Life does not stand still Work does not stand still

Why should our processes be cast in stone?

Beyond Agile co-author Maritza van den Heuvel is my guest next week on the Business901 podcast. She is the author of the Becoming an Agile Family blog where she writes about the ways her family uses Personal Kanban to navigate work and life. You can also find Maritza on Twitter (@maritzavdh). Beyond Agile other authors were Jim Benson and Joanne Ho. It is the latest publication of Modus Cooperandi. Maritiza also appeared in another Business901 Podcast,  Becoming an Agile Family thru Kanban.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: They are real life stories, of course, but you even listed a failure in the book. Which I thought, now that’s someone that has a lot of confidence and faith in their process.

Beyond AgileMaritza: I will admit that particular story you refer to was one we had some angst about because it is difficult for people to write about failure. We thought it was really important to do that because learning from failure is a key component to Kanban and Lean and the feedback loops that we strongly believe in as Agile thinkers. How could we not show a failure in some way?

Joe: I wanted to commend you. In fact, it was the first story I read.

Maritza: I think there’s also bravery on the part of contributors to that specific story. Ultimately it is their company that we write about. It is their story that we’re telling, and I think they were extremely brave to allow us to write that story in the way that we did because we did quite exclusively write about some of the things that we think went wrong, but I think the key win here for everybody, the team and the company concerned was from that failure in arose a new company and lessons learned and all of that perceived failure was actually rich learning that helped them to do it better the next time.

Joe: I remember talking to someone when I was down on a business that I had started years back, and he said, “Is this your first business?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “You always fail at your first business.” Kind of renewed my confidence that it was OK. It’s a learning process. It’s a journey. You don’t have to stop. You learn and you move forward.

Maritza: I think that is such a key component of what we try to express in the book. We specifically wanted to include the phrase “continuous improvement” in the title, and you’ll read it throughout the book in various contexts, but it’s inherent in each and every one of those stories that nobody gets it right the first time. You define a process. You pick certain methodologies and techniques and you implement them, you observe them, and you adapt as needed and to continually improve what you’re doing. Life doesn’t stand still. Work doesn’t stand still. Why should our processes be cast in stone?

About Beyond Agile: Tales of Continuous Improvement: Beyond Agile examines 10 companies, mostly in the tech world, but also in innovative automotive and business consulting, that have actively evolved their processes. Using tools from Lean, Agile and other schools of management thought, these companies have actively engaged in continuous improvement.

About Maritza van den Heuvel: Maritza spent six years doing research in computational linguistics after completing a Postgraduate degree in Linguistics. She eventually left academia for the software industry where she cut her teeth on Agile and Scrum as a Scrum Master and Product Owner, helping teams to evolve from waterfall to Scrum. Along the way, her unquenchable thirst for knowledge led her to Kanban and Lean systems thinking. Since then, she has become a passionate proponent of the power of constraints and visual controls to transform the world of work in the 21st century. She is currently with Pearson Southern Africa, where she’s applying her background to leading innovation in technology-enabled education.

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