KATA – Habits for Lean learning

Here are my slides from my talk KATA – Habits for Lean learning at Agile Australia 2016 in Melbourne.

Learn how to build a Lean learning culture at every level of your organisation. In this presentation from the LEGO enthusiast and Agile Coach at King Hakan Forss, you will discover how the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata can form the foundational habits of a Lean learning organisation. You will be introduced to two core habits and how they will help you to create an organisation of learners that will improve your business.


Lean Agile Scotland – The RED brick cancer goes to Edinburgh

Lean Agile Scotland 2013

Come and join med at Lean Agile Scotland on the 19th of September and listen to my presentation on The RED brick cancer.

It really looks like it going to be an interesting conference with lots of great speakers and as much as four parallel tracks!

To learn more and and signing up for the conference please visit http://www.leanagilescotland.com/

How can we help Kanban go mainstream – Kanban Leadership Retreat 2012 session #klrat

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In this session we talked about how we can help Kanban Crossing the Chasm.

There are signs that Kanban is moving out of the early adopters phase and a new way of getting the message out is needed to grow the use of Kanban and the market.

Crossing the Chasm

Image from the exandin blog

We used the model from the book Crossing the Chasm and started to analyze Kanban and it’s market. By using the model we where able to explore where pieces are missing and how Kanban may be perceived in the market.

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A very interesting session that spawned at least three new sessions for day 3:Recipes for improvement, Compelling reasons to buy Kanban, Explore “whole product solution”

Kanban Leadership Retreat 2012 summary #klrat

This is the second time I have had the great opportunity to attend a Kanban Leadership Retreat organized by David J. Anderson and Associate. The Kanban Leadership Retreat is an invitation only unconference for those who have attended the David J. Anderson and Associates Kanban Leadership/Coaching Workshops and a few notable leaders in the Kanban community.

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This year we meet in the fantastic Mayrhofen in Austria between the 20-22 June. This was my first time in the alps and I just loved it. A small town with lovely people and a great atmosphere. I will definitely try to come back.

This was an unconference which means that there is no predefined sessions. The sessions and the schedule is created by the attendees. The conference days was divided into to parts:

  • A morning session up until lunch
  • An evening session starting at 18:00

From lunch to the evening sessions we had free time. This really created the opportunity for people to continuing the discussions. Many of the most interesting discussions where outside the sessions as usual.

In the  afternoon break most people headed out for some activates in the area. Doing things like hiking, rafting, paragliding or just taking it easy drinking some beer and reflecting on the sessions. I decided to use this time for some bike riding up the mountains as there are so few real up hill challenges in Stockholm. This also gave me time for reflections.

It was great fun but hard work See:Ride 1, Ride 2, Ride 3, Ride 4, Ride 5

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Thank you David for the joining me on the second ride and pacing me to the top. It was also great to meet at the top for a beer on my forth ride.

Day 1 – planning

The conference program started with dinner and session planning late on the 20th. Before we headed for a pub we did the schedule for the first day of sessions.

Day 2 – first day of sessions

This was the scheduled sessions for day 2

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Kanban is not just IT
Spreading Kanban to other knowledge work
Squeeze me don’t tease me How can we help Kanban go mainstream – “Crossing the Chasm” overview/planning*
Cool Kanban systems
Holistic view of process
Expand, Expand, Expand, Some Collapse
Lean Startup
Kanban Kata**
How to enable executive decision making
How do we make Kanban useful at the executive level without changing the nature of it(flow)
Shared service teams working on projects, releases AND ongoing work Coaching definition of exit
Identify provocative catalyzation patters
Behavioral change
Approaches to change with Kanban*
Measuring respect for people What the F*** is Pull Portfolio Kanban
Kanban at portfolio level*
Change vs. Transition    

* The sessions I attended. ** the sessions I hosted

This was a very interesting day with lots of interesting session. My session in Kanban Kata went very well and it created a lot of interest. I had planed to run through a presentation and after that dive into defining new Kanban Katas but we ended up discussing the Toyota Kata concept for the whole 90 min and some more Smile

I also found the session on coaching exit criteria to be very interesting.

At the end of day 2 we did some session harvesting and scheduling of the day sessions. As we scheduled session all through the evening we had to extend the day another hour.

Day 3 – second day of sessions

The result of the harvesting was this schedule for day 3

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Images cutesy of Paul Klipp

Identify provocatory patterns
As a coach/practitioner I want patterns that can help me help people see change is required
Are the practices in the right order? Shallow – Deep** Systemic Flow Mapping + Rightshifting
Compelling reasons to buy Kanban
(“Crossing the Chasm”)
Not unique advantage…
What’s the measure for progress on each reason
??? of change and how to deal with it
(follow up + more in-depth of change vs. transition)
Radical Kaizen
How to improve leadership culture by introducing Kanban *
Explore “whole product solution”
From crossing the chasm
Behavioral change* #fail, #wtf, #epic
LKU’s strategic direction – what si it?
– growth hypothesis
– customer (who is) hypothesis
– revenue generation and retention hypothesis
Shared services teams working on projects, releases and ongoing work * Lightning Experience Reports
– 5 min * 6
– Lessons learned
  Do we need a vision to get started with Improvement Kata?

Recipes (Katas) for improvement + discussions**


* The sessions I attended. ** the sessions I hosted

For me day 3 was very much focused around the two sessions I hosted.

First the session if the ordering of the Kanban practices are in the right order when David talk about a shallow vs. a deep Kanban implementation. We discussed the ordering and ended up with a spider chart to indicate shallow vs. deep. Interesting and fun.

The second session I hosted was on Recipes and/or Katas for Kanban. This was a follow up on my Kanban Kata session. My goal was to find some recipes and/or Katas and the start defining the actual steps but that was not to be. We started of discussing if a process vision al ’a the Toyota Kata vision. We did not arrive at a consensus and there was some disagreement what a Toyota Kata vision or a true north really meant. We collected some potential recipes and Katas but we did not have time dive deeper as we shifted to actually apply the Improvement Kata to the challenge of the session. Gary Perkerwicz was just brilliant running through the Improvement Kata and the Coaching Kata. We did not get the result I was hoping for but people seem happy with the result.

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The conference hall and the view from one of the conference rooms

After the last session we did a retrospective of the conference. People where very happy with the conference in general and the session contentment in particular.

One of the most notable suggestion of improvement was of the planning and sessions selection. A few people, me included, suggested to move to a Open Space format with some suggested theme. People also asked for a schedule that would allow for more unplanned breakout sessions. There was some complaints of poor internet connectivity at the hotels. But all in all people was very happy with the conference. I do truly agree.

This was probably the best conference I have been to so far. It was also very inspiring that so many people found my sessions interesting, even to the degree that Kanban training classes will be changed!


In the coming days I will post more detailed notes and reflections from the different sessions I attended so stay tuned.

Related posts:

How can we help Kanban go mainstream – “Crossing the Chasm” overview/planning

Kanban Kata

Lean Enterprise Software and Systems 2011 – My summary

This is my one sentence summary of the Conference Lean Enterprise Software and Systems 2011 (LESS2011).

Start with why, let the adaptive system self organize and have the teams find the answers by them self.

LESS 2011 was the second International Conference on Lean Enterprise Software and Systems (LESS). LESS is a non-profit collaboration between the Lean Software and Systems Consortium and Mälardalen University. This year LESS 2011 was held at Clarion Sign Hotel in Stockholm between 30th October to 2nd November

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This year there was four main tracks: Transforming Organizations, Lean and Agile Product Development, Complexity and Systems Thinking and Beyond Budgeting.

My goal was to focus on Complexity and Systems Thinking and Beyond Budgeting.

I was also very much looking forward to hear Steve Denning speak about Radical Management as I, after so many hurdles, was able to bring him to the conference and give everyone a copy of his latest book The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management

Pre Conference Day

This part of the conference had been very poorly announced so we where only four people who turned up but we had some interesting discussions about transforming organizations to a Lean mindset. Thank you Alan Shalloway, Karl Scotland and Frode Odegard

The rest of the day was spent on folding name tags and packing conference bags with Jean Tabaka and Karl Scotland

Day 1

I started the day by facilitating the LESS 2011 Stockholm Lean Coffee event.


A short introduction by the conference organizers.

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Keynote: Bjarte Bogsnes: Beyond Budgeting – a new management model for new business realities

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This keynote by Bjarte Bogsnes was a well presented keynote with lots of interesting stuff about what Beyond Budgeting is really about. Here is some of my notes.

Bjarte used an interesting metaphor where he compared a cross road with traffic light to a round about.

The traffic light system is often based on historical data and regulated by pre set intervals.

A round about on the other hand is self regulated system based on some simple rules and are regulated based on the current situation.

Beyond Budgeting is event driven model in contrast to traditional calendar based budgeting model. How would you react if your bank would only interact with you during month of the year? What if you had to make all your banking decisions during the month of October? This is more or less what the yearly budget cycle is for a company.

Some examples on how Stateoil principles

  • Performance is about performing better than the ones you compare yourself with
  • Do the right thing – use sound business judgment for all decisions.
  • Resources are made available or allocated on a case by case basis
  • Forward looking and action oriented
  • Performance evaluation is a holistic assessment of behaviors and results
  • Alignment from strategy to people with flexibility and freedom

You don’t lose weight by weighing your self

Ola Ellnestam: Real Options Applied


Olle Ellnestam held an interesting session about Real Options.

Real Options is about "deferring decisions to the last responsible moment". By deferring decisions and avoiding early commitments, you can gain flexibility in the choices you have later.

Olle exemplified this with a business trip where he hedged his traveling options due to the ash cloud. He had a plan ticket, a train ticket and his car available to make the trip. The different options expired at different times and had different costs. He could make the traveling decision just-in-time based on all available information instead of committing early.

When we look back, things appear to have a clear path – this can’t be applied to the future  

I liked the presentation even if he was a little short on time at the end.

Carl Savage: Overcoming Education Inertia


Carl Savage had a great presentation. He talked about how you need to focus on the real customer and the needs of the customer. In his case it was the medical students. Is the medical training done in such a way that the students really learn what they need to know.

Great session. 

Ari-Pekka Skarp: Coaching in Complex Environments


Sorry Ari-Pekka, I did not understand what you wanted to tell us with this session.

Update: After reading Ari-Pekka’s blog post about this talk I got the message he wanted to communicate. This is truly an interesting topic. You can read the blog post here

Jurgen Appelo: Complexity Thinking or Systems Thinking ++ ?


Jurgen is an entertaining speaker with great visuals but I feel he need to be more clear and to the point what he want to communicate with his presentation.  This time it was a non stop barrage of quotes from different Complexity and Systems thinkers but where was Jurgens own thinking or opinions.

If he would not be so fuzzy, as on the picture above, this could have been a much better session.

Marcus Hammarberg: Theory of Constraints and Specification by example


My fellow Lean/Agile Coach at Avega Group Marcus Hammarberg held a great presentation on Specification By Example and how this could be a way of exploit the knowledge bottleneck in software development.

Keynote: James Sutton: The Living, Breathing Organization: Lean, Science and Complexity

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This was a great keynote by James Sutton. He talked about Systems Thinking, the scientific method, Lean Thinking and Complexity Theory. He used life as a metaphor how all this was connected.

Here are some tweets about the keynote.

The Command & Control version of Lean is called Krap Kaizen

Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/jurgenappelo/statuses/131034245115297792

If Lean is something being done to you… instead of something you are doing to the system… you may have Krap Kaizen on your hands #less2011

Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/cyetain/statuses/131044566882205696

At the end of the presentation James said that some of the tools of Lean manufacturing was suitable in product/software development space. In the Q&A section he was asked what tools and he specifically mentioned Standard work. I think this was especially interesting as my lightning talk on the subject was shortly after his keynote.

What he referred to as Standard work was the detailed work instructions used in manufacturing and the common misconception that these are for controlling what to do when they are really the foundation to continues improvement. If you don’t know how work is done now how can you know that a process change is an improvement or not?

Håkan Forss: Standard work in software development

This was my lightning talk session. You can find the slides in my previous post 

Pim Witlox: Managing Agile Development

Showed us in less than six minuets what his research work on Managing Agile Development was about.

Day 2

I started the second day by facilitating the LESS 2011 Stockholm Lean Coffee event.

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Keynote: Peter Middleton: Lean Software Management: BBC Worldwide Case Study



I really liked this keynote. Peter was very to the point and presented parts of the BBC World Case study. Nothing really new to me in forms of methods, tools or techniques but a good case study.

Peter Bunce: The Leader’s Dilemma



This session was not adding anything new that Bjarte Bogsnes had not talked about in the keynote. To bad as I thought the title and the abstract really felt interesting and I had high expectations.

Henrik Mårtensson: A hoop through the OODA loop – Basic principles of business strategy and organization

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Best session in the conference for me. Henrik’s witty presentation style and well thought out slides was great. Most of the agile methods and tools heavily rest of fast feedback. The OODA loop is just about that – fast feedback loops so you can make decisions based on your current conditions fast.

Henrik talked about how the US Marin Corps decision making structure and “self-organizing” teams is so effective.

He also talked about how Hoshin Kanri organizational structure. Very interesting stuff. 

Claudio Perrone: A3 & Kaizen: Here’s how


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Claudio had the best slides of the conference! Great content and a great presentation. Claudio talked about how to really do Kaizen and using A3 as an important part of the process improvements.

Paul Gooderham: What Really Motivates Employees?

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This presentation was to academic for me, I think. The topic is really interesting but I didn’t feel like the question in the talk was answered.

Keynote Steve Denning: Making The Entire Organization Agile

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Before the summer I contacted Steve Denning about speaking at LESS 2011 about Radical Management. Now after so many hurdles on the way I was delighted to hear him speak about the thinks he have written in his book The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management

The presentation was great and had a high pace with lots of content. The main point of his talk was that is now time to change to a new management paradigm if companies want to survive. The old marketplace has changed and now the customer is the boss!

The next generation companies will have to focus on:

  • New Goal: Delight the customer – this is the over arching concept
  • New manager role: From controller to enabler
  • Coordination of work: From bureaucracy to dynamic linking
  • New values: Radical transparency
  • Communication: From command to conversations

LESS is More

Thank you Steve for coming and I hope everyone enjoy his book The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management curtsey of Avega Group.

Day 3

Day 3 was Tutorials & Workshops day. I was asked by the conference organizers to arrange a game day where we would play two games: the MIT Beer Game and the getKanban Board Game.

You can read more about the LESS 2011 Game Day in my previous post


I really had a great time at this conference. The content was mostly good but what I really appreciated was the open and engaged community. I had such a great time talking to so many great people. Thank you all for coming and hope to see you soon again!


LESS is More!