Agile / Event

LESS2010 Recap, Monday edition

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

Notes are regular script, my own commentary is in italic.

Ps. You can follow the conference on Twitter by searching #less2010

Keynote by Prof. Deborah Nightingale, MIT

Evolution of Lean

  • from lean (post-WWII automotive industry) to Lean (now)
  • Adding value vs. eliminating waste
  • Adding value overall vs. adding value to customers
  • Lean as a way of thinking, not a set of tools
  • Lean thinking is linked to and complements other mgmt. initiatives
  • Enterprises today base their transformation initiatives on Lean and Six Sigma
  • Lean principles and practices work across different fields
    • practices have to be tailored to fit
  • LAI (Lean Advancement Initiative): A Consortium dedicated to enterprise performance
  • Delivering value: 5 Lean thinking fundamentals (5 principles of Lean from Womack & Jones ’96)
    1. specify value
    2. identify the value stream
    3. make value flow continuously
    4. let customers pull value
    5. pursue perfection
  • Value creation framework, value phases (vv customer development)
    • value identification
    • value proposition
    • value delivery

Lean in engineering

  • problems:
    • selecting the right product
    • no mention on set-based design or deciding as late as possible, though
    • is this about manufacturing business?
  • engineers have the most effect on product cost
  • total life cycle cost
  • “Reusable and redeployable software requires the right decisions up front”
    • is this really true?
    • can right decisions be made up front?
    • or should the focus be on enabling changing the solution to use without sacrificing everything?
  • information flow is critical
    • communication is emphasized
    • LAI has kinds of waste for information flow (quite intuitive actually, no need to reproduce here)

Lean transformation

  • Important:
    • clear sense of project goals
    • strong project culture
    • close co-operation with customers
    • stay in budget
    • how about going beyond budgets and projects?
  • Lean is a journey not a state
  • holistic approach to enterprise transformation
  • Talk continued with a presentation of a number of tools for enterprise Lean transformation
    • I’m not sure how useful they are for a number of different kinds of situations and needs
    • Certainly impressive graphs fitted into single ppt slides

General Comments

  • 7 kinds of waste in keynote talks, anyone? 😉

Marko Taipale: Case Nextdoor

Huitale: How we do things without mentioning lean, scrum etc.

product company

consulting is a way of funding


  • predictability
  • adaptability
  • (continuous deployment)

What is a lean startup

  • quoting Eric Ries’ definition
    • human institution
    • new product or service
    • extreme uncartainty
  • does not state size
  • ideas >> build >> code >> measure >> data >> learn >> ideas (circle)
  • Customer development: figuring out your customer
    • who is the customer, who has the need (comes b4 identifying customer value)
    • Steve Blank
    • relation to product dev.: after customer validation build product, validate if the product fits the needs
  • Product owner role in Scrum doesn’t work
    • product team >> problem team
    • development team >> solution team
  • Business model is being iterated all the time
    • Huitale’s business model is in the 30th iteration

  • Why, who, what
    • Portal for customers
    • Household services
    • sell & buy
    • Free to use
    • for small companies also
    • for transparency in the market
  • Screenshots from early versions
    • All have be released in public
    • 1st version: 100 users
    • 2nd version: 700 users
    • beta (2nd version) 120 mandays (no infrastructure in the beginning)
    • daily releases
  • Numbers:
    • 30000 visitors /month
    • 2000 active users
    • 500 open offers / requests
    • 3 days lead time
    • 1 release / day
    • 1 backup / day
    • 1 biz report / day
    • 550 automated acceptance tests
    • >80% test coverage
    • 28 IE6 issues
    • 2 bugs in 3 years

how do we do it

  • Production flow:
      • theme discovery (2h)
      • features (2d)
      • defining ready (2d)
      • development (6d)
      • regression test (15min)
      • deployment (1min)
    • from ready to done in 6 days
    • from not started to done in 8 days
    • limited queues: for example product queue 7 items, in progress 2 items
    • planning when needed (when product queue empty enough)
    • review optional (problem team trusts the solution team, turst has been building for a long time)
    • stop the line: when there are bugs in development / production all other work is stopped
  • items: features
    • title
    • size (S, M, L)
    • screenshot
    • basis for measuring business value
  • data from development
    • nice graph of the development flow
  • predictibility: size estimation, production flow
  • adaptability: CEO can remove items from production flow
    • the later he removes it, the more it costs
  • Nr 1 waste: unused features
    • building a feature may be the wrong answer
    • who cares about velocity?
      • what is the value velocity i.e. your velocity in value delivered?
    • Philosophy:
      • validated learning (over working software)
      • Doing only things that match the demand
      • Team vision and discipline
      • Continuous improvement
    • Please don’t copy, think for yourself!

Refactoring the Organization – Ken Power

I entered in the middle of the talk so these notes are fragmentary.

The speaker mentions Dan Pink

Refactoring (Martin Fowler’s book, Joshua Kerievsky’s “Refactoring to Patterns”)

  • behaviour-preserving transformation
  • using patterns to improve existing designs
  • refactorings used to transform organisations: examples from programming
    • “tease apart hierarchies”
    • “remove middle man”
    • “collapse hierarchy”

Challenges in agile/lean transformation at Cisco

  • gaps in training – not a substitute for experience
  • integrating people outside dev/QA teams
  • the list of challenges overall looks pretty standard – I’ve seen similar results reported from a lot of organizations
  • different tools for different uses

What is a resource?

  • One of the fundamental steps you can take in lean / agile transformation is to stop calling people resources
  • Stakeholders, different types (Freeman’s Basic 2-tier model, Google Books)

Ken Power tells us Cisco has product owner teams. Similar to problem team @ Huitale (previous recap)?

Stakeholder management

  • take a broad view of stakeholders
  • adapted from Freeman
  • rhythm from product lifecycle
  • different levels of stakeholders
  • managers as stakeholders who have contractual relationships to other stakeholders
  • product teams mapping stakeholders with post-it notes
  • intensive communication with stakeholders – not just those who are friendly

Jazz improvisation

  • Interrupt habit patterns
  • Maximum flexibility
  • Retrospective sense-making (at retrospectives, I guess)
  • continual negotiation
  • taking turns soloing (lead role changing fluidly)
  • Book suggestion: Artful Making (what managers need to know about how artists work)

Alysson Vale: Designing Process Visualizations

The presentation is online.

Journey Through Systemic Improvement – David Joyce

David Joyce’s Lean and Kanban blog

Systems thinking

better practice not best practice

are we doing the wrong the in a righter way?

we need to bring more to the table than transforming user stories (reqs) into software in a more efficient way

we need to have a new system that can pull customer needs from customer and implement them (the whole concept 2 cash system)

Silos: Business and development (two different silos)

Locally optimized view

There’s no such thing as the business: it’s our business

Impulse is to provide a technical solution far too early

This is not a call for better business analysis

This is a call for customer analysis

From a customer view the corporate triangle is upside down – the managers do not have direct contact to customers

A matrix organization always has sub-optimization

  • hidden costs from customer requests
    • hand-offs between silos / lines
  • lines will meet management targets, but don’t satisfy customers
  • the time to serve customers raises

If you, as a manager, give a numerical target to an employee, he will make it even if it means destroying the company

“There is little merit in a well executed project that no one wants the output from”

Being on-time and on budget are often measured and rewarded.

The elusive business value is often not.


Dan Pink: Purpose mentioned.

Clarity of Purpose from the customer’s point of view is important.

The first part of getting to the customer’s point of view.

Value demand: what we want from our customers and spend time on

Failure demand: demands we don’t want

End to End Flow

We need to study the flow of customer demand and follow it through the system.

A group of peers monitors the customer demand.

How does this relate to value stream mapping?

How does this relate to customer development? Maybe not in any way.

Is the kind of mgmt system described capable of evolutionary change to something viable?

Rico: Agile Project Management

To make a long story short: I chose the wrong session. Nothing to see here.


One thought on “LESS2010 Recap, Monday edition

  1. Pingback: 2010 in Review (by « Game-Based Learning Dev

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