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The LeSS adoption principle „deep and narrow over broad and shallow“ in practice

Published in LeSS Track

Summary

We will investigate how one of the guiding adoption principles of the LeSS scaling framework affects the success of an agile adoption.

Description

In the introductory session the speaker will explain basic concepts such as transition lifecycle, the idea of a "full-stack" agile adoption and the importance of - focusing on creating light towers that include all adoption layers such as

  • establishing cross-functional and self-managing feature teams
  • continuous integration development culture
  • automated delivery pipeline
  • establishing whole-product focus
  • extending the DoD to cover everything necessary to deliver the PSPI as the sprint result
  • organizational descaling, e. g. removing managing roles (e. g. Defect Manager, Release Manager, Test Manager) and replacing fake Product Owners with empowered Product Owners
  • closing the feedback loop with end customers (users) to enter into a product innovation working mode.

 

The progress in a transition lifecycle is measured in terms of approaching the organization’s Perfection Vision. In LeSS, the Perfection Vision represents the target picture for the ideal way of working.

The idea behind the LeSS adoption principle “deep and narrow over broad and shallow” is that the focus should be on creating light-towers that are both tightly aligned with the organization’s Perfection Vision and implement the adoption layers explained above. “This minimizes risk and if you fail it triggers a focused learning opportunity. And when you succeed it creates a positive “word on the floor” that’s vital nourishment for further adoption.” (less.works) Hence, a light-tower covers substantial improvements on a diverse range of adoption layers and gives the organization an idea of the concrete value of the agile way or working.

 

In the second part of the workshop we will work in groups and discuss different aspects of the topic. Each group will pick one of the following topics:

What are the actual layers of a “full-stack” agile adoption ?

  • why is it important to balance the adoption across those layers?
  • how are the adoption layers related to the key benefits of the agile way of working?
  • are there any concepts behind the layers related to engineering ?

What are the characteristics of a "shallow" agile adoption?

  • does shallow mean not successful. if yes, why?
  • what might lead to a shallow agile adoption?
  • are systemic improvements possible while avoiding a shallow adoption?

How to choose organizational units for a deep and narrow agile implementation?

  • what are the prerequisites for a “local” agile adoption (e. g. in an product area) ?
  • which other organizational units beyond teams are concerned?
  • why is a deep and narrow adoption not a local optimization?

Which are adequate improvement goals to cover the full range of an agile adoption?

  • consider improvement goals related to engineering
  • consider improvement goals related to team structure
  • consider improvement goals related to organizational descaling

 

To maintain focus of the discussion, groups will receive three questions to guide the discussions. A flipchart is provided to help the group structuring the outcome.

In the third part, group representatives will present the group’s proceedings using the flipchart and the stage is opened for questions and discussion. The speaker will contribute with in-depth comments and with his experience from agile transitions.

The comments include:

How is the successful application of the „deep and narrow over broad and shallow” principle dependent on implementing the other two adoption principles in LeSS (“Top-Down and Bottom-Up” and “Use Volunteering”) and how this leads to systemic improvement dynamics

 What are the dynamics that lead to a shallow agile adoption? from the speaker’s experience, the level of presence of asking the “Why?” question is a decisive factor. Without an initial kick-off discussion to determine the business goals and the Perfection Vision and without tracking the progress and inspect and adapt, agile adoption endeavors frequently lead to Cargo Cult and Renaming Game. The terms will be explained. This is reflected in Larman’s Laws of Organizational Behaviour.

Diving deeper into the idea of a transition lifecycle, the speaker will explain the Shu-Ha-Ri concept. The essential transition from the Shu (“doing by obeying”) level into the Ha (“adapting by experimenting”) level needs continuous reflection on the progress of approaching the goals. Without a clear idea of the business goals and the Perfection Vision, the outcome of experiments cannot be effectively evaluated will lead to local optimization

According to the speaker’s experience, the consequence of a shallow adoption are that a) people want to define the “new agile process” to tick the agile compliance requirement, b) on the Gemba (working place) the defined “process” is perceived as decoupled from the real problems and challenges and c) managers typically are reporting upwards in their line that “teams are fully working in agile”.

As culture follows structure, systemic changes are needed. However, systemic changes that are Top-Down enforced will be perceived as new compliance rules. Volunteering drives Bottom-Up dynamics and supplies the blood into improvement dynamics and the credibility of the adoption endeavor.

 

 

Schedule and workshop approach (based on 90 mins.)

  • Introduction (15 mins.)
  • Table Groups of 5 to 10 people, time-boxed 15 mins.
  • Presentation of the results by group representatives - time-boxed 3 min.
  • Discussion with the whole audience and additional input from the speaker. 7 - 10 mins

(Total for 4 groups: 45-50 minutes)

  • Overall summary and conclusions provided by the speaker: 5 - 10 mins

 

Learning Objectives

Participants

    • have reflected that an agile adoption needs to be accomplished in a lifecycle and that progress should be measured based on the Perfection Vision and the business goals
    • have acquired insights into how the principle is tightly related to the other two LeSS adoption principles
    • have improved their understanding (1) why an agile adoption is a “full-stack endeavor” and thus requires building light-towers with volunteers and (2) of the dynamics which lead to shallow adoptions.
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Less Transformation Game

Published in LeSS Track

Summary

Whenever an organisation becomes agile, many questions and obstacles can arise. This game puts you in the position of an organizational designer. It simulates obstacles, concerns, and uncertainties when building feature teams. It helps to understand better what transitioning means.

Description

In this game you will work with a set of individuals with specific skill sets. You will recieve a set fo cards; each card stands for one individual in your organization. This set of individuals is prepared. For the sake of simplicity only primary skills are shown. 

The product you develop is an e-commerce platform. This platform can be sold off-the-shelve, but usually your clients require certain customization in every component. Maintenance and support, as well as hosting is part of your company’s portfolio.

The game is played in two iterations. The goal of the first iteration is to transition a sub-group towards an agile setup. E.g. you might consider the first area being established. Think of constraints, limitations, and what happens to the people remaining in the traditional structure. Think of leadership and management positions and what might happen to them.

Remember:

  • An area consists of 4 to 8 teams
  • Your organization has decided, that each team has to have between 4 and 7 team members
  • The organization wants to move a maximum of 8 teams to the agile structure at once.
  • Teams have to be cross-functional, self-organized, and as stable as possible.

 

In the second iteration, all the remaining people of the traditional structure are supposed to move to the agile organisation. Think about activities required to include them. Think about concerns, obstacles, limitations, and potential solutions. Think about the social aspects as well as support required.

The underlying principles can be found in Scrum and LeSS adoption guides. Rules in place are LeSS rules, like the size of Feature Teams, sizes of areas, and roles in LeSS. For those unfamiliar with these rules, they will be explained. 

Enjoy this experience as a decision maker or a coach. Play the role you like. Or just observe and see what challenges others face. Either way, you will remember this game.

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Agile Transformation der KAGes

Published in Agile Transitions

Summary

Die Steiermärkischen Krankenanstalten sind der größte Arbeitgeber und Gesundheitsdienstleister der Steiermark: kann agile Transformation gelingen?

Description

Die KAGes behauptet von sich selbst, ein agiles Unternehmen zu sein. Dieser Vortrag beleuchtet, ob das Wort 'agil' lediglich in den Unternehmensgrundsätzen vorkommt oder ob es tatsächlich Bestrebungen gibt, agil zu sein. Auch das Wort selbst wird hinterfragt: ist doch das deutsche Wort 'agil' nicht immer so verstanden, wie es einem 'agile mindset' entspricht. Der Vortrag geht somit in die Tiefe der Organisationsstruktur eines Unternehmens mit 17.000 MitarbeiterInnen, das in einer Branche tätig ist, die traditioneller Weise von starken und starren Hierarchien geprägt ist. Der Vortrag untersucht, ob disruptive Elemente von außen kommend das Unternehmen in seiner eigentlichen Aufgabenerfüllung gefährden oder ob es gar möglich ist - oder sogar schon passiert! - sich intern neu - und wenn schon, dann agil - aufstellt.

Learning Objectives

Das Gesundheitswesen betrifft uns alle: ob niedergelassene Ärzte, Gesundheitszentren, healthy ageing, Heimpflege oder Universitätkliniken - die Aufgaben all dieser Strukturen bleiben im Grunde gleich und ändern sich dabei massiv. Diesen Widerspruch aufzulösen und dafür Ansätze zu finden - auch für große Organisationen - ist der Anspruch dieses Vortrags.

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