Apply Practice Patterns

No two complex organizations are alike and therefore require unique treatment, that depends on the organizational context. This makes it impossible to apply a predefined exact solution to the problem (see Cookie-Cutter anti-pattern). Practices, in order to evolve into Organizational Habits, require adjustment and tailoring (see also Best Practice Fallacy).

At the same time, there is a significant number of existing practice patterns that emerged in the industry over decades. While hardly any one of them can be applied “as is”, they provide a good idea of what could be achieved.

Following are some commonly known examples:

  • Continuous Integration
  • Agile Planning
  • Agile Estimation
  • Inspect and Adapt
  • Refactoring
  • Continuous Delivery
  • Cadence
  • Mob Programming
  • Demo

And so on and so forth…

To be effectively used by an organization, a practice pattern has to have some of its key components:

  1. Practice goal
  2. Embedded Mental Model
  3. High-level mechanics
  4. Dependencies on other practices

The following is a significantly abbreviated example of a practice pattern for Agile Estimation:

Practice Goal:  Obtaining rough approximation of the effort, risk and complexity involved in the implementation of an initiative

Embedded Mental Model: As a leader, I understand that estimation only reduces uncertainty to some level, but never actually eliminates it entirely. Teams cannot be held accountable to variation of estimates. Estimations are not a valid basis to scope commitment.

High-Level Mechanics: Estimation is performed by the people who do the work. Estimation happens in a collaborative manner with minimized peer impact. Estimates can be and often are questioned in the process, to improve understanding.

Dependencies on other practices: Cross-functional team, Gemba, Feedback Loops, Inspect and Adapt.

To facilitate actual implementation, based on a practice pattern, Thinking Tools are required. So, for example, a Relax Constraint tool can be used to adjust Cadence to specific use by enterprise teams.