1st Edition

A Tale of Two Transformations Bringing Lean and Agile Software Development to Life

By Michael K. Levine Copyright 2012
    323 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    There are many books that seek to explain Lean and Agile software that offer theory, techniques, and examples. Michael Levine’s first book, A Tale of Two Systems, is one of the best, synthesizing Lean manufacturing and product development with agile software concepts in an engaging business novel. However, there has been precious little practical guidance for those seeking to change existing organizations to become Lean and Agile, until now. Mr. Levine has followed the successful approach of A Tale of Two Systems, telling two simultaneous intertwined and contrasting stories, to bring organizational transformation to life. 

    Mary O’Connell and James "Wes" Wesleyan, recently engaged to be married, share a commitment to Lean and Agile Software. They have recently become leaders in two very different companies – one, stuck in a slow-moving, unresponsive, process-driven quagmire of a software culture; the other, struggling through the chaos of a sales-driven, process-less swirl. Together with their wise mentor, Neville Roberts, they identify two approaches to making needed changes: Drive People (a top-down approach focused on processes and tools), and People Driven (an enablement approach focused on people and organizations). Mary and Wes evaluate their situations and choose approaches that best fit for them, and the transformations commence. 

    A Tale of Two Transformations differs from many information technology books by grappling with all the complexities of our organizations: the people, the politics, the financials, the processes – in short, the culture from which our Lean and Agile journeys must begin. The change model presented in the flow of the stories is generally applicable, and can help anyone thinking about how to improve their organization. 


    Wes’s Challenge at MCCA: February
    Narrator: Wes
    MCCA’s Past (in Microfilm) versus Its Future (in Information Management)
    MCCA’s Transformation Goal: Fix Operations and Build New Technology Products
    Wes’s New Role: New Product Development, Including Technology
    Wes’s New Organization and People

    Mary’s Challenge at FinServia: February
    Narrator: Mary
    FinServia’s Troubles: Glacial, Unresponsive Product Development
    FinServia’s Transformation Goal: Faster and Cheaper

    Setting Initial Approaches for Both Companies: February
    Narrator: Wes
    Building a Lean and Agile Change Model
    Comparing the Two Opportunities, and Selecting an Approach
    Wes and Mary Make Their Initial Plans


    Getting to Know the MCCA Team and Culture: March
    Narrator: Wes
    Meeting My Development Team
    Transforming Operations, Including the Relationship with Sales
    Wes Visits San Diego National Insurance
    Preparing to Meet SDNI
    Listening for Customer Value
    Understanding the Customer’s Needs

    Reorienting FinServia’s Relationship with GRI: March
    Narrator: Mary
    GRI’s Death Grip on Finservia’s Technology
    Meeting with GRI: Being Clear about What FinServia Needs
    GRI Goals and the Win–Win

    Solving the Chief Engineer Puzzle at MCCA: March
    Narrator: Wes
    Finding a Project Manager to Handle Part of the Chief Engineer Role
    Finding a Product Manager to Handle Part of the Chief Engineer Role
    Exploring Alternative Development Models: Powerful Individual Chief Engineers versus Development Teams of Peers


    Six Weeks to Change the FinServia Organization: April
    Narrator: Mary
    Early Week One: Planning the FinServia Development Organization
    Option 1: A Functional Organization
    Option 2: A Divisional Organization
    Option 3: A Matrix Organization
    Option 4: Chief Engineers with Shared Support
    Later in Week One: Planning the Transition with GRI
    Week Four: Selecting the People
    Week Six: Announcement Day

    Six Weeks to Start the MCCA Transformation: May
    Narrator: Wes
    Week One: Preparing for the Management Scrum
    Week Two: Assembling and Training the Team
         The Team Assembles: Overview Training
         MCCA Value Defined by Owners, Customers
         Lean Product Development Introduced
         Agile Software Development: An Implementation of Lean Product Development
         Agile Introduced
         Scrum Explained
         Next Steps
    Week Four: Creating the Management Backlog and the Release Plan
    Week Six: Lean Team Scrum Meeting


    Making Delivery Commitments at FinServiea: May
    Narrator: Mary
    The Classic Struggle: Setting Dates and Costs
    The Date/Cost Commitment Struggle at FinServia
    Configuring Agile Releases: Distributing to and Managing Multiple Backlogs

    MCCA Engages with Its Sales Force and Customers at DocWorld: Late July
    Narrator: Wes
    Wes’s Six-Month Retrospective
    User Conference Preparation: The Product Roadmap and Customer Engagement Planning
    Connie and Wes Agree on Sales Guidance
    Partnering with Customers and Prospects: Demos and Backlogs

    Sprint 1 Demo at FinServia—Dealing with Disappointment: July
    Narrator: Mary
    Mary’s Six-Month Retrospective
    Tools Can Help, Tools Can Hurt
    Results of Sprint 1 Disappointing: The Sprint Demo
         Discord during the Sprint
    Ready or Not, Sprint and Demo
         Reviewing the Plan for Sprint 1
         (Lack of) Accomplishments of Sprint 1
         Code Demo for Sprint 1
    Sprint 1 Retrospective
         Margaret Plans and Facilitates the Retrospective

    Jack’s Gambit at MCCA
    Narrator: Wes
    Phillip Spills the Beans
    Getting Advice from Connie
    Jack’s Proposal
    Mary and Wes Consider Lynn’s Options
    Lynn Hollander Makes Her Choice


    Sustaining Lean and Agile: December
    Narrator: Wes
    Comparing the MCCA and FinServia Experiences
    Sustaining a Lean and Agile Software Culture
         Building Towering Technical Competence
         Building and Sustaining Cultural Values
    Strategic Planning and Study
         Customer-Focused, Hands-On Leaders
         Lightweight Processes


    Transforming to Become Lean and Agile
    Summary of the People Driven Approach
    Summary of the Drive People Approach
    Vision and Leadership
         Set a Simple and Compelling Vision
         Build a Supporting Coalition
         Make a Plan, Specific to Your Reality
         Use Integrating Events
         Accelerate Delivery
         Find Outside Wisdom
         Encourage Engagement and Debate, within Limits
         Understand Your Boundaries
         It’s (Almost) Always about the Money
         Give Existing Leaders a Chance
         Let Obstructionists Continue Their Careers Elsewhere
         Stir Up the Pot by Adding Some New Blood
         Get Them to Do It Themselves
         Build Chief Engineers, but Adapt to the Situation at Hand
         Teach to Lead, and Lead by Teaching
         Spreading Knowledge—Institutionalize Knowledge and Learning
         "You Go to War with the Army You Have"2 or Build Your Capability before You Build Your Software
         Customer Focus
         Demolish the Barriers: We Are All "The Business"
         Small Intact Teams
         Process Can Drive Lean/Agile Change, but It’s Not Enough by Itself
         Start Slow and Simple
         PDCA Yourself!
         Methods—Don’t Overprescribe
         But Do Insist on Some Basic Practices
         Tools Can Help, but Be Careful!
         Vendor Partnerships
    Final Words




    Michael K. Levine has led a 26-year career primarily focused on how to profit through the application of information technology. He was educated in international relations and economics at Carleton College and Princeton University and began his career in international trade negotiation in Washington, D.C. He moved on to commercial lending and financial product management at First Bank System in Minneapolis. In each of his early jobs, he saw the promise of applying information technology to solve business problems; eventually, he moved his career more formally in that direction by joining Norwest Corporation as strategic technology planner and large-scale software project manager.

    Michael continued his immersion in technology leadership when he became chief technology officer of Moore Data/Vista Information Solutions, a leading provider of information technology solutions to the real estate field. For the last 6 years, Michael has been at Wells FargoHome Mortgage, leading Operations and Technology Groups. One of the constant elements in Michael’s work has been the innovative, business-driven application of information technology. The accomplishments of his teams range from the first system to calculate duties on unfair trade, to cross-business line customer information systems in two large banks, to an early Internet-based real estate search engine, to an image-based, straight-through/exception-based loan processing system.

    His continuing search for better ways to build complex business software drew him to the operations and product development approaches coming out of Toyota (Lean) and the Agile software development movement. Michael and his teams have used many of the Lean and Agile approaches over the last several years. This practical application experience, in addition to his extensive, successful career at the junction of business operations and software technology, gives Michael a unique, practical perspective on how business leaders can improve their results through better technology leadership.

    The story-telling approach, with a summary of the lessons and insights at the end of each chapter, is an engaging way to learn…. My hat is off to Mr. Levine for writing a book that both entertains and teaches. Not an easy task, but masterfully done in this case. 
    —John G. Schmidt, Vice President for Enterprise Initiatives, Informatica & author of Lean Integration

    Finally! A book about Lean and Agile software development for the executives who want to make the transition - from someone who has been there … deals with a broad array of leadership problems, from discovering chief engineers, to dealing with demanding sales managers to pulling back from outsourcing.
    — Mary Poppendieck, Author of Lean Software Development, Implementing Lean Software Development, and Leading Lean Software Development