Can Kaplan Use Agile Practices With Its Biz Funk Teams? Yes We Kanban!

I recently posted on the Kaplan Engineering blog — the post’s full text can be seen here — but wanted to post here the twelve things I’ve learned in helping a book-writing team write their book using Kanban:

  1. If someone says she wants to “go agile,” have lots of direct conversations with her about what that means before you start “going agile”
  2. When forming a new team, get executives excited about the idea first, as this makes everything else easier
  3. Be clear about the team’s goal immediately and often
  4. Be clear about non-negotiable things immediately (e.g., the book will need to go to the publisher on December 15th)
  5. Until you realize that coaching the team will take more of your time than than you initially thought, you will not be putting in enough time
  6. Starting a kanban pilot with a biz funk (AKA non-software) team is like adopting a puppy, but even though this is a totally brilliant / awesome and mostly accurate metaphor in a lot of ways, it is a little condescending somehow, and so I will refrain from going into this in more detail
  7. Aw heck, here’s one: show the value of the wee-wee pad early and be rewarded with good wee-wee pad habits for life
  8. It is 2012 and video conferencing is easy to use and often free, so if you ever have remote team members, they should be up on video for every single ceremony, no excuses, no exceptions (One exception: you can make do without video if hurricane Sandy has hit and public transit is down and your house does not have power and you are only able to dial into a meeting using a cell phone that’s been charged in your car)
  9. Whether you have remote team members or not, you should leave a group instant messenger chat window open all day, as this will help to quickly answer questions that would otherwise have become an impediment
  10. A team can adopt Kanban without knowing that they are adopting Kanban; simply use regular words to describe the value
  11. A well-run standup is a powerful thing for people who have never participated in one; if you do nothing else, conduct a well-run standup
  12. Someone, somewhere, will think less of you if you link to Wikipedia
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