Hands on Agile and Lean Practices
Hands on Agile and Lean Practices
05 - 06 March 2014

In a true agile manner we will develop the detailed schedule according to the on-site requirements together with the participants to ensure that we cover all topics in sufficient depth. The first iteration of such a plan is laid out here.

Day 1

WIP limits by Michael Mahlberg

Participants learn how setting limits on the amount of Work-in-Progress affects the flow and efficiency in a production system. This holds for tangible factory, and knowledge work alike. We practice this core concept that will come back repeatedly during these two days with a simple and fun simulation

Value Stream Mapping by Michael Mahlberg

After a brief demonstration outlining terminology and principles, a further iteration of the A3 report will now incorporate a Value Stream, to visualize the business process and specify what and how to measure progress before initiating an improvement initiative

A3 strategic thinking by Tom Breur

Connecting strategy and long-term goals to day-to-day work is essential to "hold the course" under changing ("Agile") conditions. A3 is also tied to reporting about progress in PDCA cycles.


Retrospectives by Tom Breur

Periodic revision of effectiveness of practices is mainstay in all Agile schools of thought, although not always called “Retrospectives.” This section takes a deep dive into some of the fine points of running and participating in Retrospectives to make them more useful. To avoid Retrospective “burnout” we introduce a plethora of exercises to keep your Retrospectives lively and engaging.

Learning simulation

In a simulated development process we apply the ideas developed beforehand and gather some more insights into their practical application

5 Why’s/Fishbone diagrams/Root cause analysis by Michael Mahlberg

In all Agile methods we continuously aim to improve processes. For “hard” problems, the obvious and easy solutions almost never “work” – simply because the system is too complex and will resist change. That is where root cause analysis comes into play. We investigate this in a number of different flavors and variations.

A3 report writing by Michael Mahlberg

Even though A3-thinking is based on simple ideas and rules, the ways to use it are almost limitless. Much like a game of Chess, where the basic rules can be described on a leaflet while the game itself can unfold in endless variations. To incorporate A3-thinking, we begin a first iteration of an A3 report. This helps the participants frame their learning, and experience multiple iterations as their report evolves.

Real options – costs/risks/expiration, concurrent development, delaying decisions until the last responsible moment by Michael Mahlberg

Many Agile beginners wallow in delaying decisions, which is often “low hanging fruit” to gain some advantage, and cut out unnecessary cost. Once this has become a habit, the team can easily overshoot this goal, and needs to learn that leaving options open (delaying commitments) provides value, but also comes at a cost. People learn how they can make their team more aware of these trade-offs, and how they can work towards an “optimal” approach for the team. 

Day 2
Morning Afternoon

Simulation by Tom Breur

Aims to give participants experiential evidence of what it feels like to be, or to be hampered by a bottleneck. By playing a game, the threshold is lowered to try new behaviors to cope with such situations.

Theory of Constraints simulation by Tom Breur

The way products “flow” through a system is not always intuitive. In this simulation you have a chance to observe and experience bottlenecks.

Theory of Constraints/Throughput Accounting/Little’s Law by Tom Breur

ToC is one of the approaches to teamwork, and efficiently managing complex systems that teams can grasp relatively easy, and use to their advantage. ToC in conjunction with Throughput Accounting provides a valuable tool, in particular “on the road to Kanban.” By managing only three parameters, you can learn to keep complex systems in check.

Toyota “stop the line”, or if I don’t stop the line, I’ll produce (lots of) waste – especially in knowledge work by Michael Mahlberg

The Toyota system contains many insights to advancing Agile practices. “Stop the line” is one of those counter intuitive practices that may well be even more important in knowledge work to contain the amount of “waste” produced by the system


Cumulative Flow Diagrams (CFD), lead times by Michael Mahlberg

These reports are the bread and butter for tracking progress in Kanban. They contain many hidden gems, and leveraging all the information that comes out of a limited set of metrics is part of the “art” of going Agile: “maximizing the work not done”.

PDCA & Deming by Michael Mahlberg

Is a classic approach to monitoring the effectiveness of systems and actions within that system. Improvement initiatives are really hypotheses that can (need to) be tested, and the PDCA cycle provides valuable tools for this.



Your Trainers
Michael MahlbergMichael Mahlberg works as a problem solver for software development projects for more than twenty years now. Like many others in this field he soon realized that only some of the challenges with regard to successful software projects are of a technical nature and that the human side of development teams more often than not provides for way more leverage. Having worked with teams of all sizes – in small organizations like local healthcare providers as well as big multi-nationals like Airbus Industries or the Zurich Financial Group – he came to value lightweight processes as a key success factor and actively supports their development - e.g. as a co-fonder of the "Limited WIP Cociety Cologne" http://www.lwscologne.de or by promoting the german lean coffees http://german.leancoffee.org

More about Michael

Tom Breur

Tom Breur
has a background in Database Management and Market Research. In the past 10 years he has specialized in how companies can make
better use of their data. He is an accomplished teacher at universities, MBA programs, and for the IQCP (Information Quality Certified Professional)
and CBIP program (Certified Business Intelligence Professional). He is a regular keynoter at international conferences. At the moment he is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Targeting, the Journal of Financial Services Management, and Banking Review. He is Chief Editor for the new Palgrave Journal of marketing Analytics, and Director of Events for the International Association for Information and Data Quality. He acts as an advisor for The Council of Financial Competition, and the Business Banking Board, and was cited among others in Harvard Management Update about state-of-the-art data analytics.

More about Tom 

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