Dan Vacanti - Rightsizing
I met Dan years and years ago in my active time in the Kanban community. Dan was part of the very beginning of Kanban in 2007! Since then he’s been deep into Lean and Agile. Dan authored two books, "Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability“ and "When will it be done?“. He is also the founder of Actionable Agile. Dan always had his independent thought. Most of all, he is a builder of bridges. He worked hard with Scrum.org on integrating the good ideas of Scrum and Kanban. Also, he organises the conference LeanAgile US which just happened from 25 -27 Feb 2019 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Possibly most noteworthy, Dan's twitter Avatar is not the usual egg provided by twitter, but a self made picture of an egg.
Here excerpts of our conversation as a loose transcript. don't take it word by word, please!
The underlying idea for all of us is to maximise customer value.
Cost of Delay is a tool suggested as basis for ranking, prioritising and sequencing on a more objective base rather than gut feel. Hopefully based on basic economic fundamentals.
An extension of that is WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First), which is defined by CD3= CoD / Duration. This is meant to give a shortcut to give an answer to which number does this item have in the sequence of things to be done.
But here's the caveat: It is critical enough to get the number for duration right (how long does this take to be done? - The Estimate!). But the even more critical question is: "how do we even get the number for the value of the thing we are building?"
This is where my research started, but "Let me be honest with you, and this is just me talking, nothing I found was practical or applicable in my world.“
"More importantly, I felt there we’re a whole bunch of assumptions going into this CoD number that didn’t reflect reality.“
"Let’s focus this discussion on the area of complex product development work. And we try to get that number even before start working on something. Which, by definition, is when we have the highest amount of uncertainty. And this is what struck me: How can this CoD number give us the right answer? And that’s were I started my investigation.“
Customers will always be able to ask things from us faster than we will be able to deliver them.
There are fundamental assumptions in CoD to be in place for that to make sense.
When there is uncertainty involved, we need a probabilistic approach. That means, we have to work with ranges. That means we have to think about CoD as a distribution across that range. The same is true for the duration.
Those two assumptions are not fatal. There are mathematical tools like Monte Carlo simulation that help us to come up with an answer.
BUT: If you are in a world, where you no the numbers, then CoD/D = CD3 gives you the right number. If you do not know these numbers, once you deliver the thing, these numbers could be completely different.
So now CoD can change and as well duration can change. When you now run a Monte Carlo simulation, you will realise that this is not the best tool once uncertainty sets in.
The best answer in this world is to do things by random sequencing. What matters is: right sizing items. What that means is, we need to break things up to a size where they reasonable flow through our system. So, CoD doesn’t make a difference. Duration doesn’t make a difference. What makes a difference is right sizing your items.
This flies in the face of what’s lately been said in agile, where there is a lot of talk about outcomes over output. And what we found out is that it’s actually the other way around: It’s output over outcomes. It’s the output that generates the outcome. A metaphor here is gambling, where you would place as many small bets as possible to generate outcome.
„We’re coming back to a fundamental principle of Lean, which is that value is defined by the customer.“ What is the smallest thing that we could feedback on from the customer?
This is part two of the conversation I had with Jabe Bloom and Marc Burgauer during the Devops Conference 2018 in Munich.
All information can be found in the show notes of part 1, which is Episode 21 of this podcast.
Here some short show notes on this second part.
"Russell Ackoff wrote a brilliant paper titled "On Data Mismanagement Systems and the basic thesis is: Managers need data to make decisions and the more data they have, the better it is. Of course, the answer is: Managers don't need more information, they need the right information"
"Of course, big data is a response to a particular problem and the particular problem is "Oh god, we made such big piles of data that no human can actually process it anymore. And now we have to come up with an algorithm to summarise the data for us."
"By definition all future things are stories. They don't exist. That's why they're in the future. You can't measure them. You can't use data to understand them. You can only use data to understand what exists now."
"People think that you have to change people's thinking first. You change what they think about things and then they change their behavior and that will change the output. And that's absolutely wrong. You have to change what they're looking at and that will change their thinking. And when you want to change something, that's when you need to create those models and give people new things to look at."
"Right now everyone goes rushing towards high cycle time, high frequency: spin as fast as you can. If everyone is playing to the same time cycles, there is no advantage to doing that. … In fact, the advantage will be having the discipline … of having long term vision and connecting them to the capabilities of having a short cycle time. That's the next competitive advantage. We need people to be able to understand how to make commitments beyond two weeks. Period."
"We need to create space for commitments. If everything is an option you have no commitments. If you had no commitments, you have no identity."
"I hate the word autonomy. … I think autonomy is individuating. … The way I hear the word and I think other people hear it - and I might be wrong and other people hear it differently - but the way I hear it is "I have the right to make my own decisions. I have the right to make my own rules."
"If you look up the etymology of the word it means "the owner of the rules". (Whereas) Agency is my ability to chose in that environment and to see the result of it. Autonomy as the ability to act without responsibility is my concern. The ability to act without considering the feedback loop of what s the effect of what I have done.
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