I am helping my team transition to lean and agile, and before a new person joined last month, no one had any experience whatsoever with this approach. Team members have between 1-10 years of experience with software development and other related fields.

One of the most effective ways I've found to bring the team up to speed on this is to do short educational presentations in our weekly meetings. I usually show a short (5-10 mins) video and then facilitate a discussion. We do in-depth workshops on specific topics as the need arises.

Here are some of the topics I've covered:

  • Agile values and principles
  • User stories (INVEST, splitting)
  • The resource utilization trap
  • T-shaped individuals
  • Testing

Currently, I don't have a detailed plan as to which concepts I should introduce to the team. Up until now, it hadn't been necessary because the team is pretty much starting from scratch, but I'm starting to reach the limits of this ad hoc approach. I'm also considering doing some knowledge transfer with other (non-technical, e.g. marketing, sales, ops, etc.) teams, so a clear structure would help me.

I've been doing some research to build a kind of "lean/agile curriculum", and I've found Agile Alliance's Subway Map to Agile Practices quite useful in that regard, but I'm wondering if there are other (possibly more "meta") concepts that are missing from there. I'm also wondering about the order those should be presented in. Hence my question:

Q: What should a lean/agile curriculum contain? In what order should lean/agile concepts, practices and tools be introduced to the team? Have you come across such curricula?

NB: I'm looking for advice on "small a agile" that applies regardless of the framework (e.g. Scrum) that is used. As well, to be consistent with the approach, each mini-workshop/presentation should deliver value in that team members would be able to apply it to their day-to-day work, and see a change.

This is a really broad question and open to a lot of subjectivity, so I can provide what would be at the top of my list from a few years of teaching these topics to teams, but others may have completely different and perfectly valid opinions:

First, everything on your list looks great. Obviously testing is massive. My personal focus with testing is the XP view of testing, which is really just based out of the lean principle of "Building Quality In" instead of only checking for quality later.

Also, on User Stories, a lot of people over-focus on the mechanics of User Stories and don't focus on the purpose and theory behind them. Mike Cohn has an awesome (though hour-long) video that you can distill down and then people can follow up and watch the whole thing if interested: https://vimeo.com/97516290

Other topics I find valuable are:

  • Empirical Process Control
  • Value Streams
  • Iterative, Incremental, and Adaptive product development

Hope that helps! Good Luck!

Because you are all new to Agile approaches, I recommend including the following (in addition to what you have already covered):

  1. Intro to the Scrum Framework
  2. Intro to the Kanban Method
  3. Intro to a third less-known system such as Crystal, OpenAgile, or the like
  4. Lean thinking about types of waste
  5. Retrospectives purpose and techniques
  6. Teamwork and agility (e.g. summary of "The Wisdom of Teams" by Katzenbach and Smith
  7. Collaboration techniques such as pairing, mobbing, brainstorming, Innovation Games etc.
  8. Management topics such as planning, estimation and budgeting
  9. Technical practices such as Test-Driven Development, Architectural Spikes, Continuous Integration
  10. Common challenges and obstacles (might require getting help from outside since without experience this might not be obvious)
  11. Agility beyond the team including management, operations, product-orientation

There are many other topics as well if you wanted to go more in-depth, but this would be a good survey introduction. If you want to go beyond just facts and concepts, you need to introduce things using exercises and simulations. Most people delivering training on agility will include their own proprietary exercises. I teach Scrum quite regularly and I use a simulation where a team builds a comic book over three Sprints. One of my colleagues teaches Kanban using the "Get Kanban" game. There are folks out there who use fun exercises with Lego pieces. In all cases, the exercises and simulations help a group bridge the "knowing-doing" gap.

I also recommend a short reading list and maybe forming a book club that includes the following in no particular order (assuming you are in a software/IT environment):

  • Agile Software Development by Alistair Cockburn
  • Lean Software Development by Mary and Tom Poppendieck
  • Succeeding with Agile by Mike Cohn
  • Agile Retrospectives by Esther Derby
  • The Wisdom of Teams by Katzenbach and Smith (not specific to Agile and Lean, but good)

There are lots more, but that's a good starting place!

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