When the rubber hits the road: Agile the Apparent “Fire Fighter”

As a process and efficiency Coach within MDO, my one heart-burn is when I hear, " We can't plan,  we're in a very very compressed schedule!!! ". This is when I realize that our process needs to cater to the situation rather than the other way round. 

When working in a compressed schedule, essentially, teams are in a fire fighting mode.  Any and every type of process is thrown out the window but are we throwing the baby out together with the bath water?  Is there a situation where we can put a process in place to facilitate the situation and in fact make it a less stressful condition to tolerate?  The answer is a resounding YES! 

As a product marches towards productization,  this is exactly what happened.  3 weeks to produce a piece of code that would be churning out customer samples what exactly what we needed to test out our Agile the fire fighter! This paper will detail out how we utilized Agile and its tools to help the CherryTrail Team respond to change, support customer needs and PRQ on time.

We utilized Agile and Lean Principles to dictate how we are going to operate.  This paper will dictate step by step.  Here are the principles I am referring to

. Systematically Eliminate Waste

–        See and Attack Waste.  Don’t Accommodate it

2. Build Quality In and Root-Cause Problems Immediately

–        Work to Prevent Defects, not just Detect Them

–        “Stop the Line” if you fail - Detect, Contain and Root Cause problems immediately

3. Reduce Cycle Times and Learning Cycles

–        Establish a Cadence and Limit Work to Capacity

–        Keep Plans Visible to Pull Work and make Knowledge Flow

–        Minimize the time from any problem event to the learning being captured

4. Learn, Innovate and Improve 

–        Use the scientific method via PDCA and LAMDA to Learn and Innovate Rapidly

–        “Go and See” for yourself – never assume

–        Create Usable Knowledge through Learn – Apply – Reflect

5. Make Data Driven Decisions

–        Build deep understanding before deciding by exploring multiple solutions, evaluating options thoroughly, and choosing the best for the system

–        Defer Commitment while you Learn First, Then Decide at the Last Responsible Moment

6. Engage Everyone

–        Respect our people by striving to systematically overcome obstacles

–        Tie work to business value and drive decision-making to the lowest responsible level

–        Create cross functional teams of responsible experts

–        Develop leaders with system expertise that teach what they know

7. Optimize the Entire System

–        Continuously improve cycle time, quality & customer satisfaction across entire value stream

–        Correct governance and incentive systems that encourage local optimization.

–        Focus on %Value Add Time instead of %Utilization of our resources 

In order to appreciate the above and work on a process that will be agreed upon we needed to :

  1. Recognize what the needs are.   DO DIRECT OBSERVATION.
  2. Understand the CULTURE of the Team.
    1. What were they doing before?
    2. What was the history of the team?  Did they just come out of other project with similar characteristics
    3. What are the hot buttons
    4. How to engage people
  3. VISUALS are important.
    1. How can we capitalize on visuals.  We’ll be sharing this.
    2. How do we show our progress and the effects that it gives
  4. Rally the MANAGEMENT
    1. The team needs to see the management involve.  No Lip Service
  5. We need a CADENCE.
  6. Create a conducive ENVIRONMENT
  7. SEE the Big Picture
  8. Manage the CHANGES 

The paper and presentation will further expand on the above 8 points as we journey through the last 6 months of the a product going into delivery.  This is not the normal mode of operation but based on signals that the program will be going thru same aggressive scheduling.  We will also be sharing those signals.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

In order to appreciate the above and work on a process that will be agreed upon we needed to :

  1. Recognize what the needs are.   DO DIRECT OBSERVATION.
  2. Understand the CULTURE of the Team.
    1. What were they doing before?
    2. What was the history of the team?  Did they just come out of other project with similar characteristics
    3. What are the hot buttons
    4. How to engage people
  3. VISUALS are important.
    1. How can we capitalize on visuals.  We’ll be sharing this.
    2. How do we show our progress and the effects that it gives
  4. Rally the MANAGEMENT
    1. The team needs to see the management involve.  No Lip Service
  5. We need a CADENCE.
  6. Create a conducive ENVIRONMENT
  7. SEE the Big Picture
  8. Manage the CHANGES

Learning Outcome

How to effectively enable a process that will not frustrate your team with rules and standards but still keep the sanity of the team.  People are our greatest assets.  Agile and lean Principles is the answer

Target Audience

Agile Users who are interested in working thru compressed schedules when teams are on the verge of tearing their hair out.

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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  • Naresh Jain
    By Naresh Jain  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    Thanks for the proposal Joseph. Please point us to the slides of this talk and video from past presentation.