Reference Books, Papers, and Artifacts

The portal provides access to a helpful set of readings, papers, and documents to help you in Lean-Agile including a glossary of terms, online books, and white papers. Explore the following resources for Terminology, Lean-Agile Executives and Transformation Agents, Management, Becoming Lean-Agile, Product Portfolio Management, Team Agility, Technical Agility, and Leanban.


Glossary of Lean-Agile Terms

Definitions of important terms you will encounter. This resource is helpful for coaches and teams. Some teams post a copy in their Agile team room.
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Lean-Agile executives and transformation agents

An Overview of Guardrails: Keeping Aligned and on Track

Solution Delivery is a complex process. However, it is possible to see if one is on track in a relatively straightforward manner. In essence, Lean-Agile methods are about achieving the highest level of Business value realization in the shortest amount of time in a predictable and sustainable manner. This requires working on the most important Business value requests within the proper capacity to implement them quickly. This is often complex and difficult; however, it is less difficult to assess if you are staying on track. To help with this, we have defined a set of guardrails. These guardrails take the form of non-negotiable agreements made across the organization. Each agreement has a set of questions to consider to ensure that everyone is doing what was agreed to. The guardrails are grounded both in the intention of realizing Business value and in following known principles of Lean-Agile software development. The purpose of the guardrails is both for alignment and to keep people on the right path. They provide guidance to ensure that you are on course and to allow you to make decisions at a local level while ensuring you are still aligned to the rest of the value stream.

The Business Case for Agility

The five most important reasons for going Agile and how it is that understanding the whys of Agile helps you with this transition. This article also discovers our breakthrough approach to managing requirements which we call the Minimum Business Increment (MBI). (Al Shalloway. 11/2016)

Net Objectives Approach to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)®

While Agile has worked well for small teams it has achieved mixed results as one attempts to scale it. This article discusses the challenges of Agile at scale and some effective ways to achieve success. (Al Shalloway. 1/2017)

Aligning Multiple Teams with Lean-Agile Thinking

Three key principles of Lean Thinking for software development. This article describes how they apply to the value stream (the name Lean gives the workflow from “concept” to “consumption”). It also describes three disciplines Lean-Agile teams will need to follow to keep value flowing. Finally, it illustrates how Lean Thinking guides Agile enterprises in addressing challenges in their context. Lean-Agile lays out a different, more disciplined approach for scaling Agile. (Al Shalloway. 11/2016)

The Net Objectives Approach for Fast Growth and Mid-Scale Organizations

Many companies are looking at large scale Agile solutions because they’ve been unable to get teams to work together. While Scrum-of-Scrums has proven to be ineffective, there are other methods that can have multiple teams work together effectively without heavy overhead. This paper discusses several issues of Agile at mid-scale and several techniques that can be used that allow more Agility and greater pivoting when necessary. These methods work both for fast growth companies that are wanting to keep their levels of innovation up while they grow as well as companies in the mid-scale range (150-1000) people that are looking to rejuvenate their methods. (Al Shalloway. 1/2017)

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Art of Action: How Leaders Close the Gaps between Plans, Actions, and Results

We highly recommend The Art of Action by Stephen Bungay for executives, management, and leadership who are responsible for transitioning their enterprises with Lean and Agile. We have created an authorized summary of the essential concepts from each chapter of this important book. Download the article (PDF).

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Becoming Lean-Agile

Agile Conversations

A collection of conversations that demonstrates some of the tangible and intangible benefits of a successful Agile implementation. (Guy Beaver, Alan Chedalawada. 3/2008)

An Agile Developer’s Guide to Lean Software Development. This provides a good introduction to Lean for Agile developers. A chapter from the book Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility. (Al Shalloway. 9/2009)

Becoming Lean: The Why, What and How

A different way of looking at Lean Software Development, one that is independent of Lean’s manufacturing heritage. It begins by presenting Lean as a collection of a body of knowledge applying Lean principles to software development. It then shows how this creates a new paradigm of management, one that does not inevitably lead to micro-management or chaos. Finally, it concludes with a discussion about how organizations can use Lean to improve their ability to learn. (Al Shalloway. 12/2010)

Evolving Your Business With Lean-Agile

How to achieve the promise of Lean and Agile methods by integrating the two approaches in a way that manifests the promise of each. In particular, Lean suggests we should focus on delivering business value quickly by creating a system for effective and efficient development. Agile informs our design of this system by attending to teams, creativity, and collaboration. Both advocate a continuous improvement of methods via feedback and reflection. Al first presents the key concepts and approaches for accomplishing this and then examines the impact on management when implementing them. (Al Shalloway. 3/2015)

How to Adopt Scrum Effectively

As you approach adopting Scrum, you must consider how teams fit into the bigger picture of the organization. This informs the entire process of Scrum adoption. There are three phases: preparation, workshops and supporting the adoption. This has informed the approach at Net Objectives. It begins with a focus on the complex skills needed to master Scrum while leaving some of the details of Scrum’s ceremonies to later. Some of these skills include how to tailor Scrum to your context and using Acceptance Test-Driven Development the ability to write clear, well-scoped, and small stories. In addition, instead of requiring expensive on-site team level coaches, online, self-paced, programs to support all of Scrum’s roles needs to be provided. In particular, Scrum Masters need guidance on their journey from a two-day class to true mastery. (Al Shalloway. 6/2018)

Lean-Agile Adoption from the C-Suite to DevOps

What you must do to transition to Lean-Agile methods in an organization. It describes the three common challenges faced, the activities to resolve these challenges, and the approach we take to become effective. (Al Shalloway. 3/2016)

Lean-Agile Product Management

Lean-Agile Product Management (LAPM) is a key part of Business Agility: the quick realization of value predictably, sustainably and with high quality. It is primarily focused on the agile Business Discovery of value to turn goals and objectives into appropriately defined and scoped requirements of those aspects of a system being built. These higher level, but well scoped and defined requirements feed business delivery by providing thinly sliced segments that can be quickly developed, providing quick feedback and the ability to pivot. Product management therefore holds business owners as its primary customers and guides business delivery to meet the expectations of its customers. (Luniel de Beer. 7/2018)

Lean Anti-Patterns and What to do About Them

A discussion of a few common Lean Anti-Patterns. Anti-Patterns are commonly recurring practices that are counterproductive. We call them “Lean” Anti-Patterns because these anti-patterns result from violating Lean principles. Lean principles form the basis for Scrum practices. Looking at how Lean Anti-Patterns violate lean principles gives us insight into how we need to modify our practices to be more effective. (Al Shalloway. 8/2007)

Net Objectives Approach to Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®)

For some organizations, SAFe by itself is sufficient, but for larger organizations (2,000+) that have inter-leaved products and whose shared services (such as business intelligence) are required to support multiple products, some additional practices are needed. It is important to remember that SAFe is a framework and not a total solution in and of itself. There are many areas where SAFe provides mere awareness of issues you must solve, not a full solution. In addition, there are several practices we have found useful that are not included in the framework. While the standard courses and website might tell you what to achieve, they do little to tell you how to do it in many areas. The essential difference here is that we look to SAFe for ideas when provided solutions don’t exactly fit the needs of your organization. We use the principles of Lean-Agile to guide us, along with other practices to enhance SAFe to be more effective. (Al Shalloway. 11/2016)

Overview of Guardrails: Keeping Aligned and On Track

The purpose of guardrails is both for alignment and to keep people on the right path. They provide guidance to ensure that you are on course and to allow you to make decisions at a local level while ensuring you are still aligned to the rest of the value stream. This article introduces the idea of guardrails and describes each one. (Al Shalloway. 9/2015)

Overview of Lean-Agile Methods

An overview of the more popular Lean-Agile methods of the last decade, including XP, Scrum, Kanban and Lean. (Al Shalloway. 9/2010)

Steps to Agile Success

Having well-defined outcomes and a plan for achieving those outcomes is key to keeping the transformation effort on track. (Alex Singh. 1/2017)

Using Lean-Agile to Provide the Real Value of ALM

How to use Lean-Thinking to guide Agile transitions. (Al Shalloway. 10/2010)

Where to Begin Your Transition to Lean-Agile

Too many organizations assume that the place to start their Agile transition is at the team. Often, it is not. This article discusses what to consider when starting a transition to Agile methods. (Al Shalloway. 12/2000)

Why Tailored Agile Transformation Solutions Are More Effective, Less Expensive, and Less Risky

Our contention and experience is that solutions tailored to an organization’s current situation, challenges, and culture can be more effective and less costly than predefined ones that are applied out of the box. While there are risks to the former, these can be avoided. The different set of risks to taking predefined solutions, ironically, can only be avoided by tailoring them. This article discusses the values and risks of both approaches and how to get the benefits of both. (Al Shalloway. 11/2016)

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Product Portfolio Management

Driving Enterprise Agility from the Program Management Office

An experience report from one of our clients that discusses how they improved their IT effectiveness by focusing on the Program Management Office. (Guy Beaver, Kelley Horton. 7/2010)

Lean Portfolio Management: Guiding IT Projects with Business Value

An introduction to project portfolio management, offering a review of the Lean portfolio, the importance of letting Business value lead the effort, and the benefits to be derived. (Guy Beaver. 3/2008)

Software by Numbers: Low-Risk, High-Return Development. Mark Denne, Jane Cleland-Huang.

Ultimately, software development is about creating value—yet, all too often, software fails to deliver the business value customers need. This book will help you change that, by linking software development directly to value creation. You’ll learn exactly how to identify which features add value and which don’t—and refocus your entire development process on delivering more value, more rapidly.

Using Product Portfolio Management to Improve the Efficiency of Teams

How organizations often fail in rolling out Agile methods to the organization because they never truly address the real impediment their development organization is facing: too many projects, projects that are too large, and/or projects that are poorly understood. (Al Shalloway. 4/2010)

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Team Agility

Challenging Why (Not If) Scrum Works

Why does Scrum work? The answer may surprise you. It also opens up why you must always go beyond practices and look at the principles on which they are built. (Al Shalloway. 9/2007)

Demystifying Kanban

Kanban is a systems approach to software development that affects many different types of behaviors. This article mentions a few of the common misconceptions people have about Kanban in order to help clarify what Kanban is and is not. (Al Shalloway. 3/2011)

Introduction to Commonality/Variability Analysis

Design patterns do not exist in isolation, but work in concert with other design patterns to help you create more robust applications. In this book, you will gain a solid understanding of twelve core design patterns and a pattern used in analysis. You will gain enough of a foundation that you will be able to read the design pattern literature, if you want to, and possibly discover patterns on your own. Most importantly, you will be better equipped to create flexible and complete software that is easier to maintain. (Al Shalloway, James R Trott. 10/2004)

The Role of Quality Assurance in Lean-Agile Software Development

This chapter covers several critical issues surrounding the role of quality assurance in Lean-Agile software development. (Al Shalloway. 10/2009)

Trim Tabs and Pickup Sticks

This white paper describes two important mindsets that have long informed Net Objectives’ approach to software development, training, and coaching. (Al Shalloway. 10/2009)

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Technical Agility

Acceptance Test-Driven Development: An Introduction

A short introduction to Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD). (Ken Pugh. 5/2011)

Avoiding System Bankruptcy: How to Pay Off Your Technical Debt

This reprint from Agile Product and Project Management introduces the concept of technical debt, what practices and attitudes cause it, and what we can do to prevent it or pay it off. (Amir Kolsky. 11/2016)

Can Patterns Be Harmful?

Patterns are an effective thought process, not merely solutions to recurring problems in a context. (Al Shalloway. 9/2003)

Shalloway’s Law

This reprint from Chapter 4 of Essential Skills for the Agile Developer: A Guide to Better Programming and Design, discusses how to truly avoid redundancy. (Al Shalloway, Scott Bain, Ken Pugh, Amir Kolsky. 9/2011)

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Leanban Primer: Lean Software Development at the Team Level

The Leanban Primer collects in one resource the good practices we have learned and observed as we have trained thousands of teams in Lean and Agile software development, including SAFe®, Scrum, kanban, and XP. This is a “primer.” It is designed to supplement training, such as the courses described at It offers guidance through concise descriptions and checklists and visuals rather than trying to instruct you in essential concepts. It is organized to help you find what you need when you need it, following the normal course of a project. This primer is intended to support the Leanban team (business analysts and developers and testers) and the Team Agility Coach who work together to create a product. It addresses everything they will be doing in their work. Certainly, there is more to Lean-Agile than this: both upstream (in product planning) and downstream (in release and support) as well as managing the value stream. We chose to focus on the team level to keep the primer at a reasonable and useful size.

Introduction to Leanban

This whitepaper provides a basic introduction to Leanban. Leanban is a team-level offering that makes higher level Lean-Agile tenets actionable on a day-by-day basis. It involves a number of concepts that everyone must learn. This whitepaper explores why you should care about Leanban, its advantages, a consistent approach to implementing the Minimum Business Increments that have been selected for development, roles, and practices.

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