Differ! is a website and blog about Agile, Lean IT, and management. It is edited by Jaroslav (Jarek) Procházka, an experienced software developer and trainer in Agile and Lean, among other things, who was also lecturing a workshop at the first European Lean IT Summit in 2011.
At Differ! you will find many interesting posts, including the nice introduction to Lean IT: What is Lean IT about?
A great feature of this site is the e-book section, so far holding a free 20-page introduction to ITIL: a bit different from most such introductions, as it is basically a “business short story” (like such business novels as “The Goal” by E. M. Goldratt & J. Cox), a case story through which it is described where and how ITIL can help: the ITIL v3 story of support and maintenance.
The books explains in an entertaining way how and why ITIL improves the support situation for everyone involved – leading to a frustration-free support environment.
And then there is also the main topic of this blog post: A 95-pages e-book, Stopping the Negative Spiral. It is available as an e-book, but you can actually buy a printed copy as well. In either case, the price is very low – and there is a 27-page extract available for free!
The book describes a lot of good and useful learning from a journey in a large company – a journey made by Jarek and his team from being local mentors of Agile practices to being a Lean culture change core team for the whole 18,000 employee organization.
They have learned a lot, it seems! Especially he can tell about common misbeliefs and problems, and interesting comments made by participants of their courses. He tells about the human side of Lean – stating that learning, coaching, and continuous improvement are necessary components of the needed culture change. He touches base with team motivation theory, with Belbin, MTBI, the theory of constraints and more.
Several tools are mentioned – both value stream mapping and Kanban boards, but also a training plan with descriptions of the games used as well as other workshop activities, and the book will teach you how to use a Current Reality Tree (CRT) for root cause analysis, how to use A3, and their own concept: A0, a tool for quickly moving on in cases where there is, for instance, no time for a Kaizen event.
I find that the comprehensive human side discussion and the real plan for how to do what they have done, is what makes this book different. It is not a silver bullet book, it is not describing something that under special circumstances might lead to a success, it is really very practical and focusing on all those things needed – what a typical large company doesn’t have in place already, meaning the understanding and the training program and new, seemingly useful tools.
All in all a great book which adds something needed to the bookshelf – and to the mind of the reader. Something down-to-earth and directly useful, which is missing from the other Lean IT books available.
There is absolutely no reason why anyone interested in Lean IT should not spend the few dollars on getting a copy of this great book.