Agile Mentors Podcast

Agile Mentors Podcast

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The Agile Mentors podcast is for agilists of all levels. Whether you’re new to agile and Scrum or have years of experience, listen in to find answers to your questions and new ways to succeed with agile.

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#47: Exploring Lean Thinking in Agile Development with Bob Payne

May 10, 2023     37 minutes

Join Brian and his guest Bob Payne as they discuss the principles of lean thinking and how they apply to Agile methodologies.


In this episode of the “Agile Mentors” Podcast, Brian sits down with Bob Payne to discuss the intersection of Agile and lean thinking. As an experienced Agile coach and host of the “Agile Toolkit Podcast,” Bob shares his insights and offers practical tips for implementing lean thinking in your own team.

Listen in as they explore the fundamental principles of lean thinking in Agile methodologies. They discuss managing flow, not workers, and the importance of continuous improvement and experimentation to achieve sustainable, high-quality results in your organization and success in today's fast-paced business environment.

Listen Now to Discover:

[01:23] - Brian welcomes Bob Payne, the Senior Vice President of Training and Coaching at Lithespeed, as well as the host of the “Agile Toolkit Podcast” and the Chairman of the Agile DC Conference. Bob is here to discuss lean systems and lean thinking.
[03:57] - Bob explains how lean thinking is connected to Agile methods in knowledge work.
[07:30] - Agile methods generate value through teamwork that ultimately ends up in the customer's hands, and lean thinking is the larger circle that encompasses these methods.
[08:24] - Lean thinking involves discipline and continuous improvement, which are essential characteristics for any successful team.
[10:30] - Lean thinking also considers the sustainability of the workforce—workers are seen as producing value, while management is there to create the system that makes them the most effective.
[11:31] - Lean thinking provides inspiration for visual management systems (such as Kanban boards) to track work which is incredibly powerful (and were not invented by Agile methods).
[11:47] - Lean didn't just appear out of thin air; it built off of multiple things.
[12:17] - Lean principles are foundational, and empiricism is built into lean.
[14:34] - Bob shares that visualizing work is crucial to managing it effectively and citing the example of Toyota's electronic boards.
[15:52] - Managing the flow of work, not the workers. We aim for cross-functional, self-organizing teams in an Agile team to get the job done.
[17:05] - Bob shares an analogy about the workflow in a coffee shop.
[17:41] - Bob shares the lean thinking philosophy and discusses the use of on-demand planning and continuous improvement.
[19:14] - Brian introduces the sponsor for the podcast, Mountain Goat Software, which offers various training options for Agile methodologies. You can find their training schedule here.
[19:46] - The difference between fixing the system and fixing the people in terms of leadership— Brian highlights the importance of a holistic view of the organizational structure to support the work and the workers in lean thinking.
[20:36] - Brian shares the importance of limiting work in process within Scrum. He shares his experiences with XP teams and emphasizes the need to identify blockages and fix the source, not (just) the symptom.
[23:03] - Bob and Brian discuss how Agile methods often miss local optimization, focusing on fixing bottlenecks instead of making other parts of the process more efficient.
[25:23] - Bob shares how the focus on DevOps and better tooling has enabled Agile teams to go faster while maintaining safety (and avoiding burnout).
[26:30] - Bob shares a talk called "Project to Product: Practical Realities at Large Scale Enterprises,” Kevin Fisher gave at a DevOps conference about an end-to-end value stream analysis.
[27:40] - Bob discusses the need for a shift towards prioritizing rapid building and getting products to market, as Jeff Patton and Marty Cagan advocate.
[28:37] - Bottlenecks? What the Scrum Master should focus on.
[29:27] -Understanding the theory and philosophy behind Agile rather than just focusing on the practices is important. Brian shares why he believes it's crucial to recognize that the system needs to be fixed, not the worker.
[30:49] - Understanding the theory and philosophy behind Agile methodologies rather than just focusing on the practices for more successful teams is essential.
[31:18] - Bob talks about how teams should experiment with different ways of doing things and shares the early Agilists were making stuff up and pulling together ideas that worked. He spends the first hour and a half of his classes talking about the history and mindset of Agile and lays out these principles with case studies.
[35:24] - Check out Bob Payne’s work on his podcast, “Agile Toolkit Podcast,” and at Lithespeed.
[36:08] - Join the Agile Mentors Community to continue the discussion. If you have topics for future episodes, email us by clicking here. And don’t forget to subscribe to the “Agile Mentors” Podcast on Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode.

References and resources mentioned in the show:

"Agile Toolkit Podcast”
Agile DC Conference
Project to Product: Practical Realities at Large Scale Enterprises
Mountain Goat Software's Advanced Certified Product Owner course
Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule
Join the Agile Mentors Community
Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts

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This episode’s presenters are:

Brian Milner is SVP of coaching and training at Mountain Goat Software. He's passionate about making a difference in people's day-to-day work, influenced by his own experience of transitioning to Scrum and seeing improvements in work/life balance, honesty, respect, and the quality of work.

Bob Payne is an industry-leading Lean+Agile Transformation leader with over 20 years of experience. He is the SVP of Enterprise Transformation at Lithespeed, the host of the “Agile Toolkit Podcast," and the Chair of the Agile DC Conference. With a wealth of practical experience, Bob has been a trusted advisor to executives, teams, and management at leading firms such as Walmart, National Geographic, and Samsung.