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Push vs. Pull
       a cultural challenge




         Stefan Roock, it-agile
stefan.roock@it-agile.de, @StefanRoock
Push vs. Pull
               a cultural challenge
         Or: Can we build a Kanban board
            from an english breakfast?




                 Stefan Roock, it-agile
        stefan.roock@it-agile.de, @StefanRoock
Or: Can we build a Kanban board from an english breakfast? I will answer this question at the
end of this presentation.
„The motivation for pursuing a pull-
                            system was [...] to find a systematic
                            way to achieve a sustainable pace of
                                           work [...]“




                    David
                  Anderson
                 in „Kanban“


David Anderson writes in his Kanban book: „The motivation for pursuing a pull-system was [...]
to find a systematic way to achieve a sustainable pace of work [...]“
Lead
      Dev.
                               Dev Team                                   Tester




I‘ d like to start with a little story that happened some years ago at on of my clients. They had
established a distributed team. The lead developer and the testers were located in Germany.
The other 8 developers were from an outsourcing partner located in the Ukraine.
Solution       Ready for
     Input                                            Dev.            Test          ...
                  Proposed           Dev.




Here is the design of the Kanban board. Someone in Germany would fill the „Prioritized“
column with new tickets. The Ukranian developers would propose a solution and move the
ticket to „Solution Proposed“.
Solution       Ready for
     Input                                            Dev.            Test          ...
                  Proposed           Dev.




The solution proposed by the Ukranian development team would be checked by the lead
developer in Germany. After the solution was approved the lead developer would move the
ticket to „Ready for Development“.
Solution       Ready for
     Input                                            Dev.            Test           ...
                  Proposed           Dev.




Then the Ukrainian developers would implement the solution and then the testers in Germany
would test it.
Lead
         Dev.


                                                                Coach
                                                                  ->
                                                                Lead
                                                                 Dev.


Shortly after we started using Kanban the lead developer became ill. The client asked me if I
could substitute him for some days. I had a rought idea about what I would have to do and I
said yes. And in the end what evil things could possibly happen?
So I started looking at the first ticket in the „Solution Proposed“ column. I recognized very
quickly that I had no clue how to find out if the proposed solution was suitable.
While I tried to figure out how to check the proposed solution I recognized tickets moving along
the Kanban board - we used Google Docs for the board and so I saw all the movements in real
time.
Solution        Ready for
                                                        Dev.             Test
     Input        Proposed             Dev.                                             ...
                                                         (8)              (8)
                      (4)              (6)




The columns after me started to drain while the WiP limit of the column before me was already
exhausted. Then I realized: I work far to slowly to supply the developers and testers with new
work. Latest tomorrow they would run out of work. And it would be my fault!
Therefore I worked overhours to keep the development engine running. That worked for a
short time but definitely wouldn‘t be a sustainable solution.
So we had installed a Kanban system with pull mechanics but it didn‘t feel like pull for me. For
me it felt more like push. The demand for work of the developers dictated me how much I
would have to do.
It is clear that the problem wasn‘t the pull system but my behaviour. I shouldn‘t have worked
overhours. Instead we should have discussed the bottleneck situation with the whole team to
find a sustainable solution.
Why didn‘t we do that? I think the reason was that we didn‘t established a collaborative culture
between Germany and the Ukraine.
„Culture eats strategy for breakfast!“
                 Peter Drucker
The learning here is that pull mechanics are not sufficient to reach pull goals like sustainable
pace. The pull mechanics have to be complemented with a cultural change. Or as Peter
Drucker states it: „Culture eats strategy for breakfast!“
Solution             Ready                Dev.
        Input
                          Proposed             for Dev.               (8)
                              (4)                 (6)




     „Culture eats strategy for breakfast!“
                 Peter Drucker
And here is the proof. You can build a Kanban board from an english breakfast. You don‘t even
need the eggs.
Push or Pull?                                                                    You have 8
                                                      How long
                                                                                   hours!
                                                     do you need
                                                       to fix it?

                                                              At least 20
                                                                hours.

                               That looks
                               really bad!                         OK, I
                                                              will do it in 4
                                                                  hours!




Let‘s look at another example from Star Treck. Please read the conversation. ... Is this a push
or a pull situation?
Push or Pull?                                                                           You have 8
                                                          How long
                                                                                          hours!
                                                         do you need
                                                           to fix it?

                                                                   At least 20
                                                                     hours.

                                  That looks
                                  really bad!                           OK, I
                                                                   will do it in 4
                                                                       hours!




     It is not determined by the method.
       It is determined by the culture!
In my optinion you simply can‘t tell if it is push or pull without looking behing the curtains. If it is
really pull or push is not only determined by the mechanics but also by the culture.
Thanx!


stefan.roock@it-agile.de
     @StefanRoock

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BeMetals Presentation_Updated_April 1, 2024.pdf
 

Pull vs. Push - a cultural challenge

  • 1. Push vs. Pull a cultural challenge Stefan Roock, it-agile stefan.roock@it-agile.de, @StefanRoock
  • 2. Push vs. Pull a cultural challenge Or: Can we build a Kanban board from an english breakfast? Stefan Roock, it-agile stefan.roock@it-agile.de, @StefanRoock Or: Can we build a Kanban board from an english breakfast? I will answer this question at the end of this presentation.
  • 3. „The motivation for pursuing a pull- system was [...] to find a systematic way to achieve a sustainable pace of work [...]“ David Anderson in „Kanban“ David Anderson writes in his Kanban book: „The motivation for pursuing a pull-system was [...] to find a systematic way to achieve a sustainable pace of work [...]“
  • 4. Lead Dev. Dev Team Tester I‘ d like to start with a little story that happened some years ago at on of my clients. They had established a distributed team. The lead developer and the testers were located in Germany. The other 8 developers were from an outsourcing partner located in the Ukraine.
  • 5. Solution Ready for Input Dev. Test ... Proposed Dev. Here is the design of the Kanban board. Someone in Germany would fill the „Prioritized“ column with new tickets. The Ukranian developers would propose a solution and move the ticket to „Solution Proposed“.
  • 6. Solution Ready for Input Dev. Test ... Proposed Dev. The solution proposed by the Ukranian development team would be checked by the lead developer in Germany. After the solution was approved the lead developer would move the ticket to „Ready for Development“.
  • 7. Solution Ready for Input Dev. Test ... Proposed Dev. Then the Ukrainian developers would implement the solution and then the testers in Germany would test it.
  • 8. Lead Dev. Coach -> Lead Dev. Shortly after we started using Kanban the lead developer became ill. The client asked me if I could substitute him for some days. I had a rought idea about what I would have to do and I said yes. And in the end what evil things could possibly happen?
  • 9. So I started looking at the first ticket in the „Solution Proposed“ column. I recognized very quickly that I had no clue how to find out if the proposed solution was suitable.
  • 10. While I tried to figure out how to check the proposed solution I recognized tickets moving along the Kanban board - we used Google Docs for the board and so I saw all the movements in real time.
  • 11. Solution Ready for Dev. Test Input Proposed Dev. ... (8) (8) (4) (6) The columns after me started to drain while the WiP limit of the column before me was already exhausted. Then I realized: I work far to slowly to supply the developers and testers with new work. Latest tomorrow they would run out of work. And it would be my fault!
  • 12. Therefore I worked overhours to keep the development engine running. That worked for a short time but definitely wouldn‘t be a sustainable solution.
  • 13. So we had installed a Kanban system with pull mechanics but it didn‘t feel like pull for me. For me it felt more like push. The demand for work of the developers dictated me how much I would have to do.
  • 14. It is clear that the problem wasn‘t the pull system but my behaviour. I shouldn‘t have worked overhours. Instead we should have discussed the bottleneck situation with the whole team to find a sustainable solution.
  • 15. Why didn‘t we do that? I think the reason was that we didn‘t established a collaborative culture between Germany and the Ukraine.
  • 16. „Culture eats strategy for breakfast!“ Peter Drucker The learning here is that pull mechanics are not sufficient to reach pull goals like sustainable pace. The pull mechanics have to be complemented with a cultural change. Or as Peter Drucker states it: „Culture eats strategy for breakfast!“
  • 17. Solution Ready Dev. Input Proposed for Dev. (8) (4) (6) „Culture eats strategy for breakfast!“ Peter Drucker And here is the proof. You can build a Kanban board from an english breakfast. You don‘t even need the eggs.
  • 18. Push or Pull? You have 8 How long hours! do you need to fix it? At least 20 hours. That looks really bad! OK, I will do it in 4 hours! Let‘s look at another example from Star Treck. Please read the conversation. ... Is this a push or a pull situation?
  • 19. Push or Pull? You have 8 How long hours! do you need to fix it? At least 20 hours. That looks really bad! OK, I will do it in 4 hours! It is not determined by the method. It is determined by the culture! In my optinion you simply can‘t tell if it is push or pull without looking behing the curtains. If it is really pull or push is not only determined by the mechanics but also by the culture.