Training organizations vary significantly. Some types include:

  • A group which buys learning experiences for their organization

  • A training group supporting hardware product development or manufacturing of systems

  • A L&D group supporting a human resources learning and development organization or sales training

  • A training group supporting software product development

  • A training group supporting a services company or organization

  • A training group selling training products to businesses and governments

  • Volunteers in an open source project

How you adapt Lean-Agile to your organization depends on your organization in addition to other constraints. The following sections provide some suggestions.

A Buyer Group which Procures Learning Experiences for their Organization

Some groups buy third-party training products and services for their organization to help the organizational members better perform and help the organization meet its goals. Perhaps buyer groups may not yet have heard of Lean-Agile as it applies to training. Benefits to buyers of Lean-Agile include:

Buyer Benefits
  • Visibility

    • All stakeholders are provided with maximum visibility into project progress

    • Less surprises, less "trust us" and more "show me"

    • Use actual learning experience increments as the measure of progress with both buyer’s internal stakeholders and the contractor/supplier

    • Frequent delivery of chunks, or increments, of the total learning experience

    • Earlier and improved buyer inspections and evaluations of working learning experience increment deliveries

    • Promotes transparency and improves decision-making with up-to-date progress data

  • Predictable Costs and Schedule

    • Fixed duration iterations improve predictability, easier to check the amount of work the development can perform in fixed-schedule time boxes

    • The cost each learning objective (LO) is easier to see, giving more information that may be used in rapid trade-off decision making when prioritizing LOs.

  • Mitigates Risk and Improves Predictability

    • Less buyer risk when trying contractors/suppliers with which they have no prior experience working together

    • Reduced risk of not getting the learning experience the buyer needs

    • Less contractor/supplier misunderstanding of buyer requirements after first few iterations

    • Prioritizes high-risk aspects of development, enabling early risk reduction

    • Most challenging chunks of the learning experience prioritized first so the risk decreases towards the end of a project

  • Collaboration

    • Buyer stakeholder engagement increased using iteration demos

    • Smaller batches of work expected by the buyer’s subject matter experts (SMEs)

    • Accommodates as much buyer involvement during design and development as desired

    • More collaborative relationship with contractors/suppliers, and less adversarial because iteration demos allow transparency of progress

  • High Quality

    • Earlier and improved buyer opportunities to give feedback to the development team

    • More opportunities to check contractor/supplier responsiveness incorporating buyer feedback

    • Improved quality discovering and resolving defects earlier

    • Getting feedback about how well the team is meeting customer expectations earlier

    • Leads to less rework as the project’s end-date draws near

  • Allows Change

    • Easier to respond to changing buyer business conditions or stakeholder needs during the project with less impact (financial, schedule)

    • Easier to negotiate for swap-out of similarly sized efforts even well into the project (for example, swap requirements E, F, G with requirements X, Y, Z instead)

    • Less contractual quibbling because of the flexibility of the approach (with Lean-Agile contracts)

    • Buyer determines the priority of LOs during the project, helping the development team to deliver the LOs that provide the most buyer value.

    • Delivers the project needed at the end, not the one requested at the beginning

If they want the benefits of Lean-Agile when they buy any training that is not pre-built and pre-packaged, they will have to add a requirement that Lean-Agile be used in the development. Buyer groups will also have to carefully select which suppliers have sufficient expertise with Lean-Agile to meet the expectations of themselves and their stakeholders. They will have to adjust their reporting expectations of their chosen suppliers. They may want to join the supplier’s daily scrum/standup meetings. They will want to join all iteration demonstrations to see the working learning experiences made to date and inspect how well it meets their requirements and expectations. Later sections cover the changes buyers need to make in more detail.

A Training Group Supporting Software Product Development

Some groups support organizations that produce software products for enterprise use or for departments or small businesses. It is very likely that these groups have already heard of Lean-Agile and possible that the software teams they support already use Agile methods like Scrum to create the software. Adapt some of this book by documenting training for the product increment during each iteration as a member of a cross-functional team developing the software product. These teams also have to carefully time when to create training to avoid rework. If they attempt to build training too early in the product development lifecycle, before the design is stable they will experience much rework. Training professionals should be sure to join the daily scrums to keep in the loop and support the software product. Customers may come to your offices for training or join virtual and online training you develop to learn how to get the most out of the complex software product suite your organization makes. These teams will likely need to adopt the Lean-Agile terminology used by their parent organization. For example, if the software group uses Agile Scrum as a method, then rather than using a generic term like "iterations", you will gain more traction if you use "sprints" and all the other Scrum terminology since your stakeholders already use those terms.

A Training Group Supporting Hardware Product Development or Manufacturing of Systems

Some groups support engineering groups that make hardware systems like weapon systems, semiconductor equipment manufacturing, and other manufacturers. These groups often produce training to operate and maintain the systems their employer builds and sells. They will likely have in-house SMEs to validate their training content. They may have training facilities with labs that include the equipment used during instructor-led training. These groups may already be familiar with Lean Manufacturing, but may not have considered using Lean for learning experience development yet. These groups can gain much from Lean-Agile. Building training for existing systems being manufactured is easier. Sometimes, these teams also have to support new system models and then must carefully time when to create the training to avoid excessive rework that inevitably occurs if they attempt to build training too early in the product development lifecycle, before the design is stable. Training professionals may have to use Lean-Agile by themselves if the larger organization is not using it yet. Another issue for these training groups is the overloading of terms. Lean Manufacturing means different things by Kanban than the Kanban board we discuss in this book. Be sure to compare and contrast Lean-Agile for learning experience development as we describe it against the literature on Lean Manufacturing so that you know when to clarify with your internal audiences.

An L&D Group Supporting a Human Resources, Learning and Development Organization or Sales Training

Some groups produce in-house training for their own organizations to help the organizational members better perform and help the organization meet its goals. In companies, this may include New Employee Training and Leadership Development curricula as part of a larger program of operational assignments and mentoring. Training professionals in these organizations may use Lean-Agile by themselves if the larger organization is not using it yet. Prioritization of what gets created first can sometimes be an issue for these training groups. These groups can also use Kanban boards to track the progress of any contracted suppliers creating custom learning experiences, games or simulations that are not pre-packaged or simply configured for your organization.

A Training Group Supporting a Services Company or Organization

Some groups create training to support the services that their organization provides to customers. Applying Lean-Agile in this environment may be more difficult, but it is still possible. Focus on the training scope first and gain successes.

A Training Group Selling Training Products to Businesses and Governments

Much of this book is written from our perspective of a training group that builds custom-made learning experience products for paying customers. This produces certain influences on how you might adapt Lean-Agile. In particular, since these groups are not supporting the main product, but are themselves the creators of the primary product, the way they apply Lean-Agile is as the main group, not as a supporting function.

In this book, we will use the word buyer or customer to mean your internal customers if you primarily work with other departments or groups, and to mean external customers if you primarily work with customers outside the normal boundaries of your organization.

Volunteers in an Open Source Project

Because volunteers are geographically spread across the globe, using a virtual Kanban board like Trello could help such a volunteer project. The use of cards for work items with accountability avatars or initials allows all involved to see who is doing what, and to coordinate their efforts without laborious meetings to talk through status when the data on status is visually available to all with access to the Kanban board. This can work for either training or technical publications. A Kanban board is also helpful when the time zones of those participating are not conducive to synchronous meetings.


Line By Line

Here a Little, There a Little, Layer by Layer.

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