SoftO2 Philosophy & Approach
What is Lean and Agile?
"Lean" means creating more value for customers with fewer resources. A Lean organisation understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. "Agile" is an approach to software development that has helped teams to become more responsive to customer needs and produce tangible results faster, with just-in-time requirements and early working software.
SoftO2 has a proven track record in Lean-Agile methods and frameworks since 2004. Our three core services—Assessment & Advice, Learning & Training, and Coaching & Change—address all critical areas necessary for starting or advancing with Lean-Agile. With our fourth service—Lean-Agile Scaling—we help implement Agile for multiple teams and organisation-wide.
Feel free to ask a question about a Lean-Agile topic or challenge that’s on your mind. One of our experts will reply promptly—no obligation, no fee.
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AXIOM 1: Lean-Agile Method Adoption Requires A Cultural Transformation
Moving to Lean & Agile first of all requires a new mindset of collaboration, empowered leadership, attention to business value, and a continuous improvement culture. We call this Transformation. This does not happen implicitly by creating a new org chart or by adopting Scrum. It requires embracing a mindset shift at the personal level, which takes time, and should be fostered actively from day #1.
The other area is Adoption: a new organisation structure, new methods and new tools. Even though Lean-Agile methods such as Scrum and Kanban are generally lightweight, they do require careful introduction, training, and fine-tuning.
Our experience is that one cannot easily succeed with method adoption if cultural transformation is neglected. Lack of intra and inter-team collaboration, a continued control-oriented management style, or simply a lack or disbelief in the new Lean-Agile values are the most common failure factors that occur in that case.
AXIOM 2: Adopting Vanilla Scrum Is Only One Step In A Total Migration
Lean-Agile methods such as Scrum and Kanban provide good starting points for renewed roles and processes. However, these methods still require to be configured according to your goals, size, technology, and culture. Just by taking Scrum for example, many questions still need to be answered:
Do we use pure or hybrid methods?
How should teams be split up? (domain/component/..)?
Who takes which role (e.g. who becomes Scrum Master)?
How many iterations will each release contain?
What is the optimal length of each iteration?
How do we continue with in-progress releases?
How will requirements be formulated?
Will test-driven development be beneficial?
How do we synchronise and integrate?
By whom and when is testing and automation done?
What will we measure and report?
Which tools do we put in place?
AXIOM 3: Active Executive Management Participation is A Must
In order to make the described changes, it is absolutely necessary that executives and senior managers understand, experience and embrace the shift. Only after that, they can mobilise an organisation to make the shift. Without this participation, it is likely that bottom-up initiatives get hindered by organisational barriers.
1. ADVICE: Assess Lean-Agile Readiness & Create An Adoption Strategy
In order to migrate to an Lean-Agile approach, organisations and executive management need to make crucial strategic decisions at the very start.
SoftO2 therefore recommends that you kick off with an Lean-Agile migration strategy. We assess your current state and readiness for Lean-Agile—both technically and culturally. We help you define your key value streams, create organisation structure changes with small cross-functional domain or component teams, and make choices about the initial Lean-Agile methods and practices. Plus, we actively work with you on the mindset and cultural changes that enable Lean and Agile.
Workshops such as Lean-Agile Transformation & Adoption Strategies for Executives and Scrum/Kanban Methodology Implementation Bootcamp for Managers & Leads facilitate this important first step with real-world simulations and lessons learned from the 60+ transitions that we have guided. We also provide in-company consulting to help you establish this strategy.
2. SKILL TRAINING: Bring Lean-Agile Skills To All Team Members
Many organisations send selected managers and leads to a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course. This training seems attractive because of the obtained certification but unfortunately these classes are textbook based. As a result, many new Lean-Agile teams have failed in their adoption because the acquired knowledge was too shallow, and the rest of the team was never trained properly. At SoftO2, more than 30% our Lean-Agile engagements have originated from these failed attempts.
SoftO2 therefore decided to design an experience-based Lean-Agile course portfolio that serves both Lean-Agile teams, coaches, and individual roles—POs, Scrum Masters, business analysts, developers, test developers, functional testers, QA specialists, and even HRs. All our courses were authored by expert practitioners and include a high amount of hands-on exercises and cases. The result is that trainees can immediately apply the new skills in the real world.
3. CHANGE COACHING: Guide The Initial Iterations To Become Truly Effective
During the Lean-Agile transformation & adoption, changes in roles, mindset, processes and tools are drastic. It is therefore natural to guide and adjust during the initial Lean-Agile execution. An experienced Lean-Agile coach can facilitate enormously in overcoming these challenges. SoftO2 offers Lean-Agile coaching, with a polished coaching methodology, and we can perform this need-based rather than time-based, onsite or remotely.
4. LEAN-AGILE SCALING & DEVOPS: Extend Lean-Agile to the entire organisation
Large software organisations can only maximise their potential when Agile is implemented end-to-end. Scrum and Kanban suffice for up to approximately 5 teams. At larger scale, we need additional mechanisms and roles to align business strategy, system engineering, programs, Agile teams, and the rest of the organisation such as Human Resources (HR) and Finance.
Based on your goals, size, culture, technology and customers, we strategise, plan, design, train, implement, and coach the right Lean-Agile scaling framework for your organisation and the practices that enable the scaling such as Lean Value Streams, Program Backlogs, Agile Release Trains, Shift-Left Testing and DevOps. We combine proven techniques from established models (e.g. SAFe and Spotify) with our experience as enterprise coaches and your experience as domain experts. Together, we create an insanely effective software delivery lifecycle for your stakeholders and your teams.