Retrospectives with system modelling Retrospectives with system modelling Retrospectives with system modelling Retrospectives with system modelling Retrospectives with system modelling Retrospectives with system modelling

Retrospectives with system modelling

In the Certified LeSS Practitioner classes by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde, system modelling is introduced.

I refer to system modelling in the sense of causal loop diagrams and stock & flow diagrams. I am a fan of both Dan Woodlock and Gene Bellinger. See sample videos below.

 

Dan Woodlock

Gene Bellinger

Context is everything, and I like to agree on the context before starting.

Rather than go full steam ahead Dan Woodlock style with supporting spreadsheets (which I value a lot), in LeSS we like to use system models as a tool for dialogue with the objective of attaining a common understanding of “the system”. One could argue we never truly understand the system and I go along with that. But we can still periodically improve our understanding of it.

I like to model the impact on the number of implicit product backlogs, e.g. the use of “filters” on Jira so instead of a single backlog we really have many. I like Julie Wyman’s post “how to create a system model” and I don’t think I can do a better job.

Gene Bellinger introduced me to kumo.io and https://insightmaker.com/. With colleagues, I came up with pretty wild system models on those tools, adding more understanding every time I walked someone through the collective understanding so far. It helped me to convince a top procurement person to consider alternative contract types as per http://agilecontracts.org/. One should not ask people to review a system model by email. There is a social dynamic.

A much better way than using electronic tools, is using markers and a whiteboard. To protect the innocent, in this photograph I removed the variables and stocks. In this example, people from 5 different countries who never met 10 days previously, modelled (under my coaching) a problem, a problem that was decades old. We discovered a potential solution in one hour. We weren’t even using Scrum, it was more like a kaizen event, supported by Toyota Kata, story mapping, and system modelling.

 

Want to learn more? Check out Craig Larman’s 5–7 November 2018 Dublin Ireland class

I would argue that sometimes, at retrospectives maybe the best thing we can do is to try to better understand “the system”, and for that system modelling seems like a very good approach to me. I appreciate that the way we do this in LeSS is not as scientific from a system dynamics point of view, but it’s still very useful. And there is nothing stopping you from going further. If you do that I highly recommend you look into the full Youtube series by Dan Woodlock.

Want to learn more? Check out Craig Larman’s 5–7 November 2018 Dublin Ireland class

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