From time to time, we all get stuck.
In the middle of this project I got stuck with Personal Kanban and was not sure how to move forward. I am very fortunate to know people like Brian Bozzuto, and even more fortunate that he was willing to take the time to help coach me through my practice of PK.
And I am equally fortunate to know Scott Bellware and Ray Lewallen. These guys are usually my first call when I get stuck with things that are related to Agile. They are both very smart, and they both have a lot of experience. But the main thing for me is that they both see the world, and the work, in a way that is completely different from how I see it. More often than not, our conversations end up with me gaining a perspective I would probably not have found on my own.
I reached out to Scott and Ray with the intent of getting their take on what was happening with my Personal Kanban experiment. I also wanted to get their thoughts on my questions about interpreting value and see how they felt about my complete inability to employ 5S in my workspace.
Both Scott and Ray agreed to allow me to record the call so that I could use it as a podcast of sorts. This is not a typical interview, but more of a conversation/debate. It is broken into two parts in order to make it easier to download and I’ve listed key points in the conversation below, along with the times during the recording when they occur.
1:46 - Is Personal Kanban even useful to begin with?
4:20 - Why Scott doesn't use Kanban anymore
5:30 – The spread of Kanban
6:50 - Ray advocates for useful tools over following a specific methodology
8:30 – How Value and Prioritization build momentum
10:47 - Why momentum is so important
12:30 - Measuring value
12:45 - Writing everything down: wasteful, or not?
16:30 - Why Scott and Ray think I should throw everything away
18:30 - Making mindful decisions about your Personal Kanban practices
0:00 - The importance of WIP and the cognitive burden of the backlog
2:25 - Avoiding "rank, negligent ignorance" when tracking your work
3:17 – The resurgence of things that are important enough to survive
3:48 – Maintenance of information inventory
6:07 – The importance of customizing your own solution
8:00 - Dealing with interrupters
11:40 – Knowing which waste to eliminate
14:20 - You can't have kaizen, you have to be kaizen
15:20 - The value of 5S
18:10 - The importance of a soluble workspace
22:00 – Tracking recurring tasks
23:51 - practice mode vs. practical mode
25:00 - Where to learn more about Scott and Ray
26:22 - Scott's last request
Written by Mitch Lacey, published by Addison-Wesley Professional as part of their Agile Software Development Series)
One of the things that is difficult about taking a Certified Scrum Master or Certified Product Owner classes is that to a large extent, the material looks at Scrum in a state that is (for many) based on an ideal they may never reach. Once students leave the class and go back to work, the number of obstacles they face in the struggle towards Agile transformation can be a daunting thing to overcome. If they are brave enough to take up the challenge, they soon bang up against the fact that when they try to apply Scrum in the wild, what they end up facing may not sync up so well with what was taught in class.
Enter Mitch Lacey’s new book: The Scrum Field Guide:Practical Advice For Your First Year. The Field Guide picks up where the classes leave off and addresses some of the real world issues that people face when they go back to their workplace and start trying to implement Scrum and Agile. In a narrative that is unassuming and easy to read, Mitch Lacey shares stories, his own experiences, and advice from other expert sources on how to actually get Scrum up and running and producing results. The book covers some of the most common questions that come up during implementation like:
- When we don’t know what our velocity is, what do we tell our stakeholders we can commit to?
- What if you have to play two roles at once?
- How do you deal with team members that are only needed for brief, very specific types of work?
- How is Scrum Master a full time job and how to you convince others of that?
The cases are presented through stories that set up the different situations. Lacey then draws on his own experiences leading and coaching Agile teams to explore the different options and offer his recommendations.
The book also includes a “First Aid” section for those who are trying to solve very specific issues with things like “Running a Productive Daily Standup Meeting” and dealing with some of the cultural challenges that are part of Agile Transformation.
While it is called the Scrum Field Guide, the book is not just about Scrum. Lacey introduces his own practice of Agile by saying that for him, one of the keys to getting Scrum to work has been pairing it with Extreme Programming. Throughout the book, Lacey introduces XP practices where he has seen them effectively utilized with Scrum.
While the book does include information on the actual Scrum Framework (in the Appendix) it is really designed to work best for folks who have a bit of experience in using Scrum and are seeing various issues, or “smells” as they are often called, creep up.
There are a lot of books out there that are aimed at clarifying what the Scrum Framework is. If you have clarity on what Scrum is supposed to be, and need a resource to help you make it work, The Scrum Field Guide will be a great addition to your tool belt. The title of the book indicates that this book is intended for people who are in their first year of doing Scrum. I’ve been working with Scrum for many years now and I’m also a Certified Scrum Trainer. I still found a lot of valuable information in this book and expect it is something I’ll be referencing in the future when I’m coaching.