Tag Archives: Agile Enterprise

Testimonial Time: “Agile and I Know It!”

When I walk to the standup (yeah), this is what I see (ok)
Everybody stops and they staring at me
I got passion in my veins and I ain’t afraid to show it, show it, show it, show it

I’m Agile and I know it
I’m Agile and I know it

[Adapted from LMFAO “Sexy And I Know It”]

Remember how I told you about our Agile Enterprise efforts back in May?  Well, since then Agile has been spreading like a plague all over the enterprise.  I’ve compiled for you a collection of testimonials, if you will, from across the enterprise.  Keep in mind that none of these testimonials come from within IT where we first started Agile in October 2011.  These are all business-side folks beginning to apply Agile values, principles, and practices within their work lives and in some cases beyond.

 Our Strategic Partnerships team …

“Our team started with a Kanban  board and has progressed to Target Process for our pilot and syndication projects. Sydney also uses a personal Kanban board. We have  utilized the principles for other projects. For example Killian used a Kanban board for multiple teams to use to plan the Keep It Weird workshops for Coupon U.  Also the Diversity & Inclusion council has adopted the electronic version to keep track of committee projects.”

Our Marketing Research team …

“From Marketing Research, which includes the combined teams of the Category Research Center (CRC), GIS, List Data Services and Research Services:

  • Each team has a huddle daily or bi-weekly  to review roles/responsibilities for current and upcoming work efforts.
  • Three out of four teams have a  board that outlines current/upcoming projects and who has been assigned that they review during their huddle and update as needed throughout the week.”

Our Security team …

“Not only have we used the Kanban Boards as a way to give the Record Coordinators a way to organize and track their department’s progress during the Records & Information Management project, but we also created a spreadsheet that contains the same 8 steps, which tracks the overall project by department.  It is our Kanban Project Board.  This has made understanding next steps, next departments to start and overall project progress very easy… The Kanban boards, while a simple tool, are very visual and really do help track the progress of tasks and projects.

… I will admit that I shared this outside the company also.  I am the President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Safety Council, and in a recent meeting with their Executive Director, I recommended they use Kanban boards for tracking the status of their strategic plans and all of its associated tasks.  Once I explained to her how this worked, she was very interested and we both felt this would improve engagement and awareness for her entire team.  It provides high visibility and can be used in conjunction with their regular update meetings provided by the various teams (similar to Scrum teams), which would be held at the Kanban Board.  Taking it to the community!”

Our National Sales team …

“The Sales Support Team gathers at the What’s Happening Right Now Kanban Board each day at 9:15 to discuss what is being worked on that day, and any impediments that may be slowing up progress.  Each Account Manager has been assigned a different color card. Each card represents a campaign that is being worked on.  Cards detail Client Name, Campaign Dates, Elements of the Campaign as well as Vertical.  Cards move horizontally across the board via the following lanes : Pre-campaign Activities, Contracting, Ready to Mail (or Deploy), Mailing/Deployed, and Post-Sale/Historical Reporting.

The team has been using the board since the beginning of June, and it has helped to open up the lines of communication not only between individuals on the team, but with others not on the team, but who may be wondering what the status of a current job may be.”

Our Manufacturing organization …

“The Operational Analyst team at the Valpak Manufacturing Center is using a Kanban board to prioritize, track and manage workload. We set the board up after collaborating with Cara on best practices and used some of her suggestions and made other enhancements specific to what we wanted. We used to use a list of tasks that needed to be done and would review it each month for progress. Progress was slow on some tasks and other items came up over the course of a month that were started and completed with very little planning. Once we completed the Kanban board and backlog cards, even using some volunteer kids from Take Your Son/Daughter To Work Day to help out, we had to analyze all the tasks on the backlog and prioritize them. The board made it easy to see the interaction between some of the tasks and dictated which ones rose to the top of the list. We’ve been using it for 4 months now and have found that is it helping the team stay focused on a few, important tasks at one time that get driven to completion faster than in the past. We still have items that come up unexpectedly, but now expedite those on the Kanban board for better tracking. Overall the Kanban board approach has worked well for our team giving visibility of the work coming up to the team and anyone else who wants to see it.”

“… the Collation team, as you mentioned, has switched to the Kanban for their CPI team which is on 2nd shift.  The 1st introduced it and then transferred it to them. In addition, the folding project that is underway is utilizing the Kanban (electronic) method also.  It is going well and they have adapted it to fit their needs.  Additional discussion are taking place on how other families may be able to incorporate it in their CPI teams.”

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Ingrained Simplicity: From the Trenches

Once again, guest blogger, Toby Morris, has a “from the trenches” perspective to share.  Toby, known around these parts as “The Amazing Toby”, is a software developer at Valpak.  Toby has been with Valpak for many years and has had the opportunity to experience our Agile transformation from the trenches, as the title of this post suggests.  Today, he has some interesting insights on what he observed in our Agile Enterprise Workshops.  Enjoy!

One of the goals of any organization adopting Agile processes is to reach the level of maturity where Agile is culturalized. Where it becomes second nature. You’re involuntarily looking for ways to maximize the amount of work not done. And it’s really exciting when you see first hand just how much your Agile adoption has matured over the years.

Our IT department began the Agile transformation more than two years ago. We are now working on an effort to expand the Agile process to the entire enterprise. Today, we held the last of our  Agile Enterprise Workshops. These workshops are a way of introducing Agile to departments that have not already adopted Agile. We included established scrum teams in these workshops to act as “agile buddies”. Folks who’ve been through the transformation who can be there for moral support to help the new folks get through the trying times.

In today’s workshop, nine members of IT Agile scum teams joined ten non-Agile workers. Part of the workshop was a quick example of lean. The ball circle exercise. For the exercise, everyone got into a big circle and a tennis ball was handed to one person. The one person was to start the exercise and be the end of the exercise. They were to pass the ball to one person, any person, in the circle. That person would then pass the ball to another person, and so on, until everyone had touched the ball once, and the ball ended back with the starter. It took fifty-four seconds on our first attempt, with four dropped balls. Not a stellar performance.

For the next step, we had to repeat the exercise, passing the ball in the same order we did previously, but we rearranged the room so that passer and passee were standing in the passing order. Whoever passed you the ball stood to your left and whoever you passed the ball to stood to your right. We then simply handed the ball from one person to the next and cut our time down to ten seconds with no dropped balls.

The interesting thing about this was how the ball was passed in the first attempt. EVERY agile worker passed the ball directly to the person to their right., unless that person had already touched the ball and was no longer eligible. EVERY non-agile worker tossed the ball across the circle to someone opposite them. Passing the ball to the nearest person was quicker and more accurate. It was simpler. It was lazier. And we didn’t even have to think about it.

So after more than two years of Agile, it appears we’ve been culturalized. At least by this completely non-scientific, anecdotal evidence. I would really like to see what would happen if we tried this exercise with nothing but Agile workers. To see if we’ve all come to completely internalize the simplicity we try to achieve.


Agile Enterprise or Bust!

In early May, Valpak’s internal newsletter, Monday Memo, published the following headline and article:

Valpak on its way to becoming an Agile enterprise

Agile workshops have begun and many teams are now using some of their newly learned techniques to help them manage their work. Agile organizations are fast moving, flexible and capable of rapid response to unexpected challenges, events and opportunities to achieve a continuous competitive advantage in serving customers.

Many of the principles of Agile focus on the idea of breaking work into smaller chunks and working on them in a self-organizing team with daily collaboration.

“With all the projects my team and I are faced with this year, we found the Agile approach to managing these projects extremely helpful for efficient planning and tracking our progress along the way,” said George McCarthy (Security & Safety Director) after his team’s recent Agile session.

That’s right! … we are well on our way towards our Agile Enterprise vision.  To date, we have trained about 80% of our knowledge workers (our manufacturing workers apply Lean to produce our famous Blue Envelope).  We have trained Marketing, Finance, Security, Franchise Sales, Infrastructure, BI, Digital Business Development, and more.  In fact, we refreshed training for the software development teams that have been Agile for over 2 years now by including them as resident experts with the other business areas trained.  Oh, and by “we”, I mean Tami Orr, our super awesome Employee Development Process Lead.  This wouldn’t be possible without her.  She self-taught Agile, Scrum, and Kanban and put together a fun and effective training program, not to mention the hours she stands in front of our folks to deliver the training.

I’m sure some of you are wondering about the training program we, I mean Tami, developed for our Agile Enterprise efforts.  While I can’t publish the deck, I can provide an outline of what was covered:

  • What is Agile?
  • The benefits of Agile
  • The Agile Manifesto
    • Brief history
    • The 4 Agile values
    • A deep dive into the 12 Agile principles (some with fun videos and activities to demonstrate)
  • Some Tools & Techniques of Agile
    • Scrum Overview
    • Kanban Overview
    • Kanban activity using a party planning scenario (something we can all identify with)
    • Kanban activity using a project specific to the department being trained
  • Agile in life (not just about work anymore)

“But wait, there’s more!”… Agile is not some “Set it, and forget it!” rotisserie.  This is a never-ending journey.  The Agile Enterprise is a major culture shift for any organization that must be nurtured each and every day, across all departments, and at all levels of the organization.  For us, change is in bloom!  Agile has become so much bigger than ME and I love it!  Business teams are adopting stand-ups over lengthy status meetings.  Rogue Kanbans are popping up left and right for everything from projects to be lead, department workflow to be managed, or even events to be coordinated.  In fact, we had a retirement party just yesterday for a 20 year employee whose wife (who also happens to work for the company) made him a Vision Board and a Kanban board (yes, that’s right … a Kanban Board) so that he could better “manage” his retirement.  Even better, we are having open discussions and healthy debate on topics like value, sustainable pace, empowerment, and simplicity.  I love this new Valpak!

 


Free Kanbans For Everyone!

In my role, I have the pleasure of getting to drive our Agile Enterprise efforts here at Valpak.  We are two years into our Agile transformation within IT and are now broadening our reach to the rest of the company.  We are beginning a never-ending journey to become an Agile Enterprise!  With that in mind, I’m working with our VP of HR and our training development team on an Agile Enterprise training event that will be rolled out to each and every department across the company. The intent of the training event is to educate everyone on the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto and to help them to relate Agile to their everyday lives, work and home.  Included in that training will be how Scrum and Kanban (and even Scrumban) are good techniques to help them along in their Agile journey.  But Kanban is certain to be a big hit.  Already, we’ve got Kanbans popping up left and right from some grassroots efforts underway.  We’ve got Kanbans for personal use, Kanbans for managing projects, Kanbans for structuring programs, Kanbans for process improvements, Kanbans for portfolio management, and Kanbans for organizing the work of a department.  Kanbans are so fun and easy to set up I say “Free Kanbans for everyone!”   I even joke … but, I’m totally serious … I have a home improvement Kanban.  It’s great for explaining how Kanban works.  My only issue is that nothing ever moves out of the backlog. 😦 Damn, I need some new gutters.  Anyhow, I’ve also helped a startup or two establish Kanbans to manage their work … that’s right, lean startup indeed! I’ve also heard of chore board Kanbans.

So, I ask you all … What are some of the crazy, awesome, and interesting Kanbans you’ve seen along the way? Please do share!

My thought is that if everyone with a list would just do a personal Kanban, what an Agile world it would be.  I guess this is a good time to plug an upcoming meetup on the topic of Personal Kanban too:  http://www.meetup.com/tampa-bay-agile/events/169574022/

Free Kanbans for everyone!