I became an advocate for continuous improvement when I discovered that when we improve processes, we also improve people’s lives. Bruce Feiler’s TED Talk on agile families is well worth your time. I regret that I did not use these techniques when my daughters were younger, but I can certainly spread the message, starting NOW!
Bruce Feiler has a radical idea: To deal with the stress of modern family life, go agile. Inspired by agile software programming, Feiler introduces family practices which encourage flexibility, bottom-up idea flow, constant feedback and accountability. One surprising feature: Kids pick their own punishments.
Deepak Chopra's wisdom seems to know no bounds.
This is a great way to start your week!
Two Kinds of Happiness (One Is Bad for You)
Oct 3 2014
The field of positive psychology took a step forward with a new finding about happiness and our genes. In the past, genes were considered to be stable and fixed in how they affect the body, but now that the human genome has been mapped, this view has radically changed. The chemical activity of genes, known as genetic expression, is altered by many factors. It’s highly likely that genes are so fluid, in fact, that genetic expression changes according to a person’s thoughts, feelings, and moods. If that’s true, then saying something as basic as “I’m happy” could need genetic verification. Words are just words, but your genetic-expression profile is a fact.
This was underlined by the first ever study of genes and happiness. Researchers from UCLA and the University of North Carolina discovered that the genetic link to happiness cuts two ways. People who are happy because they have a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives showed positive gene expression in their immune cells, especially as it affected inflammation and antiviral response. This kind of happiness was labeled “eudaimonic well-being,” from the Greek word for happiness, eudaimon. By contrast, people whose happiness depends on consumerism and bursts of pleasure actually fared worse than unhappy people in the genetic expression of their immune cells, showing a tendency toward inflammation and decreased ability to fight viruses. This kind of happiness was labeled “hedonic well-being” from the Greek for pleasure, hedone.
If you have been here before, you know I’m a huge fan of Dean Leffingwell and his work on Agile. It seems that the mainstream business community is finally catching up. This is a great article by Jason Bloomberg for Forbes.
Scaling Agile Software Development for Digital Transformation
True digital transformation initiatives require change at multiple levels of the organization. Revamping the customer experience with digital technologies is never a superficial change, as it requires better, more flexible software as well as a dynamic, agile organization to drive innovation and to respond to marketplace changes.
Agile software methodologies like Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) are now established approaches for building software in dynamic environments. Agile approaches don’t solve every software problem, however, as they typically work best with relatively small, self-organizing teams.
Scaling Agile to the enterprise level is a challenge that The Scaled Agile Framework® (also known as SAFe™) means to address, as it combines Agile approaches with more enterprise-centric organizational practices. Yet, while SAFe has led to several dramatic successes, challenges still remain, especially as enterprises undergo the broader organizational change necessary for digital transformation success.
Success with SAFe™
SAFe is an interactive knowledge base for implementing Agile practices at enterprise scale, according to its Web site. This enterprise-driven approach is largely the brainchild of Dean Leffingwell, Director and Chief Methodologist at Scaled Agile, Inc. Leffingwell has been a leader in the software development industry for decades, having founded Requisite, Inc., the makers of the RequisitePro requirements management tool, now part of IBMs Rational division.
According to Leffingwell, Agile methodologies alone do not address top-down questions of business strategy, as Agile teams work bottom-up. “You can’t add up opinions of people to come up with the business strategy,” explains Leffingwell. “Some things require centralized decision making.”
SAFE, therefore, provides the organizational structure for top-down, centralized decision making that works in conjunction with self-organizing Agile teams. “SAFe promotes the core values of empowerment and decentralization of control, but not the decentralization of everything,” says Leffingwell. “Cascading centralization and decentralization leaves empowerment to the troops.”
In fact, neither top-down nor bottom-up adequately describe SAFe, according to Leffingwell. “Program execution happens at the program and team levels,” he explains. “The traditional models of centralized program planning and micro-technical-management are a thing of the past with SAFe. That is empowering.”
This balance of top-down control and bottom-up empowerment has shown notable success at several enterprises. “We’ve seen extraordinary work,” Leffingwell says. “30-50% improvement in productivity and quality, as well as a 2X – 3X improvement in time to market.” Furthermore, many SAFe success stories had little or no Agile to begin with. “BMC Software, John Deere & Co, Discount Tire – none had real Agile at the start, or maybe just a few Scrum teams.”
John Deere, in fact, is one of SAFe’s most notable success stories. “We knew we needed to increase our speed to market while keeping our budget and resources static,” said Steve Harty, former Agile Release Train Manager at John Deere. “Moving our team to Scrum was scary, challenging, and liberating, all at the same time. Scrum was ‘our little secret’ that helped move our delivery time timeframe from 12-18 months to 2-4 weeks. Plus, our engineering teams were happier and customer satisfaction went up.”
Alex Yakyma is a thought leader in the SAFe community and this is a great article on the how’s and why’s related to kanban within the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).
Kanban for SAFe Teams
By Alex Yakyma
The use of Kanban techniques for managing workflow is growing in software, as well as in other industries. Originally a technique derived from lean manufacturing, Kanban is a lightweight way of visualizing and managing work of any kind. It’s easy to adopt and provides sophisticated constructs for continuing improvement as teams master the method.
While not a software-specific method by original intent, its application in software development can be quite useful. It provides a more granular view of the flow of work through the team, illustrates bottlenecks and delays to be addressed, and increases flow by application of work-in-process limits. Properly used, Kanban provides a powerful set of constructs that every software enterprise should be able to apply in the scaled systems context. This article describes how Kanban can used by SAFe Teams in the content of their Agile Release Train.
Summary: The iPhone and iPod maker finally made the leap into the mobile payments space with the launch of Apple Pay, an NFC-based contactless payment system.
Apple Launched Apple Pay
Apple has finally made its long-awaited leap into mobile payments.
The iPhone and iPad maker held another one of its insanely hyped product reveal events at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California on Tuesday, and along with confirming the anticipated launch of larger screen iPhones with a bevy of new specs and features, the consumer tech giant rolled out a comprehensive mobile payments platform that many in the industry have been waiting for.
“I would like to talk about an entirely new category of service and it’s called the wallet,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We have created an entirely new payment process and we call it Apple Pay.”
Most of those people didn’t read past the headline.
I’ll quote from one paragraph into the article:
“In its place are yellow call buttons perched waist-high within easy reach along the line for workers to hit when a problem pops up requiring help or the line to be stopped.
Toyota switched to the buttons last year at its flagship Tsutsumi assembly plant in Toyota City, during a factory renovation. In Japan, the buttons were first used by a vehicle-assembling subsidiary, Toyota Motor East Japan Inc., at a Miyagi plant.”
They got tired of the overhead rope getting in the way of flexibility in how they arranged the line, material, work flows. They improved their system. It is easier for a worker to initiate a help call (which leads to a line stop if the issue isn’t resolved quickly).
They first saw an obstacle (rope in the way) to another improvement (flexibility). They ran an experiment (at the Miyagi plant), wrung out the details, then put it into place in Tsutsumi for a larger scale trial.
What is totally consistent here is the approach to improvement.
We, once again, have confused the artifacts (overhead ropes, work documented a certain way, a method for distributing parts, an approach to tracking quality issues) with the purpose: Making gaps between “what should be” and “what actual is” every more clear so the can work on getting to the next level.
I suppose a headline that read “Toyota Replaces Overhead Rope With Buttons for Improved Flexibility” wouldn’t garner the same number of hits, nor would it trigger blog posts across the lean community, so I guess that headline worked for its intended purpose.
Here is what the andon is all about:
If anyone is looking for evidence that Toyota is somehow abandoning the principle of “Stop the line before passing along bad quality… this isn’t it.”