A Tale of Two Transformations : Bringing Lean and Agile Software Development to Life book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9781439879757
Published December 5, 2011 by Productivity Press
323 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $54.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

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. 

Table of Contents


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



View More



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