Friday, April 10, 2009
Scrum and the A3 Process: Game Over for Waterfall Companies
The best teams I work with are using lean tools to identify waste, particularly value stream mapping. They then use Scrum to eliminate waste by working the Scrum impediments list. This has the benefit of pushing Scrum out of development into the rest of the organization as they see how they contribute to waste (or they feel so much pressure from development velocity they have to change).
This week I spent several days with the second company in the world that is implementing Scrum everywhere. It starts with the Senior Management Scrum Board in the CEO's office and translates into every department in the organization. The last company that did this immediately generated a hockey stick in their revenue curve, acquired two companies and went public in less than a year. We are eager to see what happens with this company.
As we have focused on surfacing waste and clarifying the ScrumMasters impediment lists, we find that ScrumMasters need better tools to eliminate impediments. They need a plan the whole company can understand and support. Using the A3 Process developed at Toyota we find that it gives ScrumMasters a powerful tool that they need to eliminate impediments.
Google on A3 Process and you will get hundreds of links and dozens of books, so this is a huge resource available to ScrumMasters everywhere.
A key component of the single sheet A3 paper which documents the problem, context, root cause, proposed solution, next steps, and issue is the 5 Whys. For every problem ask why, they ask why to the answer. Do this five times and you will get down to the root of the issue which is often surprising to management and developers alike. See:
Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System
These aggressive strategies will turn a Scrum company into a Toyota that will crush a waterfall company like GM. We are beginning to see an acceleration of waterfall software companies going out of business in some parts of the world because they are either unable or unwilling to change.