Lean Coffee Meetup in Perth 21st May 2015


For a first time run it went pretty well. The meetup link at http://www.meetup.com/Agile-Perth/events/222524234/ has photos of the topics we discussed in the photo album.

Great discussion from all attendees and all would agree that they went away learning something new from the event and also meeting some new folks in the Agile and Lean space.

Hopefully there will be interest to hold this type of meetup again in the future.

Thanks Agile Perth and Lean Perth Meetup Groups for helping to promote the meetup and AgWorld for sponsoring the event.

Good to see cross pollination of Lean and Agile folks in the same meetup space.

Originally posted on Nikola Zdunić:

For those of you in Perth, there will be a Lean Coffee Meetup next Thursday the 21st of May 2015 starting at 5:45pm.

AgWorld are sponsoring by providing the space and some drinks and snacks. They are centrally located in Leederville and there will be parking on the street available for those driving or it is easily accessible from Leederville train station.

A Lean Coffee is a formal, yet informal, discussion where you come with your ideas and requests and start a conversation.

The meetup link gives a bit more information. You’ll find out more on the night and it promises to be an engaging evening.

Please signup via the meetup link. http://www.meetup.com/Lean-Perth/events/222450260/

There will be a limit of 15 attendees.

Hope to see some of you there.

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Organizational Debt is like Technical debt – but worse


To quote Stephen Parry @leanvoices – ‘The soft stuff is the hard stuff and if you don’t do the soft stuff you wont get the hard stuff’ .

The quote is quite apt because technical refactoring is the hard stuff and organisational refactoring is the really, really, really hard stuff to execute.

Originally posted on Steve Blank:

Startups focus on speed since they are burning cash every day as they search for product/market fit. But over time code/hardware written/built to validate hypotheses and find early customers can become unwieldy, difficult to maintain and incapable of scaling. These shortcuts add up and become what is called technical debt. And the size of the problem increases with the success of the company.organizational debt

You fix technical debt by refactoring, going into the existing code and “cleaning it up” by restructuring it. This work adds no features visible to a user but makes the code stable and understandable.

While technical debt is an understood problem, it turns out startups also accrue another kind of debt – one that can kill the company even quicker – organizational debt. Organizational debt is all the people/culture compromises made to “just get it done” in the early stages of a startup.

Just when things should be…

View original 1,427 more words

Complete my collection of Croatia Soccer Jerseys


Pictured is my collection of Croatian Soccer Jerseys taking up most of the closet – LOL.  They don’t get worn and some still have their tags.

But I’m missing some.  Can you help me find them.  Responses please in the comments.  One’s in good condition please.

Here’s a list of Jerseys throughout the years that I know of.  The years I have are in bold.


1994 – first accepted into FIFA – but did they have a jersey?

1996 – Used in Euro 1996

1998 – 2000 – although missing the blue away jersey

2002 – 2004






Here’s a snap shot taken from Wikipedia.  I think the 1990 one doesn’t look right.  It was a smaller check pattern was it not? 1940 would be a rare find I imagine!

Croatian Kit History

Lean Coffee Meetup in Perth 21st May 2015

For those of you in Perth, there will be a Lean Coffee Meetup next Thursday the 21st of May 2015 starting at 5:45pm.

AgWorld are sponsoring by providing the space and some drinks and snacks. They are centrally located in Leederville and there will be parking on the street available for those driving or it is easily accessible from Leederville train station.

A Lean Coffee is a formal, yet informal, discussion where you come with your ideas and requests and start a conversation.

The meetup link gives a bit more information. You’ll find out more on the night and it promises to be an engaging evening.

Please signup via the meetup link. http://www.meetup.com/Lean-Perth/events/222450260/

There will be a limit of 15 attendees.

Hope to see some of you there.

Mary and Tom Poppendieck on the Seven Principles of Lean Software Development

“Requires a change in culture that some companies can’t achieve, those that have achieved massive performance improvements”

A summary of the principles from the Poppendieck’s momentus book Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit

The 7 Principles

Eliminate Waste – coding more features than required, handoffs, low or no value documents (shelfware), defering of decisions

Build Quality In – this also encompasses integrity which is wise leadership, communication, healthy discipline, relevant expertise.  This can’t be replaced by processes, procedures and measurements.  Technical practices like  Test Driven Development (TDD), Continuous Integration, Definition of Done assist.  UX design helps the customer attain a feeling of perceived integrity.  Supple architecture allows the system to gracefully grow.

Create Knowledge – also known as Amplify Learning.  This is where Lean for Software differs from Lean Manufacturing.  Development is a constant learning exercise in discovery.  There is an expectation that mistakes will be made but we learn from them and make the adjustments.  Learnings should be shared e.g. in a showcase, in a retrospective.  Feedback loops are present throughout.

Defer Commitment – also known as Last Responsible Moment in Lean Manufacturing.   Delaying decisions can be valuable because more information is available.  In Agile this means detailed story development is deferred, design and implementation should occur when it’s needed at not before hand.

Deliver Fast – To enable feedback to occur.  Also smaller batches reduces errors inherent in large batch work because of the missing feedback loop.  Compression the value stream helps here – i.e. eliminate or reduce wait time.

Respect People –  people on the coalface backed with good leadership are best placed to combine knowledge of the technical with the requirements of the customers.  It will lead to excellence and morale will go up markedly.  There is a wisdom in Crowds/Group Expertise

Optimize the Whole – the common good can suffer when people attend only to their specialization. Therefore this should not be measured at this level as it promotes sub optimization.  It will hurt the system overall.

On Lean Principles according to Womack and Jones

One of the best introductions to Lean Thinking is a the book ‘Lean Thinking‘ by Womack and Jones.

What follows is a summary of the book I used for my own purposes and hopefully is useful for you as well.  I’ve added some counter points from other authors as well.

According to Womack and Jones there are five steps:

  1. Identify the value for each product
  2. Identify the Value Stream
  3.  Create flow without interruptions
  4. Let the customer or consumer pull value from the produce
  5. Pursue Perfection

On Muda – is waste – anything that does not create value and includes waiting in queues, mistake rectification, over production and movement.

On Lean – this should be not been seen as a job destroyer.  It should create work – more valued work.

Value can only be defined by the customer.  It’s not created by engineers with complex ideas.  It needs a dialogue with the customer to supply the needs – this could be abstract – did the smart phone customer say they needed the iPhone?

Visualising the value stream will expose the MUDA.  You should be able to extend this to suppliers to flow the entire value stream from without your own organisation

When waste is removed – make the system flow!  That means work with smaller batches.  This will generate faster feedback.  (Simulations are available like paper plane making to illustrate this).  Jim Benson however suggests start with flow and eliminate the waste from there.

Furthermore to get flow, ignore traditional boundaries of jobs, careers and functions.  These are impediments to flow.  Keep the product in sight at all times (early delivery).  All workflows and tools are up for scrutiny.

Once flow is established time to complete work can come down from months to days, days to hours.  David Anderson did this with a team working for Microsoft.  The team was based in India.  There were many problems in reliability in estimates and quality of the work and delivery of that work.  He (and colleague Dragos Dumitriu) used Kanban to achieve this.

This leads to the ability to Pull.  You can do the work and make the product when the customer asks for it.  For example DELL Computer makes PCs to order.  Inventory is waste and for DELL large inventory is massive waste due to obsolescence.  Toyota is capable of making cars to order because of the value stream includes the supplier.  Toyota can build a car on order in one week.  If there is no PULL then there is still waste or MUDA.

Now with everything visible, flowing and pulling, transparency is a natural by product and therefore it’s much easier to discover other ways to create value.  When employees are involved in the entire loop, then employee satisfaction goes up – less need to financial reward systems (a dysfunction maybe)

A transition should not be costly.  Going from large batches to smaller batches for example.  If it’s expensive then you’ve yet to understand lean thinking.

And on society – Womack and Jones also say “Stagnation has also led to a frenzy of cost costing in the business world, which removes the incentive for employees to make any positive contribution to their firms and swells the unemployment ranks.”  Lean Thinking is the way to turn this mindset around.

And be aware or beware – Lean Thinking means layers of management get permanently stripped away.  However this does not preclude the idea of succession plans, rewards for experience and higher pay.  You lose the title not the experience.  You will find yourself becoming a coach.

A transformation can take years.  There are several examples in the book with Toyota and Pratt & Whitney being the most famous.

Some Causes of Dysfunctional Workplaces

Here are some real observations over 25 years of working in software development and in volunteer organisations as well.  I can give specific anecdotes for each and every one of these listed anti patterns.  I can be contacted privately to share only via a voice conversation.  I also wouldn’t want to be recorded for fear of retribution or legal action (in fact it should be the reverse, should be illegal to allow these behaviours).
Many people relate to these issues because they tell me them also and the research confirms that with 9 out of 10 people unhappy at work .  They are afraid to voice an opinion and rightly so.  They want better but are fearful because they have families to support and can’t risk losing a job or going backward.  Those unnamed people should be acknowledged and this is their anonymous voice through me.
The issues being raised mean that people suffer and when people suffer then the company as a whole will suffer.   Ill performing teams means work is not done to the best of everyone’s ability.  Absenteeism goes up and is a further cost impediment to the company.  People take their work problems home and take it out on their family making for a inharmonious home life.  They bring this feeling back to work and the cycle continues.
 Note some of these are similar but are stated again to imply a subtlety that ought to be acknowledged.  I regretfully acknowledge that I’ve been a perpetrator of some of these wrongs driven by what I’ve observed in the workplace – that is it appears to be condoned behaviour and some don’t even realise that it’s a problem and that it is normal.
Some or even all of these apply to employees as well, but we single out management as they need to lead and should be leading through actions otherwise why be in this position.
 I’m sorry to say that some people marketing themselves at Agile Coaches and Consultants exhibited these (anti-)patterns.  But I guess we all need to learn including myself.  That includes standing up for what is right and just.
 Now, you may not agree with the list, parts of it or the whole idea of it.  To that I point you to another blog post entitled You don’t have to agree, You have to take notice –  and is my response to this.
After this list I’ve provided some resources on how you can improve.  It’s not just a rant but a rant with proposed solutions.  It’s a small starting but it’s a starting point.
 Finally I will use this to help myself improve. Knowing is the first step. If you attend an interview with me expect some of these to mentioned as questions framed as either have you experienced this and what did you about it or have you been guilty of any of these and what did you do correct it.  They way you answer will determine if I use you.  It will filter out a lot of people but then again I only want the best.

The List (which could grow)

  1. Asking for estimates and then taking them as commitments
  2. Providing estimates for work they aren’t going to be doing
  3. Taking estimates and applying a factor either up or down.  That’s right I don’t trust you.
  4. Publicizing an arbitrary deadline without asking anyone else first.  Especially prevalent in companies listed on the stock market.
  5. Playing the blame game when a publicized deadline like the above is not met.
  6. Asking employees to cut corners in favour of an ill-conceived short term goal mostly in their own self interest
  7. Telling employees who know how to do their job how to do their job, especially when they aren’t the expert
  8. Asking someone to do something knowing that they may not have the right skills or fall just short and then chastise them when they do in fact come up short
  9. Related not creating a learning opportunity with it’s accompanying expected failure points that allows someone to increase their skills
  10. Providing an unsafe work environment: physical, psychological and emotional
  11. Using expletives/profanity during a meeting to cover over a weakness or to feign a form of bravado
  12. Not apologising for using expletives/profanity as if it were a right that no one else holds
  13. Permits and/or uses slurs (racial, sexual, social background) assuming that everyone is Ok with that
  14. Seeks others to ‘cheer them on’ when they have an axe to grind further encouraging base human behaviour in others
  15. Willingly treat outside contractors and suppliers with contempt.  Permits others to do the same.  Used as a tactic to think a contractor can come on board full time because they will then get better treatment in return
  16. Permits others to treat outside contractors and suppliers with disdainful behaviour and slights.  Almost the same as the previous except they didn’t really start it but still happy to condone it
  17. Instilling fear into employees such that their only way of expressing issues and problems is to whine about during a break when management isn’t present
  18. To meekly acknowledge an issue but not follow up.  Lip service to better management.
  19. Seeking to put themselves forward at the expense of their team, which encourages subordinates to think that this is just the way it is for it to be repeated elsewhere
  20. Condoning less than civil behaviour amongst employees.  For example allowing attacks either aggressive or passive, reasoning that this is just the way it is.  Refusal to acknowledge this as bad behaviour
  21. Reflects bad behaviour by using it as a lever to coerce others to fall into line
  22. Allowing a culture of intolerance to differences
  23. Resorts to firing of employees rather than discussion when a problem arises or a personality conflict occurs
  24. Refusal to defend employees against an unreasonable customer
  25. Making false promises to coerce compliance.
  26. Exuding a power persona, that they laud over others.
  27. Wantonly flaunting privileges of a position.  It’s visible to others and they know it.
  28. When subjected to false promises themselves do not follow up with the promise.  Talks behind their back about the false promise.
  29. When hearing of a false promise not offering to follow up on behalf of the aggrieved party – the complaint is actually a request
  30. Make (what turn out to be) erroneous or fake gestures/claims.  Not following up to explain hoping it ‘blows over’
  31. Not attending to the needs of employees to grow and feel that they are appreciated
  32. Making employees the villains when problems arise
  33. Happy/relieved to let good employees go as they were a threat anyway
  34. Overriding the thoughts and decisions of employees because ‘you know best’ and ‘you need to be seen to exert your authority’
  35. Bosses of bosses condoning and allowing bad behaviour because they are needed to be seen to support who’ve they’ve put in place
  36. Preferring to make snide comments sometimes the other party is not present rather than provide meaningful feedback.  It’s more funny and others may get a chuckle out of it
  37. Make comments/gossips behind people’s backs rather then confronting the real issue
  38. Body Language, the feeling that is exuded indicating this is how you should have done it
  39. Body Language, the feeling that is exuded indicating that you should have know this already
  40. Body Language, the feeling that is exuded indicating that your not ready to be considered part of the group
  41. Not providing a welcome for a new employee – ignoring them, not offering to take them out if from out of town
  42. Allowing a contractor to be treated as a second class citizen and condoning derogatory comments about the contractor and to the contractor
  43. Believes their emotional well being is more important than employees and therefore it’s Ok to go off, get mad but not allow the same of employees
  44. Does not see that a complaint is really a request.  Will portray the complainer as just another moaner and whinger
  45. Says they will do something but actually using it as a tool to better their own position because it will cause failure for others
  46. Does not provide information.  “need to know basis’ is an anti-pattern
  47. Thinks nepotism is a good thing.  ‘My brother, my wife, my girlfriend can do this job’  implies arrogance and self interest
  48. Believes dissent to be a bad thing.  Can’t have employees injecting another opinion
  49. Believes a quiet meeting is a good meeting.  They are doing what I tell them
  50. Will use sex as a tool.  e.g. Women will use alluring and sometimes even crude gestures (touching) to cover weakness.  Men will resort to innuendo in a passive aggressive stance.
  51. Intolerant to failure.  Will not accept failure and will record it as a negative against an employee.  Promotes a culture of ‘It’s better to not be wrong’
  52. Encouraging a complaining culture by complaining oneself and not seeking to address the complaints of others and themselves. Laizez Faire attitude
  53. Congratulating bad behaviour like saying ‘They handled that tricky situation well’  ‘He’s a real political animal, not many can handle themselves like that’ – hiding an impediment actually
  54. Don’t think they need to get any better.  Doesn’t read books, attend seminars or give seminars.  ‘I’m a manager because I now this stuff already’
  55. Disrespectful use of nicknames without a rapport established, e.g. Hey Davo, Paulo.
  56. Brazenly takes credit for what others have found or created. Take it as their own and doesn’t acknowledge others.
  57. Will not thank someone for their work when they leave because they don’t like them.
  58. Worse, do not organise a leaving ceremony like everyone else gets to send a message.  Rather it says your heartless
  59. Not standing up for a colleague when you and others know that a wrong has been committed against that person
  60. Failing to be learn lessons and apply learnings from those lessons.  Often reviews are performed but it’s a lip service.  No tangiable outcomes arise
  61. Failing to maintain an improvement backlog.  A tangible way to track improvement rather than lip service and hope for the best
  62. Not being accountable to team goals and seeks to blame others when things go wrong
  63. Happy to perpetuate a blame and recrimination culture because that is the way it is and it’s normal
  64. Adept at performing the Cover Your Ass Manoeuvrer and then openly celebrating it and accepting plaudits for it
  65. Failing to be of service to employees, that is not practising Servant Leadership.  That is we need to look after the needs of others so that we may all succeed as well
  66. Allows a situation to fester out of a misplaced loyalty.  Related to the HiPPO syndrome.  Meanwhile ideas and alternatives are ignored.
  67. Casts those who provide suggestions, ideas and alternatives as disloyal villains of the HiPPOs
  68. Allowing the HiPPOs to take on jobs or roles for which they are lacking skill when others have the skills required
  69. Allowing HiPPOs to bury other ideas and accepting flimsy reasoning for allowing it to occur
  70. Allow traditional requirements knowing they are wasteful to the client because it means more billing hours. This creates disharmony for the client and the workers. Should use an Agile Contract.
  71. Using the requirements to shoehorn another product that isn’t needed. Taking advantage of customer ignorance, but it comes back to bite when the budget is absorbed and it doesn’t work.
  72. Assuming others do not have the ability to manage and condemning them for it
  73. Failure is Ok as long as it vindicates my own position
  74. Maintains siloes of information.  Doesn’t allow information to be shared between groups.  Doesn’t share information with team members.  Prevents good information from reaching others that could help them achieve their goals.
  75. Thinking that every problem needs to be solved by them negating/nullifying the capability of the team.  Arrogance.
  76. More generally thinking that employees have to be told what to do and must always ask what to do next.  Same theme as the previous, arrogance and assuming the team will not function without them
  77. Thinking burnout is a failure of the employee rather than a symptom of a bad system of work
  78. Thinking that keeping everyone busy by overloading is more efficient.  The busy work paradox.  Not Limiting WIP
  79. Thinking that employees do need slack to learn new stuff, to recharge and to reconnect.
  80. Working longer than 8 hours a day thinking that your effective.  This is only short term, long term you’ll feel it
  81. Claiming that reading a document at home over dinner is chargeable to the client – greedy
  82. Resorting to snide comments as a way of dealing with a comment or suggestion that you don’t like
  83. Causing the health of employees to fail due to overwork or emotional exertion.  Some even result in death.
  84. Immediately criticizing the detail of a suggestion and therefore negating the validity of a suggestion as a whole. A Fear Response.
  85. Holds a meeting looking for ideas but then focuses on those that align with their own
  86. Admonishing in public rather than providing feedback in a private yet positive setting
  87. Maneuvering to covertly remove someone from a team via meetings and conversations and to then spring it on the poor unfortunate person.
  88. A derogatory comment designed to support a superior who feels challenged by someone else’s question.  Suits them better for their own goals and purposes.
  89. Sidelining or worse ostracizing introverts making their input appear less valuable
  90. Complaining about introverted behaviour, they should be more outgoing, rather than accepting people as they are and helping them grow and helping them to utilize their natural talent
  91. Related but more general, immediately discounting the thoughts of others because the opinion of the HiPPO counts more
  92. Upon seeing someone not tapping on a keyboard automatically thinking that they are slacking off.  I’m paying you to code not think.
  93. An employee doesn’t immediately understand a new concept or instruction and conveys this.  Subsequently this is held against them, they must be below par.
  94. Upon receiving new information or a new concept, silence is taken as acceptance.  Later on when something goes wrong as a result, it’s the always the employee’s fault.
  95. Not providing training and support for an employee who needs to improve in a weak area.  Better to move them on.
  96. Using and emotional release or outburst from someone against them, speaking ill-will of them
  97. Encouraging a Hero culture.  Heroes get stuff done.  Actually the reverse is true and teams get things done faster than Heroes.  Teams mean there is no weak link
  98. Similar yet different to be mentioned, playing favourites which results in others being favoured over others for the wrong reasons (mostly)
  99. Again similar, protecting some from consequences whilst others are not.  Overall, protection from consequences is not good.
  100. When listening we are actively looking to refute
  101. Doesn’t ensure a there is no weak link by neglecting to create an environment of cross pollination, cross training, knowledge sharing and mutual support amongst team members
  102. Confusing uncertainty with weakness.  Being certain implies arrogance and does let other opinions exist
  103. Thinking that talking to oneself (e.g. Rubber Ducking) is a weakness and saying something that will stop someone doing it like ‘Your going mad’.
  104. Admonishing others when they appear to show ‘weakness’
  105. Creating a stressed environment by stating at the start that you’ve only got one chance or your out
  106. Confusing silence with harmony.  Silence can mean artificial harmony and absence of useful conflict.
  107. Forcing consensus even when consensus is not really present therefore ignoring potential showstoppers
  108. Not committing to removal of obstacles like lack of information about requirements, not having the tooling to perform a job effectively, quickly and with quality
  109. Committing to performing work when you and everyone knows that something is not needed and is a wasted effort
  110. Committing to performing work when you and everyone else knows that there is not enough information to perform the work
  111. Disallowing others to seek information when information is lacking
  112. Is vengeful and seeks retribution when told something that doesn’t agree with them.
  113. Delivers information in a way that will invite a vengeful response in the future, generally untraceable to the previous incident(s)
  114. Barring employees from talking to customers because its seen that there should only be one funnel of information
  115. When hearing of a new improvement seeks to hide it or discount it because it would not suit their own purposes or damage their perceived standing amongst others.  Cites reasons to cover this up that ring hollow.
  116. Brings in outside consultants to tell them what the insiders have already told them and then chooses to ignore or rubbish the findings.
  117. Using email to relay news. Email is a copout for direct communication.
  118. Allow oneself to be exposed to Insider information (listed company) which results in strange decisions that favour personal gain at the expense of others.  Strangely congratulated if you can achieve this.
  119. Use of the excuse ‘Too busy’ – means there is a root cause being ignored
  120. Finding an excuse rather than a reason
  121. Related – using the excuses for not following up in a timely and respectful manner
  122. Creating excuses to create a barrier that prevents the real problem from being seen.  Other need to deal with the emotional obfuscation.
  123. Having the perpetual blind eye.  As long as it doesn’t effect me then why bother.
  124. Saying that we are running an Agile project but then carrying on like a traditional project manager and handing out tasks instead of allowing self organisation.
  125. Publicizing a project as being an Agile project and even writing articles about it when events like the previous dysfunction and many other wastes occur.
  126. Saying that they are Agile but not stating against which benchmark or not demonstrating principles from the Agile Manifesto.  Egocentric self assessment designed to validate oneself in front of others.
  127. Superficially labelling people causing them to be pigeon holed and not able to grow, they wont last long as employees and will move on by themselves.
  128. Using the above a tactic to passively remove someone who’s getting in your way
  129. Thinking the best way to change someone is to command them to change
  130. The second last one and almost the best, not apologizing for any of the above mentioned behaviours
  131. Finally, the best one, recognising any of the above and not doing anything to correct it.
 Here are some resources to help correct these.
  • Read Books – Marquet, Lencioni, Agile Literature on Coaching, Management 3.0, Emotional Intelligence
  • Coaching Courses – Esther Derby, Lyssa Adkins, Linda Rising
  • Training/Transformation Companies – Adapt By Design
  • Websites:
    • Lolly Daskal – good example on not being a sycophant from LinkedIn.com, she posts on inc.com as well
    • Christopher Avery writes on everyone taking responsibility
    • Juergen Appelo, inc.com, mile.com, HappyMelly.com
  • A fantastic video from Joshua Kerievsky on Anzeneering
  • Use twitter and follow these people
  • Use LinkedIn/Twitter to ask for help
  • Act your way to better behaviour.  Pick some items to improve on and recognise when those behaviours occur and try to take the right track rather than the old wrong track
  • Provide Life Coaching to help you and employees deal with life’s little struggles at work and at home


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