, en de productiviteit en het gebruik van middelen en ruimte verbeterd worden. Alleen medewerkers kunnen hun eigen werk – door betrokkenheid – continu verbeteren en zo gemotiveerd blijven. Daarnaast vergroot lean het innovatievermogen van de organisatie middels effectieve, organisatie-overstijgende kennisdeling met leveranciers en partners en door het creëren van ontwerpen en processen die zowel hoge kwaliteit als een soepele productie ondersteunen  (design for assembly). Tenslotte is de ware kracht van concurrerend vermogen en die van lean een lerende organisatie. Lean is namelijk geënt op zo efficiënt mogelijk spontaan leren (emergent learning). Een lerende organisatie leert niet alleen, ze leert ook hoe ze moet leren waarbij gebruik gemaakt wordt van kort-cyclisch leren, kennismanagement (expliciete, tastbare of beschreven kennis maar vooral impliciete, stilzwijgende ervaringskennis) en meester-gezelrelaties.

Het boek sluit af met een quote van de auteur zelf “Lean is geen bestemming, het gaat om de manier van reizen.”

Conclusie. Een vlot leesbaar en fris opgemaakt boek met vele verwijzingen naar artikelen, filmpjes (middels QR-codes) en andere, soms baanbrekende boeken over lean of lean concepten. Om een beknopt maar compleet beeld te verkrijgen over lean – wat is het, wat kan je ermee en hoe is het ontstaan? – is dit een prima startpunt en kan ik het warm aanbevelen.

Bestellen (managementboek.nl): Lean basis – Een holistische benadering

Bestellen (bol.com): Lean basis – Een holistische benadering

Youtube: How Toyota changed the way we make things

Recensie Zet het op een bierviltje

9789089654779-480x600Michiel van der Molen heeft ondertussen een aantal boeken over o.a. business cases, batenmanagement en opdrachtgeverschap geschreven en vele organisaties geholpen met vraagstukken binnen deze onderwerpen. Ondertussen weet hij steeds helderder de essentie hiervan te benoemen en te beschrijven. Zie zijn laatste boekje Zet het op een bierviltje – Verandering vraagt om eenvoud waar dit alles tezamen komt.

Het boekje bestaat uit twee delen. In het eerste deel krijg je vijf manieren waarop je een bierviltje kan gebruiken om ieder type of soort project eenvoudiger te maken.

Het tweede deel gaat meer in detail in op deze vijf wegen naar eenvoud. Voor iedere weg krijgen we eerst een valkuil, inclusief voorbeelden, hoe we het onnodig ingewikkeld kunnen maken, vervolgens een toelichting op de te bewandelen weg naar eenvoud en aansluitend het voordeel dat het oplevert om het op een bierviltje samen te vatten. Iedere weg wordt tenslotte puntsgewijs kort samengevat.recensie bierviltje

De vijf wegen naar eenvoud:

  1. Ga terug naar het waarom. Wat we nodig hebben is een kort en krachtig antwoord op de waaromvraag (werkt verbindend en daardoor kom je makkelijker samen tot oplossingen en detailbeslissingen)
  2. Neem zorgen serieus. Zorgen delen geeft verbinding en realiteitszin (geef ruimte aan de schaduwkanten, maak een zorgen-top 3, zoek de eigenaar)
  3. Stel duidelijke prioriteiten. Prioriteiten stellen geeft focus en maakt decentrale besluitvorming mogelijk (maak duidelijk dat prioriteiten noodzakelijk zijn, prioriteiten vaststellen, prioriteiten benoemen)
  4. Creëer eigenaarschap. Wie is het meest verantwoordelijk voor het succes en hoe geef je de daarbij passende invloed (werk aan gezamelijke focus, geef de juiste mensen invloed)
  5. Blijf communiceren. Om een bijdrage te kunnen leveren, moeten mensen begrijpen wat de bedoeling is (het resultaat: wat kunnen we als het klaar is, het effect: datgene waar het uiteindelijk om begonnen is, het waarom: het hogere doel, het symbool: een krachtig beeld dat op het netvlies blijft staan)

Conclusie. Een prettig en vlot leesbaar boekje dat fraai is opgemaakt en dat de titel eer aan doet. Duidelijke handvatten en voorbeelden wijzen de weg naar de essentie. Persoonlijk ben ik het meest geportretteerd van de vijfde weg waarbij het resultaat, het effect en het waarom in tekst en gevisualiseerd middels een symbool op een bierviltje worden gezet. Dat maar veel projecten, traditioneel of agile, dit bierviltje mogen creëren!

Bestellen (managementboek.nl): Zet het op een bierviltje

Bestellen (bol.com): Zet het op een bierviltje


Review: Team Topologies

515ymmKuFqL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Many organizations are struggling with their business agility transformation. One of the reasons is the way they have organized their teams. The focus was probably on efficiency and if these teams start to use agile ways of working, this doesn’t make the organization agile. The book Team Topologies – Organizing business and technology teams for fast flow, by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais, will help you to design a team organization structure that helps you to become more agile. Using their ideas will help to overcome some obstacles for fast flow. E.g. pushing against Conway’s law, software that is too big for teams, confusing organization design options, teams that are pulled in many directions, painful re-organizations every few years, blocked flow, too many surprises and disengaged teams.

The book is divided into three parts. Part I focusses on teams as the means of delivery. Part II explains team topologies that work for flow and part III elaborates on evolving team interactions for innovation and rapid delivery.

QRC (Team topologies, 200525) v1.0To download: QRC (Team Topologies, 200525) v1.0

The book explains the seven core ideas behind team topologies:

  1. Conway’s law. “Organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” Conway’s law tells us that an organization’s structure and the actual communication paths between teams persevere in the resulting architecture of the system built
  2. Team first. Start with the team for effective software delivery. There are multiple aspects to consider and nurture: team size, team lifespan, team relationships, and team cognition. Organizational groupings should follow Dunbar’s number, beginning with around 5-8 people, then increasing to around 15 people, then 50, then 150, then 500, and so on. Cognitive load: “The total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory.” Restrict team responsibilities to match the maximum team cognitive load. The following three different kinds of cognitive load are explained:
    • Intrinsic cognitive load – relates to aspects of the task fundamental to the problem space
    • Extraneous cognitive load – relates to the environment in which the task is being done
    • Germane cognitive load – relates to aspects of the task that need special attention for learning or high performance.
  1. Four fundamental topologies. The four fundamental team topologies are explained including expected behavior and capabilities:
    • Stream-Aligned Team: a team aligned to the main flow of business change, with cross-functional skills mix and the ability to deliver significant increments without waiting on another team (some would call these teams “product or feature teams” but talking about streams makes more sense)
    • Platform team: a team that works on the underlying platform supporting stream-aligned teams in delivery. The platform simplifies otherwise complex technology and reduces cognitive load for teams that use it (a good platform is “just big enough”)
    • Enabling team: a team that assists other teams in adopting and modifying software as part of a transition or learning period
    • Complicated-Subsystem Team: a team with a special remit for a subsystem that is too complicated to be dealt with by a normal stream-aligned team or platform team. Optional and only used when really necessary.
  1. Team interaction modes. The primary interaction modes for the 4 fundamental team topologies are:
    • Collaboration: working closely together with another team
    • X-as-a Service: consuming or providing something with minimal collaboration
    • Facilitating: helping (or being helped by) another team to clear impediments
  1. Organizational sensing. Expect to adapt and evolve your organization structure.
  2. Topology evolution. An organization should expect to see different kinds of interactions between different kinds of teams at any given time as the organization responds to new challenges
  3. Team API. A description of the entire interactions with the team: code, versioning, wiki and documentation, practices and principles, communication, work information and other.

Combine a team-first approach with Conway’s lay, the four fundamental topologies, team interaction modes, topology evolution, and organization sensing. Get started: begin with the team, identify streams, identify the thinnest viable platform, identify capability gaps, and practice team interactions.

Conclusion. I would say a great book for those who are designing their agile transition. This book will help to understand where you have to think about when creating your team topology. You get lots of case studies and industry examples.

To order (Maangementboek.nl): Team Topologies

To order (bol.com): Team Topologies

To order (Amazon.com): Team Topologies

0-2Get the printed pre-cut card modeling shapes for team types and team interactions. To order: pre-cut card modeling shapes


2020-06-30--MB80-coverAs a addition to the book Team Topologies a mini-book: Organization Dynamics with Team Topologies was published. This mini-book contains 6 articles by the authors of Team Topologies – Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais – that cover key aspects of modern organization dynamics.

The articles:

  • How to break apart a monolith without destroying your team
  • Forget monoliths vs. microservices. Cognitive load is what matters
  • Why teams fail with Kubernetes — and what to do about it
  • How to find the right DevOps tools for your team
  • Why you should hire DevOps enablers, not experts
  • Are poor team interactions killing your DevOps transformation?

To download (for free) this e-book: Organization Dynamics with Team Topologies

Recensie Agile Design

9789492618375-480x600Een van de principes van het Agile Manifesto luidt: “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams”. Het bestaansrecht van een design wordt echter door veel organisaties in twijfel getrokken. Op het moment dat meerdere teams aan één product werken wordt het hebben van een globaal ontwerp al duidelijker maar ook indien in de ideale situatie slechts één autonoom team verantwoordelijk is voor een product of service is er nog steeds behoefte aan een design. Een design is essentieel voor het borgen van kennisoverdracht, ondersteuning van beheer en het nakomen van wet- en regelgeving. En dit is precies waar het in het boek Agile Design Best Practices – Een set van best practices voor een evolutionair design van informatiesystemen geschreven door Bart de Best over gaat.

In het boek staan twee aspecten centraal. Het veranderparadigma en de design pyramid.

Het veranderparadigma laat zien dat bij een verandering van werkwijze ook het delen van gemeenschappelijke uitgangspunten vereis is. Het is belangrijk dat er eerst een synchronisatie van denkbeelden plaatsvindt. Dit betreft zowel de denkbeelden van de business case (beeld), het eigenaarschap (macht), de werkwijze (organisatie) als de benodigde mensen en middelen (resources). De auteur projecteert dit op zowel een agile aanpak, een waterval aanpak alsmede op een uitgewerkte casus.

QRC (Agile Design, 200504) v1.0

Downloaden: QRC (Agile Design, 200504) v1.0

De design pyramid geeft een classificatie van onderdelen waaruit een design moet bestaan. De non agile design pyramid komt kort aan bod en de ideal design pyramid bestrijkt de hoofdmoot van het boek.

Een non agile design pyramid beschrijft de architectural, functional, technical, requirements, test en code view van een traditionele aanpak. Hierbij wordt in het voortraject de meeste tijd gestopt en naarmate je verder in de tijd bent wordt er steeds minder tijd gestopt in de volgende views en lopen de views vanuit de business (wat) naar de techniek (hoe). Deze pyramide wordt gevisualiseerd door een omgekeerde pyramide.

Het boek beschrijft in detail alle lagen van een ideal design pyramid waarbij de lagen wederom vanuit de business (wat) naar de techniek (hoe) lopen maar waarbij de inspanning omgekeerd is. Aan het begin minder inspanning en naarmate men verder in het project is steeds meer. De lagen en bijbehorende op te leveren producten, die ieder in een hoofdstuk aan bod komen, zijn:

  • Business view: system context diagram en value stream canvas
  • Solution view: use case diagram, system building blocks (Informatie, applicatie en technologie) en value stream mapping
  • Design view: use cases bestaande uit use case narrative en use case scenario
  • Requirements view: Behavior Driven Development (BDD) feature files (Given-When-Then format)
  • Test view: Test Driven Development (TDD) met testframework, testcases en testdatasets
  • Code view: code as documenten of documentation as code of continuous documentation.

In de bijlagen onder andere aan tabel van agile tools inclusief verwijzingen naar websites.

Conclusie. Het boek geeft veel praktische handvatten hoe een agile design vormgegeven kan worden. Als rode draad loopt het ontwerp van een koffiemachine door het boek. Bij iedere laag van de ideal design pyramid krijgen we de bijbehorende  ingevulde op te leveren producten. Verder per laag verschillende tips en trucks (trucs of tricks?).

Bestellen: Agile Design

Review Project Excellence Baseline

A few weeks ago, I was for a three-day assessment training regarding the IPMA Project Excellence Model in Vilnius, Lithonia. For 3 days, by using action learning we familiarized ourselves with the Project Excellence Model. This model will be used to judge which large and mega-sized projects will receive the project excellence award.

IPMA_PEB_2019__cover_previewThe Project Excellence Model (PEM) is described in the book Project Excellence Baseline for Achieving Excellence in Projects and Programmes. This Project Excellence Model is a great tool for continuous improvement of project or program management in your organization? It’s not a maturity model. The main purpose of the Project Excellence Baseline (PEB) is to describe the concept of excellence in managing projects and programs. It complements the IPMA Individual Competence Baseline (IPMA ICB) and the IPMA Organisational Competence Baseline (IPMA OCB).

The book describes a project in its organization’s internal and external context. The concept of project excellence is based on continuous improvement (plan-do-check-act), the role of sustainability and the role of leadership.

The PEM model structure enables easy reporting of the outcomes on all management levels via three levels:

  • Areas: The main components of the model: People & Purpose and Processes & Resources and Project Results
  • Criteria: to enable detailed feedback about the levels of excellence on a particular project
  • Examples: actual practices typically found in excellent projects.

QRC (PEM, 200324)All three areas of the model strongly interact with each other. See the arrows in the figure. This means that none of the areas should be developed in isolation and each of the areas should be actively used to develop excellence in the remaining two. Due to interaction between areas the following business value can be secured: performance, effectiveness and efficiency, reliability, flexibility, continuous improvement, scalability and sustainability.

The People & Purpose area is divided into three criteria: A.1. Leadership & Values; A.2. Objectives & Strategy; A.3. Project Team, Partners & Suppliers.

The Processes & Resources area is divided into two criteria: B.1. Project Management Processes & Resources; B.2. Management of Other Key Processes & Resources.

The Project Results area is divided into four criteria: C.1. Customer Satisfaction; C.2. Project Team Satisfaction; C.3. Other Stakeholder Satisfaction; C.4. Project Results and Impact on Environment.

In a separate chapter the assessment of project excellence, the assessment process itself, the role and competences of project excellence assessors, the scoring approach and the project profile are described in detail. The project profile consists of three general scores, respectively for People & Purpose, Processes & Resources and Project Results. Examples of conclusions after assessing could be leadership driven projects with low process maturity, process driven project with low leadership and/or sense of purpose and, balanced projects combining great leadership and a strong sense of purpose with a strong process culture.

In the annexes you get a very detailed description of the Project Excellence Model and the scoring tables for the model areas and criteria. The last annex explains the IPMA Global Project Excellence Award assessment and its benefits for stakeholders, applicants and for finalists and winners.

Conclusion: Not only a book for assessors or applicants of the IPMA Project Excellence award but for project sponsors, project or program managers or PMO/Centre of Excellence staff too who can use it as a great tool for continuous improvement of project or program management.

To download: Project Excellence Baseline

Introduction to the Project Excellence Baseline

Review Formula X

9781950367221-480x600Jurriaan Kamer and Rini van Solingen are the authors of Formula X – How to reach extreme acceleration in your organization? It’s a business fable that shows which steps you should take to drastically accelerate the time-to-market in your own organization.

In this novel, we follow Ronald Verhulst, the director of a major kitchen manufacturer who is confronted with an advertisement, placed by the major shareholder promising that kitchens can be operational within two weeks from order. If it takes longer, you get the kitchen for free. This sounds disruptive if you know that the current time-to-market is twelve or more weeks. Based on a number of advices from a Formula I team, Ronald shows how to translate these lessons learned into his own organization and to implement them step by step. Do you have any idea how often a Formula I team evaluates the way they operate and how many improvements are being made between two races?

But before Ronald actually gets to work on this advice, he started to work with the Full Control Consulting Group. They helped Ronald to implement Total Efficiency Management with which measurable processes can be accelerated. Completely in line with his own adage “Trust is good, but control is better!” This approach didn’t work, but it took some time to gain that insight. He sends the Consulting Group away and started with the lessons learned from the Formula I team.

QRC (Formula X, 200313) v1.0To Download: QRC (Formula X, 200313) v1.0

From the conversation with the driver and the team boss of the Formula I team, Ronald manages to distil six lessons (the authors call this the FASTER model consisting of six parts, the initial letters together form the word “FASTER”):

  • Focus and clarity – a clear and inspiring goal that works as a compass
  • Accelerate decisions – reversible decisions and distributed authority
  • Simplify – the art of omission and simplification
  • Team Engagement – intrinsic motivation, autonomy and ownership
  • Elementary physics – the age-old basic laws for speed and acceleration
  • Rhythmic learning– learn through a cadence of recurring interaction moments

In the book we get the translation of all these lessons to the kitchen manufacturer and we see the effect but also the struggle to win the organization for taking these steps. In the beginning we see a silo organization in which every department in itself works efficiently, but ultimately it is all about the result of all steps together. By learning on the basis of the aforementioned lessons and making changes based on them, the lead time is improved step by step. In the end, a final drastic step is taken. The ‘walls’ between the departments such as sales, planning, purchasing, production, installment and customer contact are broken down. Multidisciplinary teams are created that are responsible from the first customer contact to the final delivery of a kitchen. It may be clear where it ultimately leads. There are now teams that are able to install kitchens very quickly in a fixed cadence, with a lot of satisfied customers and a happy large shareholder as a result.

Conclusion: The chosen approach in which we learn from a Formula I team and apply it to a kitchen manufacturer shows that you can do a lot in a non-IT company too to improve your organization’s agility and what this means for you in your role as manager ( e.g. letting go and decentralized decision making). Pouring it into a business fable makes it fun and easy to read. Personally, I find the description of the current situation and “improving” through control steps too long. This covers more than half of the book and by shortening that part, the book could have gained in strength. Nevertheless, the book is definitely worth reading and offers plenty food for thought and potential experiences!

While writing this review they came to replace my boiler. A team of 2 mechanics arrived at 8 AM. They were ready around noon. Small problem: the digital thermostat had an error message. No connection with the boiler and therefore no heating! They failed to solve it. A connector between central heating and thermostat turned out to be broken. This happened them quite often when replacing a central heating boiler. However, this energy supplier had a separate team for this. After a 30-minute call, they told me that I would be called back within half an hour. That indeed happened and the team was due to arrive that afternoon between 1 and 5 PM. Around 4 PM another mechanic came with a new connector. Solved in five minutes. Suppose this energy supplier had read this book, they would probably have integrated this thermostat team with the heating installers after evaluating these types of problems. Many phone calls, an extra ride, and the turnaround time at my place would have accelerated by 50% and as a result a cost reduction for the supplier!

A week later I receive a letter for the yearly maintenance of my boiler. This letter still involved maintenance of my old boiler. After a few phone calls, it became clear that the back office had not yet made the changes. Another example of different teams / silos. In the meantime, I have received three more letters about scheduling regular maintenance, so I have to give them a next call and bring this book to the attention.

To order (managementboek): Formula X

To order (Amazon.com): Formula X

How to accelerate decisions: