Defining the Kanban Input Queue

Kanban Input Queue

I have been reading David Anderson‘s wonderful book on Kanban this week as a means to get more specific on the project improvements I want to make based on what I’m learning with Lean Enterprise. This book has disrupted up my approach to backlog management and prioritization. Within a Scrum or Waterfall process, whenever a customer asks for a request, you put it on a list and regularly prioritize that list. The backlog as a whole is the input queue in the system.

Currently there are 397 issues on our backlog. We can’t possibly be meaningfully prioritizing all of these.

In a Kanban system, this is seen as waste. Why spend all this time prioritizing something when only the top five things at any one time are important? Is there a way to communicate to users that we just won’t get around to certain things? [Read more…]

Is Continuous Delivery Needed in Our Organization?

continuous delivery

Continuous Delivery sounds wonderful when you’re at a conference. You hear about companies like Netflix that deploy to production many times per day. When learning Chef, people often ask me if we really need something that will enable us to deploy that often. Some of them are on projects that take many months to deliver, and the customer would have it no other way.

I answer this problem by splitting it up into two questions: [Read more…]

The One Metric that Matters


The more I measure the more successful I am. I’ve known this for a while, but I realize that the lack of measurement is still the thing that is holding my career back. I’ve already written about how measurement is key to The Lean Startup Cycle of using the scientific method to find innovation in your organization. So I’m hooked with this idea, but I desperately want to implement it in a good way. I want to have a breakthrough. [Read more…]

Progression of Responsibility


While reading Lean EnterpriseI’m coming up with a lot of great ideas and improvements for my organization. Much of the book so far has been about how to properly execute portfolio management within an enterprise to make sure that (1) you maximize ROI, and (2) you don’t manage your existing proven products with an investment horizon of this year or this quarter the same way that you would manage innovation products that have a longer investment horizon. It’s a fascinating read.

Something occurred to me though. In order to gain entry into the higher level strategic decisions, one must first master the lower level ones. Here’s a progression I can see, that I wish I knew about ten years ago: [Read more…]

My Son’s Choice Between Negativity and Taking Action


My son has felt negative about everything lately which has created for him a vicious cycle of disdain and despair. He is a lot like me, so whenever we learn a lesson about him, it usually has something to do with how I’m wired as well. He and I sat in bed a few nights ago and I walked him through this very basic method of how leaders have a choice to make: [Read more…]

Programming Ruby (Pickaxe) Book Review


When I started learning Chef in earnest I realized quickly that my need to know what was happening was leading me to need to dive into a book on Ruby and figure out what all the magic I was seeing in Chef was really about. Chef has an amazing way of being usable for those who don’t know much Ruby, but I’m the curious type that just needs to know.

I started out with The Ruby Programming Language but found it to be too much of a reference work that basically stated facts about the language instead of walking the reader through the learning process. I was delighted to find Programming Ruby to be exactly that. [Read more…]

The Lean Startup Cycle


When Herman Hauser created a team to create the ARM processor, now the processor that runs most of the mobile devices you know and love, he remarked*:

When we decided to do a microprocessor, in hindsight, I think I made two great decisions. I trusted the team and gave them two things that Intel and Motorola had never given their people: the first was no money and the second was no people. They had to keep it simple.

When you start a project the normal course of action is to try to get as many people as possible so you will be able to have enough resources to accomplish the goal. In Lean Enterprise, the authors advocate another way, what they call the Lean Startup Cycle: [Read more…]

Mission Command


In the past whenever I found myself micromanaged, I complained that I’m not in the military, and I should have freedom to operate in my best judgement to solve the problem. I viewed the military as a command and control environment where orders were specifically given and followed to the T. I then reasoned that this is not how successful organizations operate.

The excellent book Lean Enterprise has debunked this myth with a concept of Mission Command that I’d like to share with you. [Read more…]

Customizing Chef Book Review

Customizing Chef

When I was stuck trying to understand simple concepts about Chef, I bought two books: Learning Chef (read the review) and Customizing Chef by Jon Cowie.

Learning Chef gave me the basic concepts, but Customizing Chef gave me the deep understanding I needed to evaluate the tool for my large, complicated organization.

In the closed-source Microsoft world, you figure out what the thing can do and just accept it. The book opened my eyes that Chef allows me to use a skill (reading code) that I’ve built up for over ten years. This leads to a much deeper understanding of how it works than just “trust us this feature does X”.

[Read more…]