Sunday, February 05, 2017

We don't need a “process” we have working agreements...

“Yeah, well, I had to work around the process to get this stuff done for the customer.”
Doesn't that sound familiar? And more often than not people on the same team nod in agreement and work on like nothing happened. And soon somebody else says “Yeah, well, I had to work around the process ...”

But how about “Yeah, well, I had to violate what I agreed to upon how we work together to get the stuff done for the customer?”
In my experience people tend to be more easily annoyed or even upset by this latter violation of trust. But even more importantly the likelihood that people will re-negotiate their working agreements is also significantly higher.

That's why I try to convince my clients not to talk about “the process” but rather about working agreements.

Enter Scrum and Kanban

Now this is where approaches like Scrum, XP, FDD, SDSM or Kanban, to name a few, can hugely differ. Take Kanban and Scrum for example.
While Scrum is a Process Framework with very strict roles (at least for the Product Owner and the Scrum Master) Kanban is an approach for process control and process improvement. In many Scrum implementations I have seen, people have to “work around” things from the book. When –to name an example– was the last time you saw a person acting as Product Owner really having the final say on priorities?

Kanban on the other hand explicitly requires that we “Make process policies explicit” (4th General Practice of Kanban) – I like to restate that as “make our working agreements explicit.”

And once we start negotiating these agreements we actually start to “Improve collaboratively, [and] evolve experimentally,” as the 6th General Practice of Kanban describes.

I suggest dropping the chase for the perfect process in favor of finding the best working agreements (aka process policies) for the current situation.

till next time
  Michael Mahlberg

P.S.: The "General Practices" used to be called "Core Properties", but since the Kanban Condensed Guide, "General Practices" seems to be canonical.

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