Agile Coaching 101 – Beyond Agile

For me, being an agile coach goes beyond Agile. A good coach is a coach of agility. What do I mean by that?

The manifesto for agile software development is an amazing document, but it’s not the single source of truth about how to gain agility. At least, not in the way I see agility, and this is where Lean also comes into play.

Intro to Lean

I have to bite the bullet on this one. I am the first guy to say that we should stop having a factory mentality, but in this case, I go directly to the factory way of working.

For those reading this that don’t know where lean comes from, read this paragraph. If you already know, step to the next one.
Lean Manufacturing originated in Japan, deriving largely from the Toyota Production System aka TPS. This system was perfect for almost 3 decades, between 1948 and 1975, by Taiichi Ohno and Elji Toyoda. Imagine this, 3 decades of improving on an improvement system.
If you are interested in the story, I really recommend this article on Toyota website.

The basis of Lean is eliminating waste. The theory (and reality) is that by eliminating wasteful activities you become more efficient and can deliver faster. Very important, efficient, not effective. If you are doing the wrong thing, Lean will help you become more efficient in concluding that wrong thing. You can read more about the difference between them here.

Muda, Mura, Muri

A big part of the philosophy behind the TPS and Lean is Muda, Mura, Muri. So what is this all about?

Muda – Waste

Any activity that will consume a resource without producing any value to our end customer and it comes in 2 flavors.

Type one Muda. An activity that cannot be eliminated immediately. There is probably a part of your delivery process that already comes into your mind.

Type two Muda. Waste that can be eliminated quickly via Kaizen (Continuous Improvement). These are usually items that we identify during retrospectives and come up with actions to fix them.

Mura – Unevenness.

It can be easily detected by anything that causes any part of your operation to do something very quickly, and then wait. Do something quickly, and then wait for a while.

An example could be this. We have 2 teams. Team 2 depends on team 1, meaning, team 2 can only test or integrate their work after team 1 is finished. Team 2’s work is 99% of the time done in 1 week. Team 1’s work takes at least 2 weeks. Team 2 can only work in a 2 week cadence with 1 week of work.

Mura is often solved by management. In this example, better management of both teams work (could be the implementation of an interactive process) would solve the issue.

Muri – Overburdening

Taking something to the limit for a long period of time. It can be people or equipment.

In our industry, it’s very common to see people getting overburdened. A bit of crunch mode is OK, we’ve all been there, but when it becomes the norm, then we have a problem.

The outcomes of Muri can go from equipment breaking to people breaking (leaving the company).

Do you have a favorite lean waste to eliminate?
It’s kind of a strange question, but I hope I am not the only one. For me it’s Partially Done Work.

Let me know over the socialz.



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