Leaning in to Avoid the AgileFall
Your Agile Transformation Guide into the Digital Future:
And Making it STICK!
ISBN: 978-0-9847523-1-7 Pages: 321 Format: Paperback Price: $16.99 Available: October 2023
Why…Yet Another Agile Book?
As someone who has been practicing Lean and Agile methodologies, both hands-on and as a technical trainer for nearly two decades, I never thought I’d need to write another book on the subject. It felt like waste. I believed that there were already plenty of resources available on Lean and Agile, and that I had nothing new to add to the conversation. However, everything changed one day in September 2022, when I began working on an Agile implementation engagement for a well-known Fortune 500 in the process of digital transformation.
During my initial discussions with the lead architect, I asked about the team’s Agile ceremonies, and he assured me that they were doing everything by the book. Their teams were doing all the “right” things: sprint planning, creating stories, tracking velocity, etc. You know, everything that’s taught in Agile training classes. But when I inquired about their daily stand-ups, his response caught me off guard.
Because People are Passing Out During Daily Standup!
He told me that they did, in fact, have daily stand-ups, but that no one liked attending because they often ended with team members passing out. They were being required to stand for the entire standup, and before the meeting was over, some team members would lose circulation to their legs and faint. When I probed further into their Daily Stand-ups and the size of the team, he mentioned that there were between 20-30 people in the stand-ups, with the director often taking up an additional 10-20 minutes, Command-and-Control soapboxing.
This encounter revealed to me that while the team understood the Agile terminology and required ceremonies, they were missing the point of why they were doing them. Daily stand-ups are meant to increase efficiency by reducing the amount of time spent in meetings, limiting the meeting to the most critical attendees to 7-12 people, and ensuring that updates were timeboxed to 2-minute intervals. The “Why” of removing waste from needless time spent on meetings had been removed from the ceremony. The organization’s interpretation of the ceremony had created a cumbersome process that was counterproductive to the Agile principles that they were designed to implement.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated organizational incident.
The Most Common Threat Indicators of an Agile Transformation
As I continued working with other companies, I realized this was the root cause of many organizations that were struggling with Agile transformations. They were falling into the same trap of understanding the simple “What” of Agile, without comprehending the more complex of “Why.” For better or worse, this often resulted from individuals taking a one-week Agile training or certification course(s), learning just enough to cause chaos and confusion. (It’s also why most product backlogs look more like a business and sales team wish list for IT hoarders, instead of a strategically synchronized push-and-pull Kanban. Further compounded with the erroneous metric of success being: How many stories did you get written and added to the backlog today?)
Why Agile Transformation Success Is Not Just About Agile Certifications
It became clear to me that one of the core tenets of Lean, from which Agile is derived, is the importance of continuous improvement that many organizations are missing. To achieve this, teams must constantly assess their processes and understand why they are doing what they are doing. In Lean, this comes from understanding and knowing how to apply techniques like the 5-Whys. Without this critical component, Agile transformations will be no more valuable or effective than traditional waterfall methodologies that many organizations are attempting to replace.
Upon this realization, I understood the critical need to write a book that shifts the focus from the “what” to the “why” of Agile. My intention is to provide guidance to struggling and overwhelmed (fainting) Agile teams, enabling them to avoid common pitfalls and embrace Lean principles to achieve real, sustainable progress. However, I have observed that many organizations have strayed from the Agile roots of Toyota Production Systems (TPS) by introducing unnecessary complexities. So, let’s be 100% honest, complexity allows for the upselling of certifications and consulting contracts that make more money than implementing techniques–with rigor–like, Value Add Kaizens (VAK), Root Cause Analysis and Going to the Gemba to solve problems. Remember, COMPLEXITY is the antithesis of Lean flow and continuous improvement because it’s usually a result of wasteful processes.
If your Agile transformation has yet to become “sticky” within your organization after 1-2 years, you may be doing all the right things but implementing them the wrong way.
In summary, “Leaning In, to Avoid the AgileFall” aims to help teams shift their mind set towards Agile thinking, as I have found that this is the missing lynchpin to achieving successful implementations and sustained Agile practices. Trust me, once you understand how to THINK Agile, it becomes 100 times easier to BE Agile. This my friends, is what can’t be taught through an Agile “certification”.
Who Should Read It
Whether you are a business leader, Agile coach, Scrum Master, or team member, this book provides valuable guidance on how to navigate the challenges of implementing agile and Lean practices, and driving successful transformations that lead to improved efficiency, higher quality, and increased customer satisfaction.
What You’ll Learn
This book covers a comprehensive guide on how to migrate from traditional Waterfall project management methodologies to Agile project management, using Lean best practices and principles.
The book contains 12 chapters that provide insights into:
- Challenges of migrating to Agile
- Principles and concepts of the Lean approach
- Common pitfalls in Agile transformation
- Tools and techniques for successful implementation
- Applying value stream mapping to identify waste and bottlenecks
- Measuring progress and success
- Strategies for managing change and overcoming resistance
- Streamlining Agile requirements and design
- Ensuring continuous improvement in Agile delivery
- Building a culture of continuous improvement for long-term success,
- Aligning Agile teams to Service Oriented Architectures (SOA)
The also book covers various tools and techniques for successful implementation of Agile, such as value stream mapping, business capabilities mapping, Object Key Results (OKRs), and Kanban. Finally, the book presents a case studies to illustrate how Agile can be successfully implemented in real-world scenarios.
How Is It Different From Other Agile Books
“Leaning in to Avoid the AgileFall” goes beyond theory and offers actionable strategies, real-world examples, and practical tips that can be applied in various organizational contexts. If you’re looking to achieve mastery in implementing Agile and Lean methodologies, and driving successful transformations in your organization, “Leaning in to Avoid the AgileFall” is an essential resource that will help you overcome challenges, optimize your processes, and achieve sustainable results.
For pre-order purchase information, consulting, remote coaching and guest appearance contact:
800.383.4560 or AlSmith”at”AgileAl.com