Category Archives: Lean Government

Using Kerika to achieve Lean Government.

Kanban vs Scrum: what’s the difference, and which should you use?

We have a complete (one-hour long) video of the tutorial presented by Arun Kumar, CEO of Kerika, at the recent Lean Transformation Conference on the subject of Kanban vs Scrum: what’s the difference, and which should you use?

(The slides for this talk, and more, can be found on Slideshare.)

Topics covered:

Forming a team 00:01:32

The Product Owner 00:02:01

The Scrum Master 00:02:55

The Scrum Team 00:03:55

Pulling Work 00:04:04

The Product Backlog 00:05:45

Scrum Stories 00:06:25

Writing a good Story 00:07:35

From Epics to Stories 00:10:25

From Stories to Tasks 00:11:13

Estimating with Story Points 00:13:04

Organizing a Sprint 00:15:00

How long is a Sprint? 00:19:15

Sprints in theory 00:20:32

Sprints in real-life 00:20:53

Daily Standups 00:23:25

Burndown Charts 00:24:13

Team Velocity 00:25:35

Best Practices for Getting Scrum Right 00:28:00

The Nuclear Option 00:30:57

Where does Scrum work best? 00:32:02

Scrum in Government 00:33:25

Where does Kanban work best? 00:35:43

Collaboration Networks 00:37:25

Paper doesn’t scale 00:38:30

Using Kerika for Personal Kanban 00:39:50

Using Kerika for Team Kanban 00:40:24

Using Kerika in the Public Sector 00:40:37

Using Kerika for Scrum Projects 00:40:54

Capturing stories as “virtual sticky notes” 00:41:20

Summary 00:42:57

Question: how do you deal with poor performers on the team? 00:49:15

Question: in Scrum, are units of measure like lines of code still applicable? 00:50:08

Question: how do you measure individual performance? 00:51:03

Question: how do you handle poor performers within a team? 00:52:25

Question: when do you use the Nuclear Option? 00:54:20

Question: how do you estimate stories? 00:55:54

Photo credits: Abdul-Rasul Kassamali, Jama Abdirahman.

Kerika at Lean Transformation 2016

Arun Kumar, CEO of Kerika, and Joy Paulus, Senior Policy and Program Manager for the Washington State Office of the CIO, delivered a joint presentation at the Lean Transformation 2016 Conference.
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The subject of the talk was “Collaboration Across Organizations: Big Results with Small Teams”. Here are the slides from the talk:

Join us at the Lean Transformation Conference

Once again Arun Kumar, Kerika’s founder and CEO, will be speaking at the annual Lean Transformation Conference organized by Results Washington.

This conference is all about Lean and Agile in the public sector: thousands of folks from state, county and local (city) government agencies will be attending, and as usual Kerika will also have a display booth on the 5th floor of the Tacoma Convention Center.

Arun’s topic this year is “Can You See It Now? Visualizing your Lean and Agile Workflows”.

We look forward to seeing our Washington users at the conference; please do stop by our booth or sign up for Arun’s talk!

 

Lean Government & Holacracy: the Video

Here’s an hour-long video of Michael DeAngelo‘s presentation on Lean Government & Holacracy in Washington State:

Highlights from his talk:

On the Office of the CIO

  • Roughly 4,000 IT professionals in Washington State.
  • About 80 agencies run their own IT teams.
  • Office of CIO sets strategy and provides oversight.
  • Transform government through technology and culture.
  • Created the small business hub: business.wa.gov
    • Run as a Scrum project, with 1-week Sprints.
    • Adopted customer-driven design.
    • Successful example of using Lean Startup methodology.
  • Driving the use of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
  • Practice and “open office” style.

On Lean Government

  • Started in Washington State with Governor Christine Gregoire.
  • All agencies are required to have a Lean focus.
  • Challenge: how to be an “employer of choice” for IT professionals, given stiff competition from Amazon, Microsoft, etc.
  • Several agencies have an active Agile/Scrum practice, but this is still in pockets within state government.
    • Office of the CIO
    • Department of Licensing
    • Department of Labor & Industries
  • Impediments to adopting Agile:
    • Having the right tools
    • Having the right sort of contracts
  • Agencies adopting Agile are largely implementing this in a software development context.
  • Developing the Agile QA Scorecard.
  • Developing Agile Procurement for more flexible contracts with vendors.

On Holacracy

  • Goal: empower employees to organize themselves.
  • There are no managers.
  • Washington State is first government anywhere to practice holacracy.
  • Washington State is also the first organization anywhere with a represented workforce (i.e. with employee unions) to practice holacracy.
  • Doing an A/B test of holacracy vs. hierarchical organization, in cooperation with Harvard Business School.
  • Hypothesis of A/B test: self-organizing teams will produce better employee outcomes.
  • Measure for a year and see what the results are.
  • Looking for three categories of metrics:
    • Are employees more engaged, with better retention?
    • Are there better customer outcomes, where “customers” are other agencies?
    • To what extent is an organization practicing holacracy more able to achieve larger organizational objectives
  • Instead of managers, there are roles that are assigned certain accountabilities.
  • Holacracy and Agile have things in common:
    • Bias towards action
    • Be iterative
    • Don’t make up all these demons that might show; see if they actually appear
  • Holacracy and Agile are different:
    • Holacracy isn’t about getting buy-in on your ideas from the team.
  • The Scrum roles, e.g. Product Owner, Scrum Master can be added as holacracy roles in a particular circle.

Quotes

“The reality is, a lot of the cloud providers can provide better security solutions than we can afford internally.”

“For us, cloud is actually one of the strategies for increasing security for the state.”

“The interesting question is, how do you do oversight and QA — really project management QA, not just traditional software QA — in an agile context?”

“One of the metrics for Agile QA: is the business engaged?” (Not just steering committees like before, but do we really have engaged product owners.)

“The contracts and procurement shop in state government practice what they call XP — Extreme Procurement”

“Washington is the only state to practice Agile Procurement and Agile Contracting”

“Downside of holacracy: everyone loves to tell me that I am not the boss of them”

“No government has ever practiced holacracy before.”

“Holacracy has never been practiced with a represented workforce before. (One with employee unions.)”

“I have been practicing holocracy for a few months, and I feel like I have a different set of lenses through which I look at work.”

“When I talk to people who are not practicing holacracy, I see evil spirits around them, like bureaucracy, office politics, inefficient meetings…”

“We develop these habits to compensate for the deficiencies of a hierarchical organization, instead of trying to change it, and this is after thousands of years of evolution.”

“The team has to want it: you need opt-in for holacracy to work.”

“Imagine trying to play soccer with a hierarchical organization, where the team is run by managers who are responsible for different sections of the field.”

“Because I am the manager, you need to always pass the ball to me. Ridiculous as that seems, that’s how hierarchical organizations work.”

“90% of my time is spent on crap that runs government work, and that’s because of the authority of my position.”

“As a manager I don’t have a passion for a lot of things, but other people might, so I want to give them the authority to take them on.”

“Healthy habits in a dysfunctional system become unhealthy habits in a functional system.”

“In holacracy, you quickly learn what makes for a valid objection.”

“The type of people who would not respond well to holacracy are managers that derive their self-worth on span of control.”

“There’s a category of employees who have no interest in being self-directed: they just want to be told what to do.”

Lean & Agile Government in Washington State

Michael DeAngelo, Deputy CIO for the State of Washington (and a long-time user of Kerika 🙂 gave a talk on Lean & Agile Government in Washington State, at the Beyond Agile meetup in Kirkland last week.

Here are his slides:

 

We will shortly be uploading another presentation, on Agile QA, as well an edited video of his entire talk.

Kanban in a Can: Capture, Visualize and Optimize your Everyday Processes

At the Jan 12, 2015 meeting of the Washington State Lean Practitioners Community of Practice meeting, organized by Results Washington at the Department of Labor & Industries in Tumwater, Arun Kumar presented Kanban in a Can: Capture, Visualize and Optimize your Everyday Processes.

Here’s the presentation on Slideshare (although most of it was actually a demo!):

The meeting was attended by dozens of Lean experts representing a huge variety of state agencies in Washington!

Lean Practitioners meeting
Lean Practitioners meeting

Kerika (not) in China

One of our users, normally resident in Poland, is in China right now on vacation, and found to his disappointment that he couldn’t login to his Kerika+Google account.

Actually, he couldn’t login to his Google Account at all.

This is disappointing to hear, but not entirely surprising: Google has had problems making its services available in China for a long time, and so Kerika+Google becomes collateral damage in this larger conflict…

The only long-term solution would be for Kerika to offer its own signup and file storage mechanism, which is something we have considered in the past but is not high on our priority list right now because we have some other stuff we want to build first that’s going to be simply amazing.

Which is good news or bad news, depending upon whether you are in China right now or not…

Kerika makes FOIA one-click easy

If you work for a government agency in the United States – at the Federal, State, or Local level – you are subject to various public disclosure requirements, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act and various other federal and state “Sunshine” laws.

(And, if you work for a governmental organization anywhere in the European Union, that’s going to be true for you as well.)

Kerika makes it one-click easy for you to meet you disclosure requirements, thanks to the Archive and Export feature:

Archiving freezes a project, presumably in it’s “done” state: everyone who used to have access to the project still does, but all cards, canvases and documents associated with that project are made read-only.

This means that you now have a pretty good record for what a project looked like when it was completed: what work was done, by whom, and which documents were used and what conversations took place.

And the kind of integrated, comprehensive view of a done project is something that you can get only from Kerika: the old mix of SharePoint and Project and regular email just doesn’t work!

Exporting is the other piece of the disclosure puzzle: with just one mouse click, you can export all (or some) of the cards in a board, in CSV or HTML format.

Exporting in HTML is particularly helpful when meeting disclosure requests because the HTML output can be easily edited, using Microsoft Word for example, to take out items that need to be redacted for security or privacy reasons.

That’s the difference with a modern project management and team collaboration software like Kerika: the worst part of your government job just became one-click easy.