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Systems Concepts for
Agile Practitioners
Agile San Diego
5/1/14
Roger Brown, CSC, CST
The significant problems we face
today cannot be solved at the
same level of thinking at which
they were created.
- Albert Einstein
Why?
Chaotic
Complex
Complicated
Simple
Human History
Technological advance and growing
population in a finite space have
increased the complexity of human
interactive structures.
Systems are greater than the sum of their parts.
System properties and behaviors emerge from the
combination of its constituent parts
Reductionism is not
sufficient. Our systems
are dynamic and
driven by nonlinear
effects that are not
easily understood.
Helpful Theoretical Models
Queuing Theory – Erlang 1910
Lean Thinking – Deming 1940
System Dynamics – Forrester 1950
Automata Theory – 1940 Ulam and von Neumann
Network Theory - 1970
Complexity Theory - 1970
Learning Organization – 1990 Senge
A model is a simplification of reality
intended to promote understanding.
System Dynamics
A system is an entity which maintains its
existence through the mutual interaction of its
parts.
- Gene Bellinger
Orderly processes in creating human judgment
and intuition lead people to wrong decisions
when faced with complex and highly interacting
systems.
- Jay Forrester
Counter-intuitive Behavior
System behaviors come from structures,
not from coefficients
Feedback Mechanisms
Reinforcing feedback Balancing feedback
+
Credit Card
Balance
Credit Card
Interest
+
+
Body
Temp
Sweat
-
3 examples from www.beyondconnectingthedots.com
Feedback Delay
Time
DesiredState
Long delay causes
wider swings
Short delay
converges sooner
Agile/Lean achieve smoother flow
and reduced risk by shortening
the delay time for feedback
Cost of Change and Feedback Delay
Lean Thinking
95% of variation in the performance of a system
(organization) is caused by the system itself and
only 5% is caused by the people.
- W. Edwards Demming
Misconception easily turns into common sense.
- Taiichi Ohno
Push & Pull Systems
Push systems overwhelm capacity, creating
turbulence, rework, waste and delay
Pull systems have a steady flow that
provides predictability
♫
Push
Push Pull
Make a plan Have a queue of work and a goal
Track % completion of plan Measure throughput and work done
Buffer plan for contingencies Small, frequent tasks to manage
variety
Plan decides what to do next People decide what to do next
Long feedback delay Continuous short feedback loops
Demand exceeds capacity Demand limited to capacity
Fixed scope and time Fixed WIP
Forecast based on estimates Forecast based on data
Little’s Law
Cycle Time = Number of Items in Process/System Capacity
?
Single Piece Flow
Do This
Don’t Do This
Unintended Consequences
Local Optimization
A focus on one property can have unintended
impact on the system as a whole
Goodhart’s Law
The moment a measure
becomes a target,
it ceases to be useful as
a measure.
Story Points/Sprint
Complexity Theory
Complicated
Complex
Click pictures to view examples.
• Many different
parts.
• Can take it apart
and reassemble it.
• If one part fails, it
all fails.
• Many similar parts acting
independently within social rules.
• Aggregate behavior cannot be
predicted from individual part
behaviors.
• Still “works” if a part is removed.
Cynefin Framework
Sense
Input
What our senses tell us
Probe
How we use our senses to
get new information
Mental Models
What sense we make of new
information
Actions, Experiments
What makes sense to do next
Sense-Making
Tools
- anecdote.com
- getreframer.com
- sensemaker-suite.com
We make decisions based on our
patterns and mental models,
not on information or theory.
Learning Organizations
1.Systems Thinking
2.Personal Mastery
3.Mental Models
4.Building Shared Vision
5.Team Learning
Working as a
Team
Organizations where people continually expand
their capacity to create the results they truly
desire, where new and expansive patterns of
thinking are nurtured, where collective
aspiration is set free and where people are
continually learning how to learn together.
- Peter Senge The Fifth Discipline, 1990
Urgent Not Urgent
Important
I
• Crises
• Pressing
Problems
• Deadline Driven
Projects,
Meetings, etc.
II
• Preparations
• Learning
• Kaizen Events
• Relationship Building
• True Recreation
NotImportant
III
• Interruptions
• Some phone calls
• Some email
• Someone else’s
emergency
IV
• Trivia
• Busy work
• Time wasters
• “Escape” activities
When do we get time to improve?
If we don’t spend any time
sharpening the saw, we will
have to work harder and
harder to get the same
results.
- Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of
Highly Effective People, 2004
By intentionally creating
downtime, or ‘slack’,
management will find a
much-needed opportunity to
build a ‘capacity to change’
into an otherwise strained
enterprise that will help
companies respond more
successfully to constantly
evolving conditions.
- Tom DeMarco, Slack, 2002
Learning Levels
Single Loop: tweak the parameters
Double Loop: experiment with the process
Triple Loop: learn how to learn
 Retrospectives
 Communities of Practice
 Book Club
 Brown Bag Seminars
 Shadowing
 Story Telling
 Knowledge Management
 Brainstorming
 Skills Exchange
Team Learning Tools
References
Books:
• Thinking in Systems : A Primer – Meadows
• The Fifth Discipline and its Fieldbook – Senge
• Business Dynamics - Sterman
• The Principles of Product Development Flow: Reinertsen
• The Systems Bible – Gall
• 10 Steps to a Learning Organization – Kline and Saunders
• Learning in Action – Garvin
• Systems Thinking Playbook – Sweeny and Meadows
Websites
- www.beyondconnectingthedots.com/ - Bellinger
- www.cognitive-edge.com – Snowden
- www.systemdynamics.org
Presenter
Roger Brown
• Agile Coach
• Scrum Alliance
• M.S. System Dynamics, Dartmouth College 1977
• Contact
 Email: roger@agilecrossing.com
 Twitter: rwbrown
 Blog: www.agileCoachJournal.com
 LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerwbrown

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Systems Concepts for Agile Practitioners

  • 1. Systems Concepts for Agile Practitioners Agile San Diego 5/1/14 Roger Brown, CSC, CST
  • 2. The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking at which they were created. - Albert Einstein
  • 3. Why? Chaotic Complex Complicated Simple Human History Technological advance and growing population in a finite space have increased the complexity of human interactive structures.
  • 4. Systems are greater than the sum of their parts. System properties and behaviors emerge from the combination of its constituent parts Reductionism is not sufficient. Our systems are dynamic and driven by nonlinear effects that are not easily understood.
  • 5. Helpful Theoretical Models Queuing Theory – Erlang 1910 Lean Thinking – Deming 1940 System Dynamics – Forrester 1950 Automata Theory – 1940 Ulam and von Neumann Network Theory - 1970 Complexity Theory - 1970 Learning Organization – 1990 Senge A model is a simplification of reality intended to promote understanding.
  • 6. System Dynamics A system is an entity which maintains its existence through the mutual interaction of its parts. - Gene Bellinger Orderly processes in creating human judgment and intuition lead people to wrong decisions when faced with complex and highly interacting systems. - Jay Forrester
  • 7. Counter-intuitive Behavior System behaviors come from structures, not from coefficients
  • 8. Feedback Mechanisms Reinforcing feedback Balancing feedback + Credit Card Balance Credit Card Interest + + Body Temp Sweat - 3 examples from www.beyondconnectingthedots.com
  • 9. Feedback Delay Time DesiredState Long delay causes wider swings Short delay converges sooner Agile/Lean achieve smoother flow and reduced risk by shortening the delay time for feedback
  • 10. Cost of Change and Feedback Delay
  • 11. Lean Thinking 95% of variation in the performance of a system (organization) is caused by the system itself and only 5% is caused by the people. - W. Edwards Demming Misconception easily turns into common sense. - Taiichi Ohno
  • 12. Push & Pull Systems Push systems overwhelm capacity, creating turbulence, rework, waste and delay Pull systems have a steady flow that provides predictability ♫ Push
  • 13. Push Pull Make a plan Have a queue of work and a goal Track % completion of plan Measure throughput and work done Buffer plan for contingencies Small, frequent tasks to manage variety Plan decides what to do next People decide what to do next Long feedback delay Continuous short feedback loops Demand exceeds capacity Demand limited to capacity Fixed scope and time Fixed WIP Forecast based on estimates Forecast based on data
  • 14. Little’s Law Cycle Time = Number of Items in Process/System Capacity
  • 15. ? Single Piece Flow Do This Don’t Do This
  • 17. Local Optimization A focus on one property can have unintended impact on the system as a whole
  • 18. Goodhart’s Law The moment a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be useful as a measure. Story Points/Sprint
  • 19. Complexity Theory Complicated Complex Click pictures to view examples. • Many different parts. • Can take it apart and reassemble it. • If one part fails, it all fails. • Many similar parts acting independently within social rules. • Aggregate behavior cannot be predicted from individual part behaviors. • Still “works” if a part is removed.
  • 21. Sense Input What our senses tell us Probe How we use our senses to get new information Mental Models What sense we make of new information Actions, Experiments What makes sense to do next
  • 22. Sense-Making Tools - anecdote.com - getreframer.com - sensemaker-suite.com We make decisions based on our patterns and mental models, not on information or theory.
  • 23. Learning Organizations 1.Systems Thinking 2.Personal Mastery 3.Mental Models 4.Building Shared Vision 5.Team Learning
  • 24. Working as a Team Organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free and where people are continually learning how to learn together. - Peter Senge The Fifth Discipline, 1990
  • 25. Urgent Not Urgent Important I • Crises • Pressing Problems • Deadline Driven Projects, Meetings, etc. II • Preparations • Learning • Kaizen Events • Relationship Building • True Recreation NotImportant III • Interruptions • Some phone calls • Some email • Someone else’s emergency IV • Trivia • Busy work • Time wasters • “Escape” activities When do we get time to improve? If we don’t spend any time sharpening the saw, we will have to work harder and harder to get the same results. - Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 2004 By intentionally creating downtime, or ‘slack’, management will find a much-needed opportunity to build a ‘capacity to change’ into an otherwise strained enterprise that will help companies respond more successfully to constantly evolving conditions. - Tom DeMarco, Slack, 2002
  • 26. Learning Levels Single Loop: tweak the parameters Double Loop: experiment with the process Triple Loop: learn how to learn
  • 27.  Retrospectives  Communities of Practice  Book Club  Brown Bag Seminars  Shadowing  Story Telling  Knowledge Management  Brainstorming  Skills Exchange Team Learning Tools
  • 28. References Books: • Thinking in Systems : A Primer – Meadows • The Fifth Discipline and its Fieldbook – Senge • Business Dynamics - Sterman • The Principles of Product Development Flow: Reinertsen • The Systems Bible – Gall • 10 Steps to a Learning Organization – Kline and Saunders • Learning in Action – Garvin • Systems Thinking Playbook – Sweeny and Meadows Websites - www.beyondconnectingthedots.com/ - Bellinger - www.cognitive-edge.com – Snowden - www.systemdynamics.org
  • 29. Presenter Roger Brown • Agile Coach • Scrum Alliance • M.S. System Dynamics, Dartmouth College 1977 • Contact  Email: roger@agilecrossing.com  Twitter: rwbrown  Blog: www.agileCoachJournal.com  LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerwbrown