Monday, July 20, 2009

The Semco Way

I had read Ricardo Semler's book, Maverick a few years back. Today I came across Semco's survival Manual on their site and is very inspiring.

As you read their list of values and practices, you could imagine the self organization and self management going on in Semco.

I highly recommend any one to read Maverick which inspires you to think differently.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Need for the Right Person to Drive Agile Adoption

It is very important to identify the right person to drive Agile adoption in the organization rather than randomly choosing some senior person to drive it.

The reason being, Agile is all about
  • People
  • Being Flexible
  • Being Patient
  • Open for new ideas
  • Learning
Recently in one of the stories I heard, the CEO of a company who had been hearing a lot about Agile to adopt Agile in his organization. So, he decided to form an Agile Research Group to drive Agile adoption in the organization. He choose one of the senior most Vice Presidents(VP) to drive this, who in turn choose some senior and mid-level managers to start gathering info.

Just like any other company, the Agile core team started meeting weekly, they started the Agile discussion forum and started gathering as much information as possible.

After a month of starting this Agile group, the core team submitted their findings to this Vice president (VP). After few days the VP called the core team for a meeting and the team didn't believe what they heard from the VP.

Cutting a long story short, the VP didn't believe that there exists concepts like Iteration, Daily Stand up meetings, self organizing team, Iterative and Incremental development approaches. He didn't believe the reports submitted by the core team. In this case, the VP himself became hindrance to the Agile adoption.

This may not be the case in all the organizations, and it could be one "off" the case, however it is very important to choose the right person, especially when it comes to Agile adoption.

In another case study, the CEO of the company appointed a senior person from Quality group to drive Agile adoption. This Quality group head was coming from a strong CMM and Waterfall background. The team assigned to try Agile on a sample project used to read books, attend trainings and try the practices on their projects.
Many a times this Agile group failed in implementing the practices, but each time they failed the senior person driving Agile, used to tell them I told you Agile won't work kind of statements.
Such statements discourage the team. One has to remember that, It is normal that the team might fail while implementing new practices, and in such situations Patience is the key.

I believe that the following key attributes are needed in the person driving Agile Adoption

1. Good understanding and knowledge of Agile
2. Be open to new ideas
3. If the team fails in between, analyze the situation and encourage them rather than pushing them down
4. Trust the people around
5. Patience
6. Persistence

Remember that the wrong person in the right place not only could become bottleneck for the Agile adoption but also could lead to failure.

You could read this article also on Project Perfect blog

Have you come across such stories, you can share them here....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Interviewing candidates for Agile Projects

If you are running an Agile project and looking at hiring a suitable candidate, here is an excellent article which describes the step by step process of extreme interviewing.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Introduction To Lean

Recently I was watching the web cast on Lean Concepts for IT Professionals by Durnall and Parkinson. They have provided a very good introduction about lean covering its history and principles. It is an hour video and worth watching. While watching the video, I made some notes and here are some of them :

1. Mass manufacturing addresses the challenge of volume, where as the Lean addresses the challenge of variation

2. When volume doubles, economies of scale reduce cost by 15 - 20% per unit but costs go up 15% to 35% every time variety doubles.

3. Jidoka is all about automation. Humans are flexible but not good at repetitive tasks, however Machines are good at repetitive tasks but are not flexible. Jidoka talks about using both Humans and Machines to create a good system

4. In Ford the machines in the assembly lines are stopped around 8 – 10 times a day but in Toyota, they stop the machines nearly 27000 times a day. This is mainly because, each time any employee of the company finds a fault with the product, they stop and do root cause analysis before allowing the machines to run. The quality gets built in by the time the product is rolled out.

5. There are 8 different kinds of wastes that can happen in a system
  • Overproduction
  • Waiting
  • Unnecessary Transportation
  • Over-processing
  • Excess Inventory
  • Unnecessary Movement
  • Defects
  • Unused employee creativity
6. Toyota CFO expects the entire financial year report on an A3 size format, so that only needed information has been added rather than waste

7. There are two kinds of Kaizen, Point and Flow

8. There are two sets of people, the bike thinker and the frog thinker. Basically, a bike can be disassembled easily, individual components can be optimized and put back. However a frog, once disassembled cannot be optimized in isolation without affecting the other parts. Software development needs Frog thinking.