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Evolve or Die: A3 Thinking and Popcorn Flow in Action (#LKCE14)

Slides I presented this week for the Lean Kanban Central Europe 2014 #lkce14 conference in Hamburg (and subsequently at Build Stuff in Vilnius) about Lean Management with A3 Thinking and Popcorn Flow. It consolidates some of my latest thoughts on the matter.
You may also be interested in the article that InfoQ published shortly after:

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Evolve or Die: A3 Thinking and Popcorn Flow in Action (#LKCE14)

  1. written, illustrated and performed by Claudio Perrone Evolve or die Popcorn Flow Thinking and A3 in Action @agilesensei
  2. Today I’m going to change the world … (a little).
  3. “A few years ago, I made a world of difference to one client”
  4. “Except… I didn’t.” 28 months later...
  5. Hello?
  6. “I saw good people swallowed by an enemy they could not defeat”
  7. “innovation and growth being crushed by status-quo, fire-fighting and conformity.”
  8. “the company went through many reorganizations, only to stay the same” Organization chart Blame flow Victims Rule makers Controllers Enforcers God Losers
  9. organizations can’t be “agile” if only the development teams are doing Agile Typical “Agile” Enterprise SMs
  10. “all was left was a desolate, lifeless place, with seemingly little to offer humans.”
  11. But What if an “alien” technology could change it?
  12. LEAN MANAGEMENT 1 @agilesensei
  13. “ All we are doing is looking at the timeline from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point we can collect the cash. And we are reducing that timeline by removing the non-value-added wastes. -­‐-­‐-­‐ Taiichi Ohno, Founder of TPS
  14. “but that’s only part of the story…”
  15. Why do you allow your competitors to copy all your tools?
  16. What they need to see… is not visible What the hell is He talking about?
  17. W. Edwards deming believed that… “ 95% of variation in worker’s performance is governed by the systems. ---W. Edwards Deming
  18. Perhaps… “ We should work on our processes, not the outcome of our processes. ---W. Edwards Deming
  19. in lean, we co-design and continuously improve processes and tools… …TO BETTER SERVE INDIVIDUALS AND INTERACTIONS.
  20. “learning to see” involves bringing to the surface what we learn Value Stream (from concept to cash) Learning Stream(s) (from question to knowledge base)
  21. With method and guidance, managers grow to become problem solvers, critical thinkers and mentors
  22. (YOU MAY ALSO CONSIDER THAT…) “ Management is too important to leave to the managers. Management is everyone’s job. -­‐-­‐-­‐ Jurgen Appelo
  23. @agilesensei A3 THINKING 2
  24. I had terrible experiences with problem solving meetings
  25. in Lean, a "problem" is the gap between the "current situation" and the "standard/ expectation" Gap = Problem Standard Current Situation
  26. Following that definition, there are 3 classes of problems: Kaizen Standard (or Shared Expectation) Preventive Maintenance
  27. A3 Thinkers are like investigators at a crime scene…
  28. They capture a shared understanding of a problem - often with just pencil and paper. Why are we talking about it? Where do things stand today? What should be happening? What would be a step in the right direction? What causes prevent us from reaching our target condition?
  29. To find causes, they use simple analysis tools Such as fishbone diagrams…
  30. Problem: got a Speeding ticket Late for work Got up late Alarm clock didn’t work Batteries were flat Why? Why? Why? Why? Therefore Therefore Therefore Therefore … And 5-whys
  31. Once the nature of the problem is clear, they take steps to move towards the target condition systematically. What countermeasures should neutralize the causes? What steps are required to implement the selected countermeasures? How will you know if the countermeasures work? Based on the results, what’s next?
  32. filling a report as quickly as possible would bring you fast nowhere.
  33. A3 is about the thinking, not the report. “ -- Claudio Perrone It’s not what you do but rather what you learn by doing it that matters.
  34. I learned to develop each section thoroughly…
  35. … and validate my current understanding with others before moving to the next SECTION
  36. Traditionally, a mentor would challenge a problem solver’s line of thought with quick coaching cycles What do you mean by it? (Clarity) Is it always the case? (Assumptions) How do you know? (Evidence) What are you implying by that? (Implications) Would that necessarily happen? (consequences) Do anyone see it another way? (Alternative Point of views)
  37. A3 thinking is not about problem solving… … it’s about creating problem solvers.
  38. I saw situations like this… Why did the site go down? Ehm… someone made a mistake. WHO? I want his f$g# Head!!
  39. … Turning into this Hi all, Here’s a quick summary of the root cause analysis we did this morning. Problem: The Website was offline from 15:31 to 15:40 because: -Website couldn't establish a connection to the database. - Because MySql service crashed. - Because MySql storage engine reached the default configuration memory limit. - Because Apache web server configuration allows threads to request more physical memory than available to MySql. - Because Apache and MySql default configuration settings are not optimised for the RAM currently available on the new virtual server. We failed to detect it because: - New relic didn't notify us that the site was not responsive - We don't know yet, needs further investigation. It might not be configured properly (cont..)
  40. … We took adaptive actions and the site is now up an running. However these are the further actions to take: Preventive: (future/cause) [now] Expand RAM on new virtual server [now] Review Apache & MySql configuration [later] Investigate moving to nginx Contingent (future/effect): [now] Configure New Relic's monitoring properly (alerts on site down, response time, n of processes, memory) [later] Investigate using New Relic for app profiling
  41. Without guidance It’s all too easy to develop shallow A3 reports. … and Good mentors are rarer than plutonium.
  42. So, with the motto: “Toyota supplier in 2 years or less”…
  43. … I released a family of thinking tools…
  44. to help you change the world. one problem at a time.
  45. Arguably, an A3 report “surfaces” a learning stream around a problem
  46. What other Learning streams can we seek to surface?
  47. POPCORN FLOW 3 @agilesensei
  48. A while ago, I worked with a team who had not deployed in months
  49. We worked together and evolved using the kanban method
  50. But the real “secret” was our ability to SYSTEMATICALLY DEFINE AND negotiate explicit change experiments…
  51. … a powerful learning stream that I defined and captured on a parallel “Popcorn board” Problems & observations Options Possible experiments Committed Ongoing Review Next
  52. It starts with Problems & Observations...
  53. ...which I use to elicit options.
  54. Promising options lead to a backlog of possible experiments.
  55. experiments that we Commit to pursue have an action, reason, expectation and Review date.
  56. At Each retrospective, I ask exactly these questions:
  57. Some people fear “failure”… Gap = Frustration Expectation Reality
  58. …but we only really “fail” when we limit our opportunities to learn Gap = Frustration Expectation Reality Learning
  59. It’s Not “fail fast, fail often”... … It’s “Learn fast, learn often”.
  60. Right from the beginning, I knew this was different.
  61. ... Because the team COULD easily handle 5-10 change experiments each week, rapidly enabling it to DELIVER multiple times a day
  62. …and then it spread. Popcorn boards started to appear to other parts of the organization.
  63. Imagine a continous flow of experiments to dramatically accelerate the rate of change in every corner of your organization... ... How far would you go?
  64. Final Thoughts
  65. “ -- Winston Churchill To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often.
  66. Claudio Perrone Next is Now @agilesensei