Setting the Stage for Agile Development

At home24, we’re on a journey to become more Agile.

What is our approach?

I recently joined Home24 as the first Agile Coach here and I’m driving the initiatives to help us become more agile. I’m currently working very closely with our teams in the customer experience tribe and also educating the wider tech team. Overall, we will take a step by step approach, ensuring each member of the tech team understands what it means to be truly agile, why we are doing it and how it can create value for us.

Our first set of trainings are also underway, namely, an Introduction to Kanban and Lean Thinking. We’ve had 3 sessions to date and these have been very well received so far.

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Raising awareness of Kanban and Lean Thinking

When it comes to change I believe that the “big bang” approach usually does not end well. If we at Home24 would just go directly with Scrum with all teams we would need to change a lot of things at once. We would also need to hire a lot of Scrum Masters at the same time. With adopting Kanban & Lean thinking, the approach is quite different. The Kanban method is an evolutionary approach to software development. We start with what we have now, focusing on understanding our current system, defining our desired end-state and improving in small steps. At the beginning, the most important part is to make everyone aware of queue sizes and metrics like lead time, cycle time and throughput…

Implementing Kanban practices is not enough, however. The second thing I am looking for at organisation level is a focus on value, the flow of work and continuous improvement.  As a first step, I try to explain concepts like lean thinking, 3M, principles of lean software development and the seven wastes of software development. In my view, deep understanding of lean concepts can help the organisation to transform in more sustainable way than hiring an army of agile coaches.

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Overview of training content

I created this training a couple for years ago and it’s based on what people need to know when they are thinking about being truly Agile in their work. The training is divided into 4 parts. In the first part, I focus on the history of management, especially on the reasoning behind scientific management and what’s wrong with it from today’s perspective. Then we learn basics of Kanban through simulation. For this purpose I use Featureban – a game created by Agendashift. This is the most important activity because people learn what the benefits of daily standups, visualization, WIP limits, working agreements, metrics and classes of service are. After the simulation, we focus more on the history of Lean and Toyota. Then we do one more activity where we connect Kanban practices and values. I finish this training by focussing on what the thinking behind Toyota Production System (Lean) is and also on the principles of Lean software development.

kanban

Conclusion

Even though the training only takes four hours I was really happy with the outcome. Immediately after the first training my colleagues decided that they want to try what they learned in their teams and they also want to have their colleagues to attend the training.

Some of the positive effects so far are:

  • In one of the teams we already started with a physical board which is giving us a better visibility of current work and other important things for the team.
  • In all teams, we improved daily standups by focusing on the flow of work. This enabled us to significantly reduce queue sizes and put more focus on getting things done.
  • Data is collected and used for retrospectives.

Kanban and Lean Thinking are not just for tech teams. If you are interested in learning more about them you can check out this youtube playlist I created of videos on the topic. If you are interested in insights from our Agile journey you might also follow our blog. I will regularly share our learnings and ideas.

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