Scrum events, including Retrospective, Planning, Daily Scrums, Refining, and Review meetings

Context: Creative people—such as engineers, designers, managers, researchers, lawyers, architects and investors—increasingly work in project teams.

Creative teams take too long

Creative people often brush off customers with, “It will be done when it’s done!” If creative professionals had done it before, we could expect them to estimate and deliver on time, but copying isn’t creative, and real creativity naturally involves uncertainty. Many have tried to impose detailed planning to creative efforts, but overplanning has produced extraordinary failures costing billions of dollars [char2005]. Nevertheless, the value of creative work often depends on timely delivery, and patrons can become desperate.

Continue reading


Context: We have a goal requiring creative effort. We want to succeed.

Overplanning increases risk …

When embarking on a creative project, success seems certain. We plan optimistically, and then almost immediately after we start, delays and challenges emerge. The plan and likely outcome keep diverging. We become more realistic. We double down on effort. We plan with more detail, but encounter even more problems.

Continue reading

Agile Living

Measure economic progress, Proactively experiment to improve, Limit work in process, Embrace collective responsibility, Solve systemic problems

Agile Base Pattern Summary, Erik Gibson

What I’m looking for in the dharma is not just a set of effective self-help techniques, stripped of philosophical and ethical context. I’m seeking to find a way of life.  —Stephen Batchelor

Two years ago, I paused writing about agile practices. Many factors contributed: I was considering a move to Asia, I was separating from my spouse of 28 years (amicable, but complex), a friend offered me a management position in his biotech company. It became less urgent to write about agility, than to address more immediate needs. But while I didn’t write about agility, I used agility in my personal life.

Continue reading

Is Agile a Subset of Lean Manufacturing?

If you hang around agilists long enough, someone will mention lean manufacturing, Toyota Production System or Kanban. Since these concepts predate Agile, you might wonder how they relate, and perhaps why lean manufacturing wasn’t directly applied to software (until perhaps recently with Lean/Kanban). You might wonder whether Agile is just a subset of Lean Manufacturing.

Lean manufacturing floor

Continue reading

Call for Papers: Agile / Lean at HICSS
(submissions due June 15, 2016)

Are you exploring agile/lean management practices? Submit an agile/lean research paper or experience report to the Agile/Lean mini-track at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS). The Agile/Lean mini-track at HICSS has been operating continuously since 2007. Influential papers on Scrum patterns, agile metrics, lean forecasting, qualitative grounded inquiry, distributed development and large-company experience reports have appeared in past years.

The HICSS conference, sponsored by IEEE, brings together a broad cross-section of researchers in system sciences—including software development, social media, energy transmission, marketing systems, knowledge management and information systems. Agile and lean management practices apply to all of these fields. HICSS 50 will be held January 4-7, 2017 at Hilton Waikoloa Village, Big Island, Hawaii.

In conjunction with, and in celebration of, the 50th HICSS conference, selected submissions from this mini-track may be selected for fast-track consideration in the Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application (JITTA) and the AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction.

If you are researching or innovating in applying agile and lean principles, we welcome your submission. The full call for papers is here: Agile/Lean HICSS-50 Call for Papers.

Help us extend the agile and lean frontier, by presenting your work at HICSS.

Collaborate to Fix Systemic Problems

Context: When unimpeded by outside forces, we rapidly adapt to circumstances and succeed, but this perfect independence rarely exists.

Problem: External factors limit our flow …

We don’t have the knowledge, specialty resources, elasticity or authorization to do everything ourselves, but relying on others puts us at risk.

Continue reading

Agile Leadership Patterns: 15 Minute Video

Want to understand agile and its challenges fast? Check out this comprehensive 15 minute video.

Dan Greening (Senex Rex) and Brent Barton (SolutionsIQ) explore the fundamental patterns of agility; how leadership inhibits and nurtures agility; why agile is hard to maintain; how to tell rapidly if a person, team or organization is agile; how to build agile manager teams to tackle tough strategic problems; and how to hire agile leaders.


Continue reading

Limit Work in Process

Agile Base Pattern: Limit Work in Process Context: We measure our economic progress and experiment with processes and products. However, experiments can take a long time, and failures can have huge costs. We have a lot of balls in the air, a lot of inventory to sell, and a lot of great stuff that isn’t quite done yet.

We have a problem …

We adapt too slowly …

Continue reading

Chunk Before Choosing

Agile Pattern: Chunk Before Choosing

Creative people with limited resources, such as product managers, developers, CEOs, investors and artists, must choose which items to assess, staff or fund. They compare value, cost, flexibility and risk to make a decision.

Faced with too many options, we choose badly …

Continue reading

How to Read and Write Pattern Languages

Simon Silaidis, Urban Calligraphy "Skyfall"

Pattern languages can help us understand complex systems. Read how pattern languages work, and how you can write your own. We are defining agility and its practices using a pattern language called the Agile Canon. Using the first five patterns in the Agile Canon, you can diagnose whether your team is agile, whether it can keep its agility, and whether it expands agility beyond the team’s boundaries.

Continue reading