Let’s distinguish between what belongs to Raytheon as intellectual property and what is in the community of practitioners.
Lean-Agile principles are taught in universities after having been applied in automobile manufacturing and presented at public conferences for more than two decades and in software development for over a decade. Agile and Lean principles are not owned by our organization. The literature is full of excellent discourses on Agile principles and Lean product development principles.
“Obey the principles without being bound by them.”
Principles change little, if at all. Methods from their application change continuously as do the circumstances of their use.
"But examine the matter from first principles."
Like Thomas Edison, we have stood upon the shoulders of giants:
Toyota, which discovered many of the Lean principles and applied them to automobile manufacturing.
Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum
David Anderson, who discovered and applied the Kanban principles at Microsoft and other places
The signers of the Agile Manifesto, aimed at software developers
Edward Deming, a quality guru
Software practitioners who have been applying these ideas for over a decade and sharing their experiences at public conferences and on the Internet
We saw that what these pioneers described could work for learning experience product development just as well as it works for software product development.
We developed our methods, reducing them to practice. Our specific methods are proprietary. We spent much time in experimenting to find what works and what does not work. We used the scientific method to confirm for ourselves that Lean-Agile principles are valid.
To get learning experiences created quickly, you can use companies like ours (the fast way) or you can develop your own Lean-Agile methods (the slow way) for your organization and then apply them to make your own courseware. Both paths to Lean-Agile work. We say the principles of Lean-Agile can help your organization to the degree you apply the principles. In this book, we will not share our specific methods because we use them to improve our own business. However, we will share some of our experiences from the journey. Then, rather like industry conferences, we also hope to hear from you and learn from your experiences when you share your journey.
We have noticed some people in the software Agile community trying to claim their particular method is the only way to "do" Agile. Yet in our experience, correct principles applied to specific context often result in tailored methods being more effective for that specific place and time. So we are wary of people who claim that their method is the only true way. We can all derive methods from principles. Some methods like Scrum and Kanban seem to have been proven superior over competing ideas, but even then the idea of Lean-Agile is to adapt and adjust as necessary. The goal is not perfect alignment with someone else’s step-by-step methods or even dogma, but improvement of your own situation.
We have adjusted our methods to apply the principles in newer conditions. Some teams are mature. Other teams are newer. Some people have had exposure to Lean-Agile, others are completely new to it. Our customers get more comfortable as they see the risks being reduced with each iteration. All of these and hundreds of other contextual details change how we currently apply the principles of Lean-Agile. So this book is not a recipe book with our secret sauce or step-by-step instructions. Rather it is a story of how we have applied these principles in our specific circumstances that hopefully helps you better understand what we do and perhaps helps you apply the principles in your own unique circumstances. Even if competitors discover our current methods, they should vary their own implementation because their context is different and the principles likely suggest different methods. Our methods will change over time as our own conditions change and as we strive for perfection.
Following anyone else’s methods without understanding the underlying principles will leave you exposed to additional risk.
The prudent way is for you to take the time and learn the principles and how they relate to one another so you can adjust appropriately. Or hire us. Or hire a consultant.
Anyone can learn these principles and apply them to their own unique circumstances. We gained our understanding gradually from much experimentation. The slower way can work for you too.
None of the principles presented herein are new, we have simply applied the principles to fit training circumstances, courseware rather than software. Our teams have created software too, but it generally has served the purposes of the courseware as a junior partner, so we sometimes lump software into the general term courseware as the product that is our focus in achieving specific learning outcomes.
We have condensed what we’ve learned from the software community discussions and a few things about how we’ve applied the same principles to organizational training learning experience product development.
Your efforts to adopt Lean-Agile may be rejected at first, depending greatly on how you present the ideas, your current organizational context and the opportunities at the time.
One could argue that although business schools teach the principles of business, some businesses seem to apply and execute those principles more effectively than others in their context.
We want to thank Jeff Sutherland for his contributions to Agile Scrum as one of its creators. We wrote the first draft of this book just before seeing Jeff’s book, "Scrum, The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time" at an airport bookstore. Due to many Internet descriptions of Agile including software jargon and methods, some people may have a hard time getting past the jargon to envision a future state in other domains. However, Jeff did a great job of explaining Scrum to more generalized audiences in his book and we recommend it for most any type of project with two or more people involved.
One of our customers, the United States Army, provides a similar pattern. They teach the principles of warfare first and then train with various methods of applying the principle in various conditions. The methods continue to change often with the circumstances, but the principles continue to stand the test of time. Many armies continue to learn the principles of warfare, but not all apply them equally well. It is the continual improvement of the methods used and the quality of the leadership that ultimately wins in the chaos and complexity of armed conflicts. So it is with Agile principles and business uses of Lean-Agile as a project management approach for making training.
Teach your teams the principles, continually improve your current methods and lead Lean-Agile initiatives well. Also share at training industry conferences about your journey.