Slower, Better, Cheaper- Why Scaled Learning Is Our Future and How to Get it Today

There are two types of classroom training – one where the instructor dumps information into the students minds. The second when labs are involved so that students are mostly interacting with the instructor or doing work.

This post refers to the first type.

Classroom training is centuries old. The recent fad of adding exercises and games helps, but doesn’t change the fact that the students forget 80-90% of what they’ve learned after just a week. Training is also focused on a canned solution instead of people’s problems.

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Creating a True Community of Service Providers for Agile

FLEX’s unique architecture enables it to incorporate any # of practices that are consistent with Flow and Lean. Based on this ability I have created the the FLEX Partnership program which allows FLEX Sr Consultants to provide their own services in FLEX. We’ve already started this with Nancy Van Schooenderwoert who is an expert in both FDA regulated product development and hardware/software projects.

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Refactoring SAFe to FLEX part 1 of 2

Frameworks should be architected in the same way that software systems are. Both need to be able to evolve without adding complexity, be robust and be clear in how their different components interact. Few frameworks, other than FLEX, however, have what could be called an architecture. Most are collections of value and practices loosely overlaying some principles (which, often enough the framework itself doesn’t follow well).

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The Foundations of FLEX

When I started writing up Net Objectives’ 14 years of experience in Agile at scale that has now become FLEX I came from a foundation of the following:

  1. FLEX itself is an hypothesis of the best way for an organization to have a customer realize value. As an hypothesis, it should be continuously tested, validated and improved.
  2. How people react to FLEX must be considered to be part of FLEX (this is a basic tenet of systems thinking, albeit often ignored by most frameworks)
  3. FLEX must both attend to how to provide a well-defined start and how to extend the start
  4. It must be based on the value stream so that it doesn’t inadvertently do sub-optimization
  5. Technical skills must be included in the system and should be considered when deciding on a starting point
  6. Although users will extend FLEX you never transcend it in the sense that what it’s based on is always valid. People will just come up with more innovative methods to use known principles

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FLEX’s launch this week is a harbinger of the next wave of Agile

The Adopting FLEX online workshop gets into full gear next week. I believe this is the start of the next wave of Agile on many levels

Since ’05 I’ve been working on overcoming several challenges:

  1. people need a specific start but there is no one-size fits all
  2. expanding an approach tends to add complexity to it
  3. on-experts often can’t tell if a change is good or not but need this ability in order to be able to improve on their own
  4. providing optional practices so people don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but do this without causing confusion
  5. provide a simple model for Agile product management that aligns both business stakeholders and development groups
  6. provide training in an economical way that doesn’t stop people doing their day jobs and actually enables more interaction while learning

FLEX solves these challenges by incorporating approaches various Net Objectives consultants have done over the last 20 years. FLEX is an expert system that guides consultants in how to help an organization improve by both providing guidance and creating a shorter workshop tailored for the organization that will implement FLEX.

I am excited to have a group of people working with me on taking this into the future.

Learn more here

What If?

What if a leader in Scrum, Kanban, Lean, Flow, SAFe, design patterns, ATDD, …

… when he saw a challenge with a framework he worked on overcoming it

… was focused on results not on creating a unique framework

… didn’t agree with others that there were limitations on what could be done

… didn’t think simple to understand meant difficult to implement

… attended to the dilemmas in creating approaches that were straightforward to start and guided you in improvement

… respected people’s knowledge and didn’t think they should trust consultant’s recommendations but trust themselves after a little guidance

… believed consultants should work themselves out of a job as soon as possible

… thought the attention should be on the work, not the framework

… argued for what worked, not defended frameworks

… put together a framework that incorporated the good that was learned while avoiding the limitations that had been accepted

After 20 years of working on this, there is, and the result is a new kind of framework. One based on patterns thinking that provides a tailored start and includes how to learn to improve. It’s based on laws of development, not my opinion. The first online workshop (with me guiding you) starts this week.

Please let me know if you’re interested.

How does your approach help you start and learn?

Note: This post is one of a series in the post Questions to ask about your approach.

Frameworks should provide a quick start while helping organizations continue to improve. Here are a few different approaches taken.

I. Provide a preset framework that has you do what it says until you learn to adjust (Scrum). The challenge with this is that the preset practices may not fit. This may have them lose faith in the entire transition. In addition, there is nothing in the framework that tells them how to transcend the starting practices. People may eventually feel locked in and just try new things with little guidance.

II. Provide some theory with preset practices (SAFe). This has somewhat the same challenges as I. above with the additional challenge of putting people into cognitive overload which results in few principles being remembered.

Both I & II focus on learning the framework with no training provided to transcend it.

III. Provide great detail in principles and let them figure out the practices. This does ground people in principles, but most want an answer to “what do I do?”

IV. Provide principles, a starting set of practices with options and a roadmap on how to select the practices that work for you. This gets people started on something that works for them while providing a way to improve. Yes, this is FLEX.

FLEX as a Pattern Framework

A pattern is a solution to a recurring problem in a context. Christopher Alexander, who created the concept, says :
“Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.”

In FLEX’s case, the context is achieving business agility – the quick realization of value predictably, sustainably and with high quality. This, of course, requires solving several problems with each of these problems being solved in a different manner. FLEX groups these patterns those patterns that solve the same conceptual problem. Hence it consists of pattern groups with each group consisting of a set of patterns that solve the problem associated with the group. The primary groups are:

  1. Value stream management
  2. Strategies, & initiatives
  3. Portfolio management
  4. Product management
  5. Intake process
  6. Planning
  7. Development
  8. Release
  9. Realization

Patterns must include their purpose, the forces they deal with and their proposed solution(s). Patterns are also named in order to be able to identify them. This has the added value of improved communication.