Beyond the agility : Lean

Eliyahu M. Goldratt states in his book  Theory of Constraints,

“Anybody who thinks we can overcome an emotional resistance with logic was probably never married. We can only overcome emotion with a stronger emotion.”

What if there is a huge resistance in your organization against Agility? Are you going to force Agile methodologies? According to Eliyahu Goldratt, you should first fix the emotional layer then move to the logical layer. If you try to force Agile methodologies because of its popularity without proper implementation strategy then you will most likely fail.

Kanban and Scrum are just mechanics. We should go to a deeper level and try to apply quality philosophy, continued learning and kaizen, etc. Total healing should start from the top level of management.


Look at the case in accountant department's point of view

Assume that you are working as an accountant in a company and your company hangs a poster (Agile Manifesto) like the one below. Does this poster make sense to the Accounting Department?
agile manifesto

Agile may be great for IT departments, but it may not be quite so easily adopted by other departments in your organization. How can an organization grow with only productive IT guys?


Scrum or Kanban ?

I look at Scrum or Kanban as a medicine.  A medicine just fixes the symptoms but not the root causes. Scrum or Kanban are just mechanics.  In the short term healing will come but in order to fix the root problems, we have to go beyond Agility. Again, Eliyahu M. Goldratt states in his Theory of Constraints that:
It's not enough to state that Just-In-Time'sprimary focus is not the reduction of inventory, it's not just a mechanical KANBAN System, but it's definitely an overall management philosophy.
I think Scrum is a good medicine for destroying inefficiency in the short term but it has lots of side effects (such as: changing roles, forcing you to iterate on non-iterable processes, etc.) so Scrum medicine may not be the best fit for your organization.
I think Kanban is also a good medicine for destroying inefficiency in the short term but with minimum side effects. Kanban has minimum side effects because the Kanban system builds upon current processes. For example, Kanban doesn't force you change your organization.  Also the Kanban system helps prepare your team for Lean thinking but as I said in the short term Kanban acts like a medicine, which is similar to Scrum. Also if you want you can mix Kanban and Scrum medicines and apply them to your organization (example: Scrumban).  The point is if the overall management philosophy doesn't change then nothing will change.
I have seen lots of organizations that use the Waterfall approach (like another type of medicine) in their projects.  Should we force those organizations to use the Agile method?

Symptomatic Treatment

Using Kanban or Scrum for just sake of popularity will only temporarily solve symptoms. Of course, implementing a course of action with careful planning is a great step for your company, but attempting to hastily implement a methodology just because it is popular is not wise.

We've just convinced upper management so we can't apply anything new...

I would like to share an interesting story about a client. They told me about the difficulties they faced while applying Agile methodologies. In response, I started to explain that the Kanban approach can be quickly applied to their organization, but then they suddenly stopped me and said:

“We have just convinced our senior management we should be using Scrum, if we suggest we use Kanban now then the senior management team will fire us!!”

Again, it is very risky for an organization to force their teams to use Agile methodologies. Always remember  Fifth discipline's  second rule
The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back.

Beyond agility : Lean

We should look at the problem from a bigger perspective. Agile methodologies are good but from an organizational point of view they are not sufficient for improving efficiency. Lots of the companies suffer from inefficiency illness.  Below is a visualization of the difference between Lean and Agile.
Mehmet Tunç & James Hartley
From an organizational point of view, applying Lean thinking will bring better results. We need to create systems that solve problems automatically - in order to reach our goals.
Organizational point of view applying Lean thinking will bring better results. We need to create self problem solving systems in order to reach our goals.