When we want to optimize project/program outcomes to deliver more value, improve quality, shorten lead time and reduce costs, then incorporating as much Lean-Agile as we can will help us to achieve those improvement goals.

Much of this book has described either Waterfall or Lean-Agile as if the two poles on opposite ends of a continuum are the only two choices: Either full Lean-Agile or full waterfall as shown in the following figure.

Poles Waterfall and Agile
Figure 1. Waterfall Versus Lean-Agile
Note
Lean-Agile does not require the entire enterprise to use an Lean-Agile approach to provide value.

Obstacles to Full Lean-Agile Adoption

Yet your specific circumstances may not yet fully support a 100% Lean-Agile approach.

Because the training industry is still new to Lean-Agile, you may experience obstacles that prevent full adoption of Lean-Agile in one large bite or batch. These obstacles may include:

Obstacles to Lean-Agile
  • New ideas are avoided or killed off rather than explored and judged for value potential

  • Blame culture where any mistake is punished, no underwriting of failure that progresses towards improvement

  • Policy sclerosis - Existing governance policies which allow little to no options for changes

  • Low trust exists between buyer and contractors/suppliers

  • Interactions between buyer and contractors/suppliers are unsupportive of win-win outcomes

  • Legal agreements are designed to support waterfall methodology

  • Lack of legal support to craft Lean-Agile contract provisions

  • Plans are almost all deterministic, very few probabilistic, indicating low current level of planning for uncertainty

  • Plans that are treated as infallible and conformance to the plan is the only acceptable way

  • Being unwilling to deal with things as they are, but only as you want them to be [1]

  • Persistent reversion to established mental frames (ways of doing and ways of seeing within the organization) [2]

  • Systematic withholding or non-circulation of information (organizational secrecy) [2]

  • Business process inertia

  • Leadership skills of those involved (tendency of leadership through dominance)

  • Stakeholders with knowledge of particular Agile methods for software (a) who expect exact copying from software methods, and (b) who object to principle-based tailoring of methods for a courseware project

  • Organizational culture resembles fiefdoms of the middle ages with turf-protection behaviors trumping collaboration

  • Low tolerance for a high degree of transparency

  • Messengers get shot when delivering bad news

  • Contracts used as flogs in antagonistic beatings between buyer and producer

  • Estimates made during planning quickly harden into the absolute reality that must occur

  • The idea that team members are replaceable parts

  • Complexity of projects is low (simple projects can still work with waterfall/traditional approaches)

Factors that Support Complete Lean-Agile Adoption

On the other hand, the following may help you move to a more full implementation of Lean-Agile:

Facilitators to Lean-Agile
  • Customer-focus and customer expectation of faster speed

  • Innovation friendly culture

  • Complex projects

  • Continuous improvement that is practiced, not just preached

  • The idea that failure precedes improvement

  • Being willing to deal with things as they are, not as you want them to be [1]

  • Lean-Agile contracts

Hybrid Lean-Agile

You may have to apply the principles to your specific situation and tailor a hybrid approach as an initial iteration towards a larger Lean-Agile change over a longer time period.

Poles Waterfall and Agile Hybrid
Figure 2. Hybrid Approaches Between Waterfall and Lean-Agile

If you discover obstacles, you can try to overcome any obstacles first and then go full tilt Lean-Agile. A more practical approach may be to work with the contractor/supplier to design a hybrid approach that fits your circumstances better for now and use continual improvement to adjust over time.


1. Reproduced with permission from Aaron Erickson, author of Everybody’s Doing Agile—​Why Can’t We?, 2011, http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1743015
2. Reproduced with permission from Linda Rouleau, REVISITING PERMANENTLY-FAILING ORGANIZATIONS: A PRACTICE PERSPECTIVE, by Linda Rouleau, Stéphanie Gagnon et Charlotte Cloutier, 2008 http://expertise.hec.ca/geps/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/GePS-08-01.pdf
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