Using Lean Thinking to Develop a Testing Mindset

Lean ThinkingWhat is Lean Thinking?

Lean thinking defines value as providing benefit to the customer; anything else is waste.” — Eric Ries

Testing, like Lean thinking is a mindset. Both are required to achieve a practice of continuous improvement. Consider how you “provide benefit to the customer”. The last work decision you made: was it to prioritize one piece of work over another, change a certain feature, or tweak your marketing messaging? How did you make that decision? And most importantly, how did you know that what you decided is what the customer actually wants?

Testing is the vehicle through which the accumulation of experience, insight, education and the constant reassessment of our assumptions allows us to better understand our target across all facets of their journey, first as a buyer and then a customer. It’s the method of eliminating waste by approaching our work with a curious, humble, and methodical mindset. These three key characteristics power the testing mindset needed to achieve continuous improvement.

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Keeping Remote Teams Cohesive, Part 3: (Over-) Communication is Key

communication

This is part of a three-part series on keeping remote teams cohesive. We recommend that you begin with parts 1 (hiring) and 2 (onboarding) before reading this post on communication.

In the final installment of this series, I’ll discuss the importance of effective communication — over-communication, in fact — in remote teams. I’ll share the communication strategies and methods that I’ve seen be most effective for keeping remote teams cohesive.

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The Lead Time and Cycle Time Debate: When Does the Clock Start?

lead time and cycle time

Recently, a group of my LeanKit coworkers and I were talking Kanban. The age-old debate surrounding the definitions of lead time and cycle time came up, and we all rolled our eyes a bit. The Lean community has rehashed this topic a million times already, but it seems we still can’t seem to reach a consensus. The topic can be confusing to those new to Kanban, and unfailingly frustrates experienced practitioners. In this post, I’ll explain why these definitions are commonly debated. I’ll also explain how a simple definition can help you make the most of these Lean metrics.

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Using Flow Metrics to Deliver Faster

flowmetrics

If you practice Kanban, you already understand the incredible insight that visualization can bring to the way you work. But do you know how to use that insight to optimize your workflow? You might be surprised to learn that you already have all the data you need to begin optimizing flow — you just need to learn a few basic Kanban calculations to turn that raw data into actionable flow metrics.

We asked Dan Vacanti, CEO and co-founder of ActionableAgile and author of Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability, to share his insights on how to use Kanban metrics to optimize flow. In a series of posts, Dan will explain how to harness the power of data in Kanban to help you maximize the value you can bring to your customers.

In this post, you’ll learn the basic metrics of flow, and how to analyze the data your board data to begin optimizing your workflow. In future posts, you’ll learn how to use Kanban calculations to continously improve your process.

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Keeping Remote Teams Cohesive, Part 1: 6 Steps to Hiring Remote Employees

remote-teams-cohesive

Now more than ever, companies are experimenting with allowing their employees to work from home. Some companies don’t have a physical office at all, while others maintain a balance of onsite and remote employees. Allowing remote teams gives companies access to talent all over the world, opening the organization to new opportunities, networks, and skill sets than would be available to them in their local area. Being part of remote teams also presents new challenges, for team members and managers alike.

Great remote teams don’t just happen; they’re built. Building a great remote team begins with strategic, intentional hiring practices. In order to scale your business, this process needs to be thorough, well-documented, and effective at both identifying strong candidates for remote work, and surfacing any potential issues before you make your decision.

In my fifteen years of experience as an App Development and Development Manager, I’ve worked with and managed all types of remote teams. In a series of posts, I’m going to share the important lessons I’ve learned about how to keep remote teams cohesive.

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Lean Improvement: What to Do When Urgent Trumps Important

lean improvement

Wouldn’t It Be Great If…

In the world of IT Ops, we face a constant tug-of-war between implementing new technology, keeping the lights on, and resolving unplanned issues. In the thick of our work, we’re constantly generating ideas for how to automate, standardize, and improve our processes (i.e., “Wouldn’t it be great if….”). We know that if we could spend less time trying to keep everything afloat, we could spend more time providing value with new technology. We know the importance of  practicing Lean improvement (Kaizen) — but what do you do when urgent trumps important?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet”? If we don’t take the time to improve our environment, we’ll constantly face the same tedious challenges — and those challenges will keep growing, creating a mountain of technical debt. If we don’t practice Lean improvement, we’ll never be able to reach the level of sustainability or predictability that would make our lives a whole lot easier.

Luckily, because we visualize our work in LeanKit, we have a place to document our ideas for Lean improvement — which helps us actually do them. Visualizing these ideas alongside our project, maintenance, and break-fix work helps us keep them top of mind, and allows us to find ways to prioritize important improvement work. Keep reading to learn how we balance our Lean improvement efforts with our regular workflow.

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