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People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. Simon Sinek says that this is the fundamental reasoning behind what he refers to as the Golden Circle, which he describes as a natural law occurring in many forms, in the same way as the Golden Ratio. He cites example of the Golden Circle including Martin Luther King, who said “I have a dream” not “I have a plan” and the Wright brothers, who succeeded first with manned flight despite having less money, education, connections and publicity as competitors. The Golden Circle suggests that to maximize our chances of success we should start with WHY, before determining HOW, and finally WHAT. Starting with WHAT will lead to focusing on activity at the expense of outcomes.
The Golden Circle
Starting a kanban system design with WHY involves knowing why you want to use a kanban system and the goals you are aiming for, rather than using a kanban approach just because it seems popular or a good idea. Therefore, begin by
By starting with WHY. the product of the system’s elements and interactions. Then the kanban system will be a means to an end. rather than an end in itself. and your kanban system can be HOW you get there. WHY A WHY is what motivates people to take action. but it is not a WHY. WHY is the equivalent of the System Thinking premise of purpose. and guide WHAT you do to get there. Starting with WHAT leads to the less scary but more common design. It is a purpose. Money is a necessary precondition for business. Complex Systems have a purpose which influences behavior. Making money may also be a desirable result. deciding where you want to go and creating a vision of the future that you hope the kanban system will help create. safe and resilient WHAT. Your WHY is your destination. Magic Roundabout .defining your WHY. It is a reason to care and want to get out of bed in the morning. Dave Snowden uses the Magic Roundabout in Swindon as an example of a complex system whose purpose is to enable a high throughput of cars with a low accident rate. A WHY is not to make money. the roundabouts designers created an effective. despite also being generally regarded as one of the scariest roundabouts in existence. in the same way that breathing is a necessary precondition to living although our purpose in life is not to breathe. a cause or a belief. Reports show that it achieves this purpose.
However. or not doing something at all. Similarly. Value can still be added in small. Thus. Additionally. our natural behavior is to make decisions emotionally. How HOW describes the way that a WHY will be realized. and what work doesn’t add value. David Anderson popularized this idea with the following recipe: Focus on Quality . related requests because the customer comes back for more of the same. condition. conscious thought. which is both an important decision and major investment. the decision was because the house “felt right”. as opposed to exactly the same. the Cerebral Cortex. Our first brain. price etc. the Limbic System is what deals with emotions. One way of describing HOW a Lean or Agile approach enables a WHY is with the metaphor of a Recipe for Success. I had no intention of buying a car when I entered the garage. but fell in love with the car and ended up talking myself into deciding it was an opportunity I would regret if I missed it. I have just bought a new car (well. We then justify those decisions rationally. John Seddon describes failure demand is work that results from not doing something right. is what deals with rationality. consciously and intellectually with facts. and governs our language. HOWs are often ways of differentiating approaches and describing them in comparison to competitors. new for me) and spent a not insignificant amount of money in a totally impulsive purchase. incremental and iterative steps. It can be thought of as a set of guiding principles that help map a WHY to a WHAT. came second. Simon Sinek argues that our brain is wired to start with WHY. That is not to suggest that we should strive for perfection and be right first time with up front analysis and design. instinct. intellect. Subsequent tickets for the exactly same request can be considered failure demand.WHY is always going to be context specific. Think of it like a ticket machine at your local deli. and helps us towards our WHY. Our thinking brain. When a customer first takes a ticket then the request can be considered value demand. A HOW can also be a specific outcome that is to be accomplished without detailing the activity and output required to complete it. location. and instinctively. further tickets could be for similar. but one simple generalization would be that it is to satisfy customer demand. both times I have bought a house. Demand analysis can help understanding of what work adds value. unconsciously. unconscious thought. The size. and governs our behavior.
Explicit policies for how work is done can be created by recognizing how value is created. value. I would suggest that cheaper isn’t even a HOW. focusing on cost will usually result in cost going up. how the work in process is limited. Faster. only beginning new projects or initiatives as Agile to avoid risking current work. and how continuous learning and improvement happens. they are not specific enough to describe WHAT to do. Working Agreements can also be considered as a description of HOW. fully Agile pilot project from which to learn. how that creation is visualized and made transparent. My personal take on HOW to be Agile is in terms of flow. A common explanation for WHY organizations want to become Lean or Agile is “Better. and not WHYs. These are at best HOWs. To paraphrase John Seddon. my colleague Ken Clyne at Rally talks about the fundamentals of Agile as: Focus on customer value Deliver early and often Reduce batch size Pull quality forward Inspect and adapt Create a collaborative culture These recipes are a guide to HOW to achieve Agility in order to achieve a WHY. diving in and moving all project to an Agile approach in one go for clarity of message. Cheaper”. Reduce WIP Balance Capacity against Demand Prioritise Similarly. what cadences are used for synchronization and co-ordination. Options for which path to take include beginning slowly with a single. Delivering value involves making sure that . In fact. Another approach to describing HOW to become Agile is through a transformation strategy or roadmap. However. capability. or incrementally solve specific challenges with certain practices for a more evolutionary transition. Achieving flow involves eliminating delays and focusing on reducing the lead time from concept to consumption.
practices can be associated with HOW agility is demonstrated. I’m sure there are many others. Building capability involves developing people and their skills working as teams aligned to the organization strategy. in terms of flow. Further. Limiting WIP Time-boxing and kanban-style limits are both ways of managing WIP and enabling a focus on finishing rather than starting to keep work flowing. Flow User Stories User Stories are a technique to break down functionality into small pieces of demonstrable functionality which can create single piece flow.the right things are being worked on and the right problems are being solved rather than “doing the wrong things righter”. Agile practices are WHAT teams do in order to enable them to realize their WHY. Lean and Agile How What WHAT is done proves what is believed. value and capability. It consists of tangible ways with which a WHY is realized and provides clear data points that actions are according to a WHY. . The following is one interpretation of some practices.
.Visualization Visualization approaches help teams see all the work so that they can focus their energy in the right places to keep flow. Automated Testing Acceptance Test Driven Development and Behavior Driven Development provide techniques for delivering value through quality and clarity of functionality. Test Driven Development Test Driven Development. keeps designs clean and quality high so that new work can progress quickly. Continuous Integration Continuous integration and deployment help works flow right through to the customer without lengthy release processes causing delays. or Product Owner roles are intended to maximize collaboration with people who are determining and receiving the value. Value Vertical Thinking Product Backlogs. Continuous Delivery Frequent and continuous delivery means that the value can be realized as soon as possible. User Stories. Minimal Marketable Features and other valuefocused forms of requirements are intended to help teams ensure they are delivering maximum benefit. Demos and Reviews Iteration demos and reviews are a means of gaining early and continuous feedback and validation that the product is delivering the intended value. the On-Site Customer. On-Site Customer Similarly. Co-location Strong teamwork and collaboration minimizes the need for queues and batches which cause delays. with its emphasis on automated unit testing and refactoring.
Demos and Reviews Regular demos and reviews provide a cadence with which feedback and learning can build product capability. Thomas Edison said that “vision without execution is hallucination” so don’t stop at WHY. Knowledge Sharing Various collaborative practices. shared and built upon to develop capability. Team Estimation and Planning Poker similarly share knowledge around a team. always “Start with WHY”. A clear WHY. cross-functional. Visualization Visualization of work. Collective Code Ownership. value focused teams mean that learning and knowledge is kept. Use the WHY as a True North with which to guide the Agile transformation and steer decisions on which Agile practices to use for what reasons. However. that people are motivated by. gives visibility of bottlenecks and constraints and other issues such that they can be resolved to improve capability. and spend time on other forms of capability development which will improve future productivity and performance. Group Design. Understand HOW agility is going to help progress towards the WHY and WHAT Agile practices will provide the means to get there. but make sure the Agile . Slack Slack ensures that teams have spare capacity to both address these issues. Conclusion When embarking on a change initiative using Agile approaches.Capability Teams Dedicated. Retrospectives Regular retrospectives provide a cadence with which feedback and learning can build team capability. such as Pair Programming. and the way value is created. will make it more likely that people will want to use Agile.
.HOW is also well known and the Agile practices that form the WHAT are clearly understood to ensure that the goal is successfully reached.
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