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Agile2011 Proposal for Workshop

An amazing dinner needs a cookbook, a chef AND a kitchen

Authors:

Olaf Lewitz

agile42 consulting GmbH, Grünberger Strasse 54, 10245 Berlin, Germany @OlafLewitz

Olaf.Lewitz@agile42.com

Dave Sharrock

agile42 consulting ltd, 1572 Coleman Street, North Vancouver, V7K 1W8, Canada @davesharrock

Dave.Sharrock@agile42.com

Keywords:

Enterprise Agility

Agile Transition

Lean Transition

Transparency

Knowledge Management

Information Management

Speed

Effectiveness

Summary:

When becoming a more agile enterprise, people require dependable access to up-to-date, connected, and transparent information. The ability to rely on this connected information gives the teams freedom to improve their products and processes. When the burden of searching for information is lifted from the organisation, and maintaining current information is easier because of transparent dependencies, the organisation can reach a new level of freedom. End-to-end optimisation of the full value network is futile if not supported by an enabling, transparent information infrastructure.

Agile projects are information hungry

We outline some typical situations from practical experience and provide observations on how agile projects can be integrated into the enterprise information infrastructure. How do we get away from storing Office documents on file servers? How does information from a whiteboard get into those documents, and vice versa? How does the infrastructure (of the projects and the enterprise) need to change to enable a sustainable information repository? I’ll answer some of these questions by sharing experiences, pointing out typical traps and common-sense solutions. How we make it work in practice, how we change the enterprise information infrastructure in a way that it becomes usable as a base for agile process improvements?

The metaphor

Speaking of hunger

kitchen where all the material and tools we need are easily available and accessible at the time we

need them. When working under pressure, there is no time to search for that elusive spoon.

:

to prepare a delicious three-course dinner, we need the right environment; a

Processes are like recipes: They may be a good read and have an illuminating effect, depending on personal experience and the current problem you face, but between the purchase of a recipe book and a successfully prepared three-course menu for friends there is a stony path to follow.

Experience makes it easier: an experienced chef can help you follow the recipe more succsesfully, pointing out the correct way to do each step so that you don’t have to learn through poor tasting experience. Coaching supports process changes in much the same way, leading to more successful projects and institutional change.

However, is this enough? In addition to an experienced cook (coach) and a great recipe (process), you also need a well-equipped kitchen, with all the ingredients available. An experienced master chef is also integral in creating a great kitchen which produces a great meal – as can a coach.

Session History

Olaf presented this topic as a presentation or workshop at three different conferences last year (HSE workshop, Munich, Scrum-Day, Berlin, XPDays Germany, Hamburg) with positive feedback. For Agile2011 I joined forces with Dave and we combined Presentation and Workshop and included a new common patterns method to create a longer session focussed more on a teaching objective based on patterns for continual learning.

Learning Outcomes

** Patterns for identifying impediments to information flow during an agile transition ** Good and bad experiences of impediments to information flow, identifying actions taken and what worked and what did not ** Toolbox of tips and tricks to address impediments to information

Process/Mechanics:

Interactive Workshop for 20+ participants of medium to advanced experience levels Duration: Designed for 120 min could easily be extended to 180 min if needed Material: Cards and big tables or whiteboards, sticky notes and big pens

000-010 min

Set the Stage

Connection activity and introduction. Share experiences of good and bad information flow. Introduce objectives and facilitators/participants

010-020 min

 

Concepts to be addressed; introduction to kitchen/cooking metaphor

020-030 min

 

Create ‘Cooking Groups’

030-090 min

Concept Centers - 3 CC x 20 mins each

Three Concept Centers based on:

● Visualising and grouping experiences of impediments to knowledge sharing from participants; categorisation of experiences and identification of key issues raised

 

● Brainstorming of possible solutions to information sharing issues; Data Hunt on common tools/tips for resolving impediments

● Define multiple action paths for different types of information sharing impediments; create stand-alone solution flows for different types of information issues

090-120 min

 

Group work to expose patterns for identifying information flow impediments in action. Signals and signs that information is not flowing, is flowing to the wrong places, or is being misinterpreted.

110-120 min

 

Conclusions & Feedback

Some Background:

(This will only partially be part of the workshop, just left in for evaluation purposes) The way enterprises organise the information of their projects and products and the speed at which they retrieve this information are essential to their survival. Because agile methods are information hungry, this speed becomes even more essential and the old ways of storing and retrieving information are holding your agile teams back. You want to learn how to streamline this infrastructure so that this will no longer be your bottleneck to progress. Many expectations and promises entwine themselves round the use of agile methods. Whether Scrum or Kanban, the two currently most prominent representatives, or XP and the other well-knowns, they all come with the promise to improve software development in many respects. The added value for the enterprise and the customers will be optimised, the responsiveness to change is improved and, in addition, one hardly works extra hours, the teams get on better and have fun with their work again. What projects nowadays are all about is communication. In bigger projects, and enterprises, this communication needs to be supported through management of information, to facilitate the creation, change, documentation and transportation of knowledge. Independent of the chosen process it is essential to incorporate the information platforms of the enterprise as a base into every change in process. Every process change which does not take into account how people access and easily update the information required for their daily work, needed for their daily decisions, remains locally restricted and can not grow. If the way you store information in an enterprise is putting documents on a file server, a whiteboard with cards will not integrate well into that infrastructure – and it will not replace it either. The information hunger of the project will not be satisfied by the enterprise using that infrastructure. And the enterprise will not succeed with integrating the outcome of the agile project in this infrastructure. Today enterprises sport a variety of tools, data bases and knowledge storages. They do not lack space to store information. They lack transparency. Relevant information is either not stored at the expected place - because there are too many places - or is not linked meaningfully with each other. The information hunger of agile projects in the long run can not be sustainably fed by this approach. But, we can do better!

Presenters:

Olaf Lewitz works as an Agile Coach and Change Agent with agile42. He’s a sceptical empirist with more than twenty years experience in software development. Being perpetually astonished by the

ways people are made to work, he spent more than ten years mentoring and coaching a variety of businesses to succeed with changing the way they work. Olaf loves to combine ideas from different areas and experiences to create new solutions. Whenever possible he uses playful approaches to entice sustainable change. His motto as a coach is that of Nanny McPhee: “When you need me, but do not want me, I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go.” Dave Sharrock oversees the agile42 professional services operations in North America and is responsible for introducing agile42’s unique approach to that region of the world. Dave thrives in dynamic and fast-changing environments – building, leading and coaching technology and product development teams in start-ups or fast-changing, results-driven environments. Quick to grasp business concepts and creatively address business challenges. He is a natural leader with extensive international and off-shoring experience, working in large multinational corporations, small and medium enterprises, and fledgling start-ups, from manufacturing to online social networks to telecommunications. Within agile42 he has trained and coached management teams, transition teams, scrum teams and stakeholders in enterprise-wide agile roll-outs targeting over 100 teams distributed world-wide. Olaf and Dave have been passionate about enterprise information infrastructure and knowledge management systems for years, and have a vast experience of helping enterprises of all colours to improve those as a success factor for agile transitions.