Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Snakes in the Garden

There's an Arab expression "When you allow a snake to live in your garden, it will eventually come into your house." I heard it used this week in reference to Osama Bin Laden, but that's not what this blog post is about.

When I was first learning about Scrum, one of the thoughts that kept surfacing is that Scrum won't fix all your problems, but it will make them more visible, kind of like making that snake visible. The next step then would be to fix the problems (get rid of the snake). While Scrum does talk about inspect and adapt, it's really focused on the team level. Sometimes the problems you may face are bigger then that, and Scrum doesn't provide the solution to fix them.

This is where Lean can help out. A key principle of Lean is looking at the entire value stream, not just your development lifecycle. I had a conversation lately about organizations that have separate QA teams that do the testing after development. In a non-Lean organization I was working at, there was a handoff to QA after development, which resulted in a number of problems that caused delays. If we took a Lean approach, we would have worked with QA to optimize the entire process. So we failed to get the snake out of our garden.

What snakes are in your garden?

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