This is the first time I do a review on a book written in Swedish, my native language. I realize that many of you will never get a opportunity to read the book, but according to my blog statistics Sweden is in third place when it comes to visitors (after USA and UK). The book is ”Tillsammans” (”Together”) with the sub title ”Så skapar du flyt och egenmakt med agile och lean” written by Peter Antman (@peterantman on Twitter).
According to the table of content the book has three main parts/chapters and they are:
- ”Flyt och kunskap med agile och lean” (”Flow and knowledge with agile and lean”)
- ”Team – en agile organism” (”Team – an agile organism”)
- ”När chefen inte längre leder och fördelar arbetet” (”When the manager is no longer acting in ’command & control’-mode”)
For all of you to understand I will stick to English from now on (i.e., I’ve done my own translation from Swedish to English, any mistakes during that process is mine only). Instead of a formal review that I usually do, I will give you five short stories/lists that are presented in the book. I hope you enjoy them.
This history from the 1980s tells that the management at Matsushita (now Panasonic, a Japanese multinational electronics corporation – my comment) had formulated an idea of a kitchen appliance that could bake bread. The vision was that you should be able to get up in the morning and smell fresh bread without too much work. The engineers were not able to complete the bread maker, no matter how much work they put in. The bread never turned out good enough. Finally someone asked: ”Can we actually bake bread?”. The engineers had to leave the drawing board and go to practice at the best bakery in Tokyo. When they returned, they rather quickly solved the problems and got the bread maker to work.
My comment: This story tells me that you really need to know your product, and of course the customers that shall use it.
The broken window theory was introduced in 1982 by two social scientists. Most of us are familiar with it: Someone breaks a window. If it’s quickly fixed, broken windows will happen but it is not the normal state. But if it’s not fixed? Then people stop caring and persons that normally behave is more likely to also smash a window.
My comment: What can we learn from this? My takeaway is that we alway should strive for highest quality. That we have 100% pass on our tests. If it drops lower, even with ”known errors”, we start to care less.
During several years the metaphor ”go green” was very important for Peter Antman’s working life. Put in context it was filled with purpose; focus on quality, tests, visual feedback and hard work. In the working group the metaphor became part of their culture, and affected their mental picture of the reality and their acting within it.
My comment: ”Go green” relates back to the previous story, where ”green” means pass on all tests. ”Green” shall be the normal state. If an error is introduced, i.e., the tests will go ”red”, it shall be fixed as soon as possible to go back to the normal ”green” state. Hard work is required to get this up and running, so it has to be in the mindset of the teams.
”Grow an agile culture – With phrases”
For Peter Antman and his teams the essence of scrum, agile and lean could be expressed in a few key phrases, they were:
- Last responsible moment
- Adapt to capacity
- Cult of quality
- Art of the possible
- Always releasable
- Inspect & Adapt
- Take it to the team.
My comment: All things on the list above is explained in more detail in the book.
The last list from the book that I would like to share with you holds the foundation of agile thinking, with respect for human beings and our capability to do good work when we are not limited by things out of our control. We emphasize:
- Self-organizing teams are our lowest organizational unit.
- People are driven by intrinsic motivation and we need to let it free.
- We focus on value and to only do things when they are needed.
- It’s pointless to have detailed long term plans since the reality will always change.
- We have short feedback loops since we constantly need to learn new things.
- It’s the system we change when we try to correct things that are not working.
My comment: I can only agree with this list!
I can recommend this book if you want to read about Lean & Agile in the Swedish language. There’s not so many books available about that in Swedish, hopefully this one can increase the understanding beyond the IT department in companies throughout Sweden and the other Nordic countries.
All the best,
Tomas from TheAgileist