So you want to apply Lean-Agile in your circumstances. How do you get started? Use this list to get your thinking cap warmed up. Have fun.

  1. What is the problem you are trying to improve by applying Lean-Agile? How urgent is the problem? Articulate why you are introducing this new way so people can understand why they should change.

  2. Where are you now? Measure existing productivity before introducing Lean-Agile so you can compare and see progress.

  3. Lead yourself first. If you want to lead others down the Lean-Agile path, you need to know it well enough to help them come with you. Learn the Agile principles. Apply them on a personal project to learn and make mistakes in private. What can you do within your own stewardship first in order to learn? Seek under-the-radar experiments that are low harm but good chances to try Lean-Agile on a small scale. Identify gaps in your knowledge and skills, grow and try another small-scale experiment.

  4. Enable consistent performance. Make and use checklists as performance aids. Pilots and medical doctors do this even with all of their training.

  5. Articulate why you think Lean-Agile can help your situation. Identify your reasons for change.

If you have an existing organizational crisis wave you can surf, do so to help nudge people to see that the change is important and urgent. If not, consider how you or the leadership sponsor can create a crisis or a sense of urgency for the change to Lean-Agile. Increase urgency to nudge people. Inspire people to move and make objectives real and relevant.
  1. Figure out who cares, who are your stakeholders, in your situation and decide how to manage their expectations.

  2. Know who the organizational antibodies are that, like white blood cells, will try to snuff out Lean-Agile as if it is an invading virus to the organizational body. Get the sponsor to give you a waiver to current processes for the duration of the experiment with Lean-Agile, similar to Kublai Khan’s golden tablet, like a letter of safe passage, worked for Marco Polo as he traveled across Asia.

Organizations are complex adaptive systems (CAS), so apply learning about CAS to help your effort succeed.
  1. Decide whether or not you need an organizational sponsor(s) from the organization’s senior leadership. Plan the involvement and project activities of the change sponsor(s).

  2. Facilitate. Determine what you will need to do to get buy-in for the changes from those involved and affected, directly or indirectly.

  3. Lead. Burn the ships like early explorers landing in the Americas to remove the option to retreat to the status quo. People often don’t want to change, and they often won’t, unless they have good reason to. You and the leadership sponsor must commit to the change. Talk consistently with the change. Let people know it is required. Behave consistently with the change.

  4. Deal with resistant and complaining Eeyore characters (see Winnie-the-Pooh for examples). Some people will resist any change and will stand on the sidelines and point out loudly to all who will listen any flaw in your change effort. A persistent resistance Eeyore can threaten a change project. Have a plan to deal with that before it happens.

  5. Determine who needs to be involved in the means and ends.

  6. Plan your communications. How will you tell everyone who’s affected about the changes? How will you share evidence to help them empirically support you?

  7. Decide how big of a bite or scope, you will attempt on the first iteration and the second iteration.

Consider starting small and succeeding with a quick win before expanding. Success begets success. It helps with leadership and with getting more people to buy in. Consider your own WIP limits to make this successful.
  1. Get a formal mandate for the project if that fits your organization process; otherwise, ignore this.

  2. Adjust Lean-Agile to your context. Take the principles and apply them for your unique situation and see improvements in your learning experience development results.

  3. State your why and project objectives, estimate costs involved and list any requirements, constraints and assumptions.

  4. Overlay Kanban over whatever process you do now. It is a light-weight Agile method that does not require much change.

  5. See the task list in Appendix A for skills that need to be learned and applied .

  6. List what you will deliver and develop your work breakdown structure (WBS) to get it done - whether your WBS is hardware-, product-, service- or process-oriented.

  7. Identify resources, whose help is needed, supplies, software license costs and constraints.

  8. Ensure participant readiness. Decide how you will get people ready to adapt to Lean-Agile changes. Ensure they have the right information, training and help. Don’t breed snipers. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of pain.

  9. Who are your go-to, core team of change makers with the right attitudes and skills? Meet with them one-on-one to invite their contribution and gain commitment. Get them on board first. Let them know you will remove obstacles, listen to constructive feedback, support their efforts and that you will reward and recognize their progress and achievements.

  10. Set the conditions for success.

  11. Train your core team well, so they’re not stranded while you’re busy.

  12. Set WIP limits for your core team so they don’t get slowed down, potentially threatening the entire change initiative.

  13. Assign a Lean-Agile coach or two and ensure they are competent in both coaching and in the technical considerations of Lean-Agile implementations.

  14. Assign responsibility, identify who is responsible for each part of the plan and commit them.

  15. Plan iterations to sequence time-phase any deliverables.

  16. Schedule resources.

  17. Identify a team you can lead into Lean-Agile. Stack the initial team if possible.

  18. Conduct high-level planning.

  19. Identify risks and opportunities by probability and magnitude of impact. Decide what to protect against by the impact. Identify causes and ways to mitigate problem causes or encourage opportunity causes. Decide what triggers contingent actions.

  20. Begin implementation, use a Kanban for the change implementation team to practice what you preach or "eat your own dog food" as software people sometimes say.

  21. Iterate.

  22. Repeat the main messages often, like advertising. Telling people once and stopping is less effective during change efforts.

  23. Monitor the project visually against objectives, budget and schedule (if required). Try to avoid a Gantt chart if possible.

  24. Experiment. Apply PDCA frequently. Consider daily over weekly.

  25. Evaluate. Assess and address how the changes will affect people. How close did you get to your planned objectives?

  26. Celebrate and recognize any success.

  27. Recommend organizational design proposals or job-redesign proposals as appropriate to restructure the organization to better use Lean-Agile.

  28. Share any successes within your organization appropriately.

  29. Decide whether you should or can merge the Lean-Agile approach with Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) if your organization has to use CMMI.

  30. Work towards convincing a larger organization to apply as much of Lean-Agile as you can persuade them to use.

  31. Then share what worked and didn’t work for you at industry conferences or write your book so we can read it.

Thank you for reading our book about applying Lean-Agile to your work. Good luck.


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