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Lean On Agile
Getting the Best of Both Worlds
About Me
● 18 years in Silicon Valley. Wrote
lots of code.
● Early adopter of Agile, Lean,
Kanban, and Lean Startup.
● Worked on 6 startups. Had titles
at startups like VPE, CTO.
● Coached dozens of digital
product teams in enterprise.
● Wrote a book on startups:
startuppatterns.com.
About Blackwillow Studios
We build Popup Incubators for large
organizations, bringing coherence and solidity to
their innovation programs.
● Teaching large organizations how to
develop products like a startup.
● Building bridges between enterprise and
startup community.
● Develop a digital product in 12 weeks.
Agile and Lean, historically...
Agile + Lean, historically
● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983).
Agile + Lean, historically
● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983).
● Taichii Ohno (Toyota Production System).
Agile + Lean, historically
● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983).
● Taichii Ohno (Toyota Production System).
● John Krafcik coined it “Lean” production in an article in
1988. The term stuck.
Agile + Lean, historically
● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983).
● Taichii Ohno (Toyota Production System).
● John Krafcik coined it “Lean” production in an article in
1988. The term stuck.
● Enter Scrum & eXtreme Programming.
Agile + Lean, historically
● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983).
● Taichii Ohno (Toyota Production System).
● John Krafcik coined it “Lean” production in an article in
1988. The term stuck.
● Enter Scrum & eXtreme Programming.
● Kanban Method
Agile’s Impact
● Stable and reliable delivery of software
● Meets needs of users
● Engineering practices have evolved
● But something’s missing...
Lean Startup
● Solve real problems that real customers have.
● Reduce bigger risks into smaller risks.
● Iterate quickly based on market feedback.
● Be data-informed, and challenge your deeply-held
assumptions continuously.
Lean Startup
● Turn assumptions into hypotheses to be tested.
● Emphasize learning > building things.
● MVP: Minimal Viable Product.
● The Build -> Measure -> Learn loop.
● Metrics -> Only the ones that matter.
Quick aside...
“Lean” is not “Lean Startup”
Lean product development is
concerned with optimizing the
overall value chain. Think:
continuous improvement, workflows,
Kanban, etc.
Lean Startup is the use of
experiments to reduce risk about
the market for a proposed product
or service.
Exercise: The Persona
Break Time!
Team Structure
Importance of Team Structure
● Cross-functional
● Dedicated
● Colocated
You must have at least two out of three!
Team Structure
Why Cross-functional?
Cross-functional teams create better
products than teams organized into
functional silos.
The feedback loops are tighter, and
so there is less rework and less
miscommunication.
Team Structure
Why Dedicated?
Tacit knowledge develops over
time, and can't really be measured
or taught.
A team that grows its tacit
knowledge can do more in less time
and avoid more mistakes.
Team Structure
Why Co-located?
Co-located teams develop better
bonds of trust with their teammates.
There are faster feedback loops,
more quick, informal decision
making, and fewer meetings.
Team size affects the volume of communication.
A team of size n means that there are n(n-1)/2 possible communication paths
between one team member and any other team member.
● A team of 3 people = 3 communication paths.
● A team of 4 people = 6 communication paths.
● A team of 5 people = 10 communication paths.
● A team of 8 people = 28 communication paths.
● A team of 15 people = 105 communication paths.
Optimal team size is between 5 and 8 people. And 8 people is still pushing it!
The Culture
Importance of Team Culture
● Everyone on the team is values-aligned.
● The vision and strategy are crystal clear.
● Safe-to-fail experimentation is encouraged.
Importance of Team Culture
● Establish team working agreements at the beginning.
● Have retrospectives frequently.
● Encourage direct, and honest communication.
Also, co-location makes culture development easier.
The Process
Customer
Development
Validate your assumptions
State hypotheses before designing
experiments.
Everyone on the team talks to
customers.
One at a time. No focus groups.
Kanban
Make all work visible
Use a visual system for all work.
Do only one thing at a time.
Measure cycle time, not utilization.
Cadence
Daily, Weekly, Monthly
Daily stand-ups.
Weekly planning.
Monthly retrospectives.
Track Progress
User Stories or Experiments?
Experiments on a weekly cadence.
User stories to build the
experiment’s features.
Measure both speed and learning.
Exercise: Problem Interviews
In the wild...
Approaches to Lean + Agile
● Nesting Lean Startup tactics inside your Agile sprints.
○ User stories drive interviews or other experiments. Can be muddy, confusing.
● Nesting Agile inside your Lean Startup loop.
○ Better, but tends to embed “prototype” code in production by accident or urgency (tech debt).
● The “dual track” or “bi-modal” approach.
○ Entirely separate team for innovation versus team for scaling proven ideas.
○ Slow, lots of information lost between teams, plus tendency to over-engineer solution.
How we do it...
● Mix of internal and external talent.
● Time-boxed with a clear goal.
● Blend Lean and Agile.
● Keep the team dedicated and off site!
Blackwillow Studios Incubators (for example)
Questions?

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Lean on Agile: Getting the Best of Both Worlds

  • 1. Lean On Agile Getting the Best of Both Worlds
  • 2. About Me ● 18 years in Silicon Valley. Wrote lots of code. ● Early adopter of Agile, Lean, Kanban, and Lean Startup. ● Worked on 6 startups. Had titles at startups like VPE, CTO. ● Coached dozens of digital product teams in enterprise. ● Wrote a book on startups: startuppatterns.com.
  • 3. About Blackwillow Studios We build Popup Incubators for large organizations, bringing coherence and solidity to their innovation programs. ● Teaching large organizations how to develop products like a startup. ● Building bridges between enterprise and startup community. ● Develop a digital product in 12 weeks.
  • 4. Agile and Lean, historically...
  • 5. Agile + Lean, historically ● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983).
  • 6. Agile + Lean, historically ● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983). ● Taichii Ohno (Toyota Production System).
  • 7. Agile + Lean, historically ● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983). ● Taichii Ohno (Toyota Production System). ● John Krafcik coined it “Lean” production in an article in 1988. The term stuck.
  • 8. Agile + Lean, historically ● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983). ● Taichii Ohno (Toyota Production System). ● John Krafcik coined it “Lean” production in an article in 1988. The term stuck. ● Enter Scrum & eXtreme Programming.
  • 9. Agile + Lean, historically ● W. Edwards Deming (1900 - 1983). ● Taichii Ohno (Toyota Production System). ● John Krafcik coined it “Lean” production in an article in 1988. The term stuck. ● Enter Scrum & eXtreme Programming. ● Kanban Method
  • 10. Agile’s Impact ● Stable and reliable delivery of software ● Meets needs of users ● Engineering practices have evolved ● But something’s missing...
  • 11. Lean Startup ● Solve real problems that real customers have. ● Reduce bigger risks into smaller risks. ● Iterate quickly based on market feedback. ● Be data-informed, and challenge your deeply-held assumptions continuously.
  • 12. Lean Startup ● Turn assumptions into hypotheses to be tested. ● Emphasize learning > building things. ● MVP: Minimal Viable Product. ● The Build -> Measure -> Learn loop. ● Metrics -> Only the ones that matter.
  • 13. Quick aside... “Lean” is not “Lean Startup” Lean product development is concerned with optimizing the overall value chain. Think: continuous improvement, workflows, Kanban, etc. Lean Startup is the use of experiments to reduce risk about the market for a proposed product or service.
  • 17. Importance of Team Structure ● Cross-functional ● Dedicated ● Colocated You must have at least two out of three!
  • 18. Team Structure Why Cross-functional? Cross-functional teams create better products than teams organized into functional silos. The feedback loops are tighter, and so there is less rework and less miscommunication.
  • 19. Team Structure Why Dedicated? Tacit knowledge develops over time, and can't really be measured or taught. A team that grows its tacit knowledge can do more in less time and avoid more mistakes.
  • 20. Team Structure Why Co-located? Co-located teams develop better bonds of trust with their teammates. There are faster feedback loops, more quick, informal decision making, and fewer meetings.
  • 21. Team size affects the volume of communication. A team of size n means that there are n(n-1)/2 possible communication paths between one team member and any other team member. ● A team of 3 people = 3 communication paths. ● A team of 4 people = 6 communication paths. ● A team of 5 people = 10 communication paths. ● A team of 8 people = 28 communication paths. ● A team of 15 people = 105 communication paths. Optimal team size is between 5 and 8 people. And 8 people is still pushing it!
  • 23. Importance of Team Culture ● Everyone on the team is values-aligned. ● The vision and strategy are crystal clear. ● Safe-to-fail experimentation is encouraged.
  • 24. Importance of Team Culture ● Establish team working agreements at the beginning. ● Have retrospectives frequently. ● Encourage direct, and honest communication. Also, co-location makes culture development easier.
  • 26. Customer Development Validate your assumptions State hypotheses before designing experiments. Everyone on the team talks to customers. One at a time. No focus groups.
  • 27. Kanban Make all work visible Use a visual system for all work. Do only one thing at a time. Measure cycle time, not utilization.
  • 28. Cadence Daily, Weekly, Monthly Daily stand-ups. Weekly planning. Monthly retrospectives.
  • 29. Track Progress User Stories or Experiments? Experiments on a weekly cadence. User stories to build the experiment’s features. Measure both speed and learning.
  • 32. Approaches to Lean + Agile ● Nesting Lean Startup tactics inside your Agile sprints. ○ User stories drive interviews or other experiments. Can be muddy, confusing. ● Nesting Agile inside your Lean Startup loop. ○ Better, but tends to embed “prototype” code in production by accident or urgency (tech debt). ● The “dual track” or “bi-modal” approach. ○ Entirely separate team for innovation versus team for scaling proven ideas. ○ Slow, lots of information lost between teams, plus tendency to over-engineer solution.
  • 33. How we do it...
  • 34. ● Mix of internal and external talent. ● Time-boxed with a clear goal. ● Blend Lean and Agile. ● Keep the team dedicated and off site! Blackwillow Studios Incubators (for example)