• Problem: The team does not apply Lean-Agile well.

    • Solution: Start them using a Kanban board initially and delay WIP limits until they have matured a bit with the basics.

  • Problem: Organizational fixation with schedules makes it hard to use Lean-Agile Lean

    • Solution: Only schedule down to the iteration level and delivering an iteration goal (scope commitment). Combine storyboarding, developing, testing and fixing defects/change requests as a single "work package" in the schedule. This provides the instructional/LX designer the room to shift some learning objective work item cards between iterations up until the iteration planning meeting.

  • Problem: Team members are pulling 15–20 work item cards into their in process column at once.

    • Solution: Coach the team members during the stand up to only pull the number of cards they can actually work on. Explain how we will use the queue from the last process step to measure total queue time, which Lean calls waste. Let them know that they don’t get credit for any work that is partially done—called a 0/100 earned value technique if you are a cost account manager. Also help them get that the cycle time for all cards is faster if you use one-piece flow and take one down and finish it before you pull another Kanban card from the queue.

  • Problem: Team members use the list functionality of a virtual Kanban board application or write little lists on the sticky note on a physical white board.

    • Solution: Coach team members about how that choice optimizes their work for their personal level, but that we need to optimize for the entire team. Explain that we need to be able to see the card move between columns to see progress of the work. Our experience with the lists on a card is that you cannot glance at this team’s Kanban board and quickly see where the work is in process without opening the individual cards and reading the lists. This breaks our vision of visual management.

  • Problem: Team develops work item cards that are too big in size.

    • Solution: Show the team that this approach does not let us visually see progress for that work item in a couple of days, breaking our visual management system. Let them know that ideally we want similarly sized work item Kanban cards moving through the "system" or workflow so we can see a continuous flow of progress.

  • Problem: The team does not hit their iteration goal.

    • Solution: Explain up front that the team will start the iteration review/demo by covering what was in the iteration goal and reporting to the customer stakeholders if the team met this goal or not. If not, they must explain the rationale and their recovery plan. Being clear that this is the expectation tends to help teams focus their energies and deliver as expected. Then on the exceptions where events caused a miss in the iteration goal, the team explains the situation and how they will improve/recover.

  • Problem: The team presents a functional prototype that is not accepted by the customer.

    • Solution: Remind the customer it is better (less rework and cost) to get this feedback early than wait until much later in the development process to find this out. You’ll still have to fix the gap between what you delivered and their expectations, but it will not cost nearly as much to fix now than if we hadn’t gotten that feedback until later.

  • Problem: Customer-provided SMEs are not sufficiently responsive for the team to meet the iteration goal.

    • Solution: Escalate the issue to the SME leadership in the customer organization. Educate the customer during "kickoff" meetings about expectations so that the SMEs know up front that requests for information need to be responded to that day, not a week or three later when fixed time box two-week iterations are marking the cadence for the development team.

  • Problem: Existing employees with long experience in other approaches do not want to use the Lean-Agile approach.

    • Solution: First try to persuade them to support the change. Explain the organizational benefits and that we are optimizing for the organizational level, not the individual contributor level. Explain your vision for using this approach. Sometimes increased vision can lead to increased motivation. If they continue to be an obstacle, make the expectation clear that this is what is required of the employee. If necessary, take actions to correct the employee using your organization’s human resources processes, up to and including termination if necessary.

  • Problem: You are asked by the organization to show other disciplines how Lean-Agile Lean works.

    • Solution: This is a good problem to have. Use your ability with training development to create a brief version and a more detailed version of "how to" or offer to coach them in their first effort.


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