Scalable KAFE

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”  John C. Maxwell

The Journey

For over three years I have been working on a new version of the Kanban Ace Method. In summary Kanban Ace is an innovative way to organize and manage teams, it helps them improve the way they work so that any product, initiative, service, or even a whole organization can be more effective in delivering value to the customer.

The way forward was not clear, it felt like looking through a dense fog, particularly since Kanban Ace was fairly complete, we even teach courses online about it! So the temptation to write a book on what was already available was strong. However, two things dissuaded me: First there are many good introductory books about Kanban, and even though they are not the same flavor of Kanban Ace they are pretty good, and we do have a lot in common, futhermore I have deep respect for those authors. Second, I wanted to advance the state of the art, and solve problems I was seeing over and over in larger organizations struggling to do Agile Transformations.

This last challenge is difficult, how can we do an Agile Transformation for many agile teams? Teams of teams with hundreds or thousands of people inside of them. This journey of discovery took me into several useful detours: the Scaled Agile Framework, Large Scale Scrum, Disciplined Agile Delivery, the Spotify model of Tribes and Chapters, and several modern military strategies. The more I read about them, and the more I experimented with my own Kanban Ace solutions for scaling, it became clear that this was the future of Kanban Ace.

Announcing “Scalable KAFE”

Now you may say not another one!  But do believe me this one is very different from the rest. It can work well with others, and it will allow you to use the best from other frameworks inside a coherent whole that is lighter and less complex, that is why I call it SCALABLE it will fit your organization.

KAFE stands for Kanban Ace for Effectiveness. Effectiveness is at the heart of the agile strategy for large organizations: improving the whole system is much more important than a tiny part of it, and many times software development is a small piece of the puzzle as Klaus Leopold makes very clear on his latest book and on this diagram:

Klaus-Leopold-agile only in DEV-v2

Three key pieces of KAFE have already been written in the past two years, one has even been published in full (the Akashi Bridge) and the last one is ongoing. They are at the core of this new framework:

1. KAFE’s Akashi Bridge.

From the beginning it became clear that there is a need to welcome fellow Scrum practitioners into a larger team that also includes Kanban. The Akashi Bridge is a technique available today that makes it easy for Scrum teams to adopt Kanban Ace, keep all the roles and features they love from Scrum, and gain all the power of Kanban.

2. KAFE’s Scale.

A neutral and universal way to measure objectively the level of agility vs. complexity introduced by any scaling framework, and to pick and choose key elements for your Enterprise Agile Transformation version of Scalable KAFE. Initially we will support SAFe fully, but we will also provide you the tools and criteria to use it for any scaling framework.

3. KAFE’s Ship.

As wonderful as having a fully multi-functional team is, the fact is that it is not always possible to have many agile teams become fully multi-functional. The reasons are scarcity of specialists, scarcity of budget, and the need to work with teams using both Scrum and Kanban. KAFE’s Ship will allow you to build a Scalable Group of Agile Teams, where agility is encouraged, but limitations are also acknowledged and minimized. It shows clearly what the ideal would be (fully multi-functional) but it also provides great coordination and agility today.

4. KAFE’s Movement

movement

This is an improvement over Kanban Ace Gears, the technique we already have to decouple, and radically improve the effectiveness of several agile teams. KAFE’s Movement will bring clarity and guidance to have agility at four levels:

  • The Strategy and Vision Level
  • The Portfolio Level
  • The Program Level
  • The Team Level

The ultimate objective is to achieve business-wide agility. Agile that reaches not only the software development team, or even DevOps, but agility that can extend to every area of the company such as: Executive Leadership, Finance, Marketing, HR, Compliance, Security and of course all of IT.

Instead of going for a big bang approach while writing this book for Scalable KAFE, I intend to write every chapter online on this blog, gather your valuable feedback, inspect and adapt. I welcome and encourage your comments and advice. Together with these creative efforts I also plan to show where would DevOps, LeanUX and Lean Startup fit in the overall context of Large Agile Transformations. Once the book is written, I will feel delighted to have improved a bit the state of the art, and bring a useful toolset to all those who are commited to make agile successful in large organizations.

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