Dec 3 – Build a solid foundation or the Snowman will fall over


To build a Lean or Agile organization there is a need of a solid foundation. It is just like when you build a snowman, you need to roll a large ball to form the solid base. If you don’t make the base solid, the snowman will fall over when you start to add on top.

So what is the solid foundation of Lean and Agile?

For me the foundation of Lean and Agile mainly contains these two parts:

  • Customer value first
  • Continuous Learning/Inspect and Adapt

Customer value first

Both Lean and Agile, in my view, stands on the solid foundation of delivering value to the customer. In Lean we often look at our processes (value stream mapping) in terms of value adding and non-value adding work, from the customers perspective. All non-value adding work is considered waste and should be eliminated if possible.

In Agile the focus on customer value is even at the top of the principles in the Agile Manifesto.

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

Continuous Learning/Inspect and Adapt

In Lean continuous learning and improvement is fundamental. At the core of almost everything in Lean you will find the PDCA-cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act). Kaizen is about making small everyday changes that you hope will lead to improvements that takes you closer to your vision of perfection. Kaizen is all about learning. We make changes to create an understanding how things work. When we understand how things work we can make improvements.

In many Agile frameworks/methods you will find Inspect and Adapt as a core tenant. It is even the first sentence of the Agile manifesto:

We are uncovering better ways[learning] of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

One of the most important part of Scrum is Inspect and Adapt. The Sprint time box is a way to create learning by forming a Sprint hypothesis and then evaluate if that hypothesis was validated on in-validated at the end of the time box. You also have the Sprint Retrospective that should help you learn what can be improved.

So my conclusion:

  • You need to keep focus on the customer and what they see as value
  • You need to build a culture of Continuous Learning.

I also think that the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata is a great way to build a Continuous Learning culture.

This is my Lean/Agile Advent Calendar. I will publish a short post on a Lean/Agile topic every day up until Christmas. I will based each days topic on what is behind the door in the LEGO® City Advent Calendar.  So be sure to check back every day!

DISCLAIMER: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this post and blog in any way.


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