(This is the first in a Daily Thoughts series. I used to blog every day, but during the writing of the Personal Kanban book and creation of the Personal Kanban website, I fell out of practice. This is getting back to true blogging. Fast, unedited, perhaps a little more politically incorrect here and there.)
Now, however, I would replace this with "Collaboration over process." Here’s why:
What's happened with agile is that the rhetoric is so team empowering that it transforms teams into heroes. Like individual heroes, this divides them from the rest of the org. It turns them into inward focusing groups that are optimized for their own product and have a well constructed but ill-fitting interface into the rest of the organization. While it was team collaborative and was more collaborative with outside stakeholders, the rhetoric still focused on the teams.
But the teams are made up of individuals. And the team operates within an organization. And the team has outside resources. And the team has clients. There’s a lot going on with those outside interactions that need to be explicit.
I really took the Agile manifesto seriously. Like many, it was pinned on my office wall. I could bludgeon uncooperative employees or clients with it. I could wax eloquent about it. For me, finding its shortcomings was a painful and lengthy process. I slowly came to the realization that, as it had aged, Agile had codified, ossified, solidified into something you could easily do wrong and that was nearly impossible to do right. The words in the manifesto no longer represented what was happening in practice.
So, I began to strip away some of the trappings of over-loaded agile at my company. We replaced sprints with release cycles. We destroyed the product owner for a fully collaborative relationship with clients. When we started with kanban, it was game-on. In 2005, when we ran our first kanban driven project, we had a very different view of kanban - but even then visualization of flow almost immediately started to change how we worked.
Our process evolved rapidly during that project. At every standup people had a suggestion of how to make it better. There was a collaborative spirit not just for creating the software, but also for how the project was managed. We were no longer following a rule-book of best practices. We were building something that worked for that particular team building that particular software for that particular client.
In other words, the team had the freedom to truly optimize.
Don’t let anyone say you are doing a process “wrong" – find what your “right” is.