Agile / Event

LESS2010 Recap, Monday Panel

I’ll be recapping the International Conference on Lean Enterprise Software and Systems. I plan to post updates during the conference.

Panel: Why Agile? Why Lean?

Host David Anderson (author of the Kanban book)

Kati Vilkki, Alan Shalloway, David Joyce, David F. Rico, Ken Power  (panelists)

1. question: Basic position statement (scaling agile and lean)

Ken Power (KP):

  • Lean and agile are related but different.
  • Agile: individual, team
  • Lean: Organization level

David Rico (DR):

  • Lean is the what
  • Agile is the how
  • Lean brings theory, science

Kati Vilkki (KV):

  • Agile is part of Lean software dev.
  • LSD is the wider concept (my own abbrev 🙂 )
  • agile does not address management
  • they are aligned, common practices, but different

David Joyce (DJ):

  • Agile are team practices
  • Lean from organization perspective
  • Scaling agile to organization functions in some cases

Alan Shalloway (AS):

  • Agile is very people-centred
    • admirable but not efficient
  • Lean is systems thinking
    • yet still about people
    • people improve the system
  • so, a different focus

2. question: Is scaling the right approach


  • it is not
  • we want enterprise agility but that is not reached by starting small and scaling
  • Scaling agile (small to big) is not want you want. You want to work at the organisation level, optimising the whole


  • scaling up agile you need something outside agile
  • agile doesn’t deliver business agility (pitched by the host)
  • agile and lean do not address product decisions


  • Agile addresses enterprise scale organizations
    • maybe not that well
  • We need to scale these into organizational levels


  • It’s not a toolset
  • you need to change the thinking


  • the question is flawed
  • the question is more about perspective
  • agile and lean bring different perspectives

3. question: Audience (Duarte Vasco): Agile is developed as a way of thinking, lean is being developed as a set of tools (argument?)


  • lean books are about tools
  • The Magic Behind Lean (the book? didnt find on Google)

The host:

  • Many more thinking models in Lean.
  • Agile community not interested in defining a thinking model


  • Agile and lean do different things
  • Choice of perspective: system or the mindset that created it
  • In Agile no principles to e found
  • In lean we value models
  • If you don’t look for the mindset and rules, you can get lost
  • If people don’t have a model or an experience they don’t change (they need both)

4. question: Audience (?): How do you move out of waterfall methodology? Lean or agile? (hypothetical)


  • The question is: What does the customer want?
  • Any methodology goes


  • Very painfully and very slowly
  • Different frameworks for talking with diff. people
  • Agile for developers
  • Agile not for business managers

5. question: Audience (?): Is transformation a continuous process? How do we create a kaizen culture?


  • Yes.
  • It is not a one-off thing, it’s continuous improvement
  • with a model of continuous stakeholder process


  • Visibility from development to value created
  • Visibility from business to development
  • Visibility of processes used
  • Biggest difference between kanban and agile is in that in kanban all the processes are explicit
  • teams are complex systems, you need kanban


  • kanban goes viral
  • people outside dev. organization see the process and start to question it
  • if people want to improve kaizen state becomes a reality

6. question (Jurgen Appelo): Shareholder movement in the 80s failed, now customer orientation, but customers don’t care about ethical things, how does Lean or Agile solve this sub-optimization?

  • How do you do agile or lean in an ethical way?
  • There are more stakeholders than customers, how to solve that sub-optimization


  • SouthWest Airlines: low-cost transportation
  • Values employees too
  • Lean does some of this, but it comes back to the value system (if these factors are there)
  • Toyota: For a long time their business was about providing value to the customers


  • The key thing in lean thinking is that you shouldn’t focus on just one company
  • It’s about whole value chains
  • From raw materials, so saving the ecosystem too
  • It’s not about short-term profits


  • Observation: Shortening the cycle time helps all of the stakeholders.


  • Lean and agile do not address this
  • They can help to do very unethical things efficiently
  • Stakeholder management addresses this
  • Corporate social responsibility statements address this

7. question (?): How to do an agile / lean transformation?


  • You need to see where you are.
  • Agile assumes you want to do a pilot project.
  • But maybe your problems are elsewhere, for example in the customer needs identification.
  • Lean is better because it gives you the complete picture.


  • Why we are doing it is the most important question.
  • What’s in it for me.
  • Bottom-up doesn’t necessarily work.
  • Top-down doesn’t necessarily work either.

How to overcome resistance?


  • The way you describe the change needs to correspond with the desired end product.
  • It doesn’t matter where you start but everyone must be invited eventually.
  • Managers have to give up control.
  • Bottom-up: how the developers can affect managers.
  • Apply agile thinking to the change process.


  • Naive answer: training and coaching.

Question 8: How do we make clear that we need a different model of development in SW than in manufacturing?


  • We need to make clear that there are different kinds of systems
  • Only through understanding this does every problem stop looking like a nail


  • Focus on how do we start learning where we are now
  • Focus on continuous improvement in small increments
  • There are some things that make your life easier if you just understand them
    • for example living in another country not knowing the language
  • A risk at looking at the wrong problems can complicate the people problem


  • Learning is not equal to training
  • You need people to want to pull learning

9. question: How you justify several mentors? Like 500 in 15000 people organizations?


  • You have to give the first shot free, meaning the first coaching session
  • Then they are hooked
  • Then they can decide if they like more training or coaching
  • Other way is to divide it to smaller chunks


  • Agile transitions are coaching-heavy
    • 1 coach per team full time
  • Kanban transitions require less
    • managers need to take responsibility
  • eventually everyone in the organization should take responsibility


  • Who takes responsibility of paying for coaching is a very difficult question

10. question: Are some principles or values missing from agile or lean?


  • Ethics.


  • many things
  • lack of emphasis on flexible technologies
  • Too much focus on use scrum on everything


  • A whole lot of stuff missing
    • product development
    • how to make good technical solutions


  • Psychology around change and learning is missing
  • Not just shouting “This is mine and it is better!”


  • The idea of why we are doing this
  • The idea is not to be agile or lean
  • What are Lean ethics?

2 thoughts on “LESS2010 Recap, Monday Panel

    • Sorry, misunderstanding (on a previous question) + copypaste + fix on the misunderstanding only on original question = my bad. Fixed now, thanks for the heads up.

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