Tagged: lean

Skramjet – The Middle Path

Middle Pathདབུ་མའི་ལམ།

Before I get in to the guts of Skramjet, there was a final piece of philosophy that was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it until recently whilst watching a brilliant PBS program The Buddha. One of the interesting facts I didn’t realise was how The Middle Way or Path was come up with – it was when he was attaining enlightenment.

BuddhafastingAfter his initial life of total indulgence, then his Ascetic phase where he was almost dead (see right) that The Buddha realised that the way to enlightenment lay in between these two extremes:

 Neither a life of self- indulgence, nor one of self-mortification can bring happiness. Only a middle path, avoiding these two extremes, leads to peace of mind, wisdom, and complete liberation from the dissatisfactions of life

 An Agile Ascetic – well versed in Scrum, Kanban, TDD, BDD & NVC  ;-)


Most (if not all) agile processes, be they Lean, Scrum, Kanban or whatever assume usually quite a bit of discipline and adherenceto “the process” Don’t believe me? Try telling:

  • A Lean / 6 Sigma adherent you won’t Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control
  • A Scrum Master you’re not going to do the 3 questions or have a Product Owner
  • A Kanban Kraftsperson you’re not going to limit WIP

In most cases, good luck with that… Does it have to be that way?

What is The Middle Way?

When I did my first official SDLC process training with Rational Unified Process, the 1st rule was “use the process to configure the process”. Unfortunately, many “agile people” don’t do this! They use a Waterfall process to configure an agile process. This, I suspect, is a key contributor to why many Agile adoptions fail. One of the lessons I learnt early on, after my first successful Scrum failure was to let the process emerge. My 2nd attempt was a dream run as we started with sticky notes and tasks – that’s all! No people against tasks and no estimates. The interesting thing is that the team added these two features in the next two retrospectives, which just shows that is you have faith and give control over to others in the “right context”, there shall be rewards.

Skramjet – Setting the Stage

Skramjet StageSo far, I’ve only given you the 100,000ft view (as one would have with a Scramjet :)

A personal exploration of the use of Kanban, Scrum and Lean Principles to create a Service Oriented Architecture within a large organisation.

What does that really mean though? Why should you keep reading or even tell your friends? Like anything I do, this will be iterative, lean and hopefully have a good feedback cycle (it’s appreciated whenever you want as a comment here or tweet to me).

My immediate plans are that there will be two arcs:

  1. A personal narrative about Fellowship and hopefully some use of Antimatter in working with and transforming a team*
  2. Notes and guidelines around the use of lean/agile that I observe or think of along the journey

Anything could happen as I have no real plan for this except for the vision of a Skramjet

*Disclaimer: Any resemblance between the company, team and any people described in this narrative are purely co-incidental ;-)


skramjetWelcome to Skramjet

A scramjet (supersonic combusting ramjet) is a variant of a ramjet airbreathing jet engine in which combustion takes place in supersonic airflow.

A Skramjet (ScRuM, KAnban, lEan, Just in Time) is a process in which work takes place in a SuperPersonic flow state environment.

A personal exploration of the use of Kanban, Scrum and Lean Principles to create a Service Oriented Architecture within a large organisation.


Jennifer Sertl – Lean Impact

JenniferSertlLeanImpactJust saw this new list from JS and being and being very much in to Lean, had to curate this list…

  1. Escalator_Everyman_Pilgrim_1984-1Navigating Complexity
    @ogunte ♫
  2. Making the Most of Physical Flows in Connected World by @jhagel via @techonomy
  3. A dose of manufacturing creativity with @jonahlehrer
  4. Resources for keeping up with creativity & design via @Forbes
  5. Five Steps to Reaching Your Creative Destiny HT @yarrowkraner
  6. 10 Paradoxical Traits of Creative People via @faisal_hoque
  7. Designing the economy with principles of nature via @gideonro
  8. Designing A Smart City new model with @boydcohen & @manuchis
  9. From Ego System to Ecosystem by @ottoscharmer1
  10. The #Agile Path to Quality by @flowchainsensei +1 rich resources listed

Bonus: Design a thing by considering it in its next larger context a chair–> room –> house –> environment in a city plan ~ Eliel Saarinen

Should we B&B software development?

My last post on the topic (Let’s not Travelodge software development) may have seemed anti-Lean/Agile. It’s actually the opposite! It’s because I’m so passionate about them that I wrote that post to try and get people thinking where we are going with all this. I used Travelodge as an example of Lean / Agile taken too far, and as I’ve hinted, I see this in my work occasionally… So what’s the answer? Not surprisingly, Lean and Agile, but from a different view.

As I hinted in that post, personally I’ll be doing B&B’s again, and it’s the answer in so many ways. How? Do you like the B&B in the above photo? You should – it’s rated the number one in Horsham, only gets 5* feedback on TripAdvisor and costs about the same as that Travelodge I stayed in! It’s only a few minutes out of Horsham, but it would easily be worth a cab fare extra.

If you follow the analogy back to Software, I’m “The Business”. I have a need, accommodation that I need to solve at a reasonable price. Given a choice in what seems to me an unknown field, I go with a brand but am disappointed as I find a product which has been BadAgiled out of existence to the “threshold of revolution” – i.e. it’s quality is just good enough to stop me cancelling the contract (hey – my ego’s at stake here).

This is where “The Real Business” and I split. I know I made a mistake and am not afraid to publicly talk about it, acknowledge it and learn from it. TRB though have a (probably quite large group) ego though, so they can’t admit that they were wrong – there’s so much at stake on the table… So, they do what Einstein defined as insanity – the same thing, expecting a different result. Sometimes they’ll try a different outsourcer to give the illusion of action, but they’ll still have the same process and flawed thinking in place so I don’t need to explain what will happen.

Back to our B&B’s – good one’s are mostly quite Lean and Agile, for the simple reason that they directly relate to the owners income, and that the owners generally want a reasonable lifestyle, which means not spending too much time running the B&B.

Enter a Lean / Agile process!

If you watch the way a good B&B works, they have developed their own systems, limit WIP (especially for breakfast), have good feedback loops and quite often have Information Radiators. Their processes are tailored for their establishment and aligned to their personal brand. Looking at the bedroom shot, you can see that the owner, house and brand are all aligned – it’s the truth.

Now, let’s remind ourselves of the TL equivalent. Is there any comparison? @JenniferSertl made a very good point regarding branding and process, namely that Bic and Mont Blanc could both use Agile / Lean successfully with their own brands, which is correct.

However, if we look at part of Travelodge’s Mission statement:

The reason that more people don’t stay in hotels is simple
– they just can’t find a good quality hotel where they want to
stay, at a price that’s right for them.

Travelodge’s objective is to make hotels available to everyone
by consistently offering our customers great value hotels where
they want to stay.

So to follow up the second paragraph, to me (totally subjective) that hotel was not great value. To be great value, would of been £40-50 and I’m sure they still could of made a profit. Given what you know now though about B&B’s in Horsham, would you really want to stay there?
NOTE: One thing I should note is that the staff at the Travelodge were very helpful and positive and really turned what could of been a horrible stay in to a tolerable one – that wasn’t due to them though, it was due to poorly gathered requirements, using a bad process to transform them in to a bad “architecture”, carefully nurtured by a total lack of feedback from staff and probably guests to form a distorted implementation of their brand. Sound familiar? ;-)

Finally, to answer Jennifer’s point re pens – I don’t have a problem with Bic making pens using Lean / Agile or any other process. What I do have a problem with is Parker making them L/A and allowing(?) the mechanism to distort their quality to those of Bic or even worse!