Table of Content:

LAND Guide

Figure 1: MMF Workflow

Purpose of LAND – Lean-Agile Network Diagram

LAND is a Lean-Agile knowledge base that was created by Izi Peled to help organizations accelerate value delivery and reduce process waste. Based on the Agile values & principles LAND drives organizations to achieve high level of Agility and redefine a culture that encourages excellency that will allow the organization to create value within a short lead time.  LAND is a proven knowledge base that can be adopted by various organizations, from startups to large enterprises. The Lean-Agile process presented by LAND is a generic and flexible process that can be adjusted based on organizational needs and constraints.

LAND overview

Value Delivery is a complex task. It involves large number of activities that must be effectively coordinated in order to deliver value. Value delivery is even more complex if more than one team is involved. Coordination becomes crucial when many teams are working together on the same backlog. Communication is becoming crucial if team members that are doing work that affects each other are not on the same collocated team. Since we are dealing with Value delivery, when approaching a new organization is it recommended to do an initial Value Stream Mapping – VSM, which identifies the existing value delivery stream. This VSM is based on 4 levels:

  1. Value delivery Process
  2. Communication – what the communication lines are
  3. Operational data – time, quality etc.
  4. Timeline – cycle time of every stage

Putting all the above in a graphical view will create a Network Diagram which graphically depicts the tasks and dependencies of the value creation stream. Based on the Lean-Agile values and principles we’ll analyze the existing VSM and try to make it as effective as possible. That is the reason this knowledge base is called Lean-Agile Network Diagram – LAND.

Consequently, organizations need to adopt a new thinking that is taking into consideration the three following pillars:

  • People – teams at all levels of the organization. From the first team member to the last senior manager
  • Methodology – Clear value creation process that will enhance the organizational alignment and its visibility
  • Organizational culture that fosters open communication and innovation

Based on these pillars and Lean-Agile thinking, LAND is offering a value creation process that has managed to successfully deal with value delivery challenges, improve value delivery and the prediction of cost and delivery time.

LAND Framework

The basic unit of value creation in LAND knowledgebase is arranged in a form of an MMF Minimal Value Unit:

  • Minimal – the smallest possible features
  • Marketable – provides significant business value to the customer
  • Feature – something that is observable to the user

LAND differentiates between three elementary terms:

  1. Business Requirement – a requirement that creates new value to the customer. This may be new functionality of modifying an existing functionality
  2. Technical Requirement (Enabler) – a requirement that reduces the technical debt. This may be code refactoring, developing new infrastructure, resolving production bugs etc.
  3. Solution – the solution that was designed and implemented to accomplish the Business/Technical requirement

Business requirement usually will be initiated by the business stake holders whereas technical requirement and solution will be usually initiated by the development teams.

MMF is a business requirement that represent the smallest possible increment that has a real value to the customer. Once inserted to the backlog every MMF will contain:

  • Business requirement description
  • high level solution
  • Definition of Start (DoS) – what should be ready before we start the work on the MMF
  • Acceptance criteria (e.g. do the right thing)
  • Definition of Done DoD (e.g. do the thing right).

MMFs make the best unit of planning for releases/projects. Organizations should manage a single backlog in which all MMFs will be stored and prioritized. During the backlog refinement, MMFs are constantly added, sized and prioritized. This will allow a relentless flow of MMFs (that is, value units) towards the development teams (some will call it “feed the beast…”).

At the beginning of the implementation, in every organization special attention is given to discuss how the MMF should be defined. In some cases, MMF is based purely on business requirement. In other cases, MMF will be more “solution oriented”. This is more likely to happen in integrated systems.

In adherence to the Lean-Agile thinking there are several principles that will be incorporated in the organization and constitute the basis for a new language. The principles are:

  • The project/product content will be decomposed into the smallest business requirements that create value for customers – MMF: Minimal Value Unit
  • Solution design, sizing and implementation will be at the MMF level
  • A project/release is a collection of MMFs and should be as small as possible
  • The organization will follow only a clear order of priorities defined by the business stakeholders
  • Focus will be on “Must Have” MMFs rather than “Nice to have” MMFs
  • Because the process combines lean management ideas that are focused on reducing waste, the teams we will not start working on an MMF before:
    • It is understood and ready for development – Definition of Ready
    • All predecessors are done before the teams start working on it – Definition of Start
  • Work on the MMF will be in small batches (that is, short project/release) to generate fast value to the customers – the focus is on TTV – “Time to Value” and not on TTM – “Time to Market”
  • At each Batch conclusion, a “Retrospective” will be carried out

LAND assumes that since the organization works in small value units (MMFs) that are sized separately and managed in small batches (short projects/versions), the accuracy of the sizing will be higher, and the total error margin of the entire project will be smaller. Moreover, if time and cost estimates are inaccurate, it is discovered very early in the process. In addition, the ability to respond to changes is higher because the organization concentrates on small MMFs and if a change is requested it will usually affect a future MMF and therefore the waste will be minimal.

Every organization can work in MMFs, whether it works in methods such as Scrum or a hybrid organization (combining several methods). In the software industry MMF will be represented by a Features.

An organization that speaks the Value language can size and manage its projects more accurately and reduce waste.

LAND Value Stream

Every process has a waste. It is unavoidable. LAND is focused on reducing waste to the minimum possible. LAND Value Stream is comprised of seven steps by which value is created. Each MMF will be in one of seven states, from the business requirement definition towards launching of a new system capability (Figure 1). New value can be either a new capability or modifying an existing capability. MMF will be shifted from one state to another till value is created. Within each state the MMF will go through several steps that generates a fruitful discussion between the stakeholders.

Based on a Lean-Agile value stream, MMF will shift to the next step only if:

  1. The MMF is highly prioritized (that is, part of the “must have”)
  2. The MMF has gone through all steps in a specific stage

The MMF states are:

  • New – The default state when a new MMF is inserted to the system. After following all steps of the “New” state, the MMF is sized at a high-level and may be planned into a release in case it is a high-priority MMF. This estimate is usually not far from reality since we already know a lot about the MMF at this point.
  • Analysis – In this state the MMF is analyzed based on the inputs from the business stakeholders. After following all steps of this state, MMF will be analyzed, sized at low-level and decomposed into User Stories. User stories are clear to the teams and sized. At the end of the analysis stage, the MMF’s sizing is more accurate. Low-level sizing may be compared to the high-level sizing for improvement purposes. At this point Definition of Start – DoS may not be materialized.
  • Ready for DevMMF is ready for development and tests. All User stories are Ready for Dev. At this point Definition of Start – DoS may is materialized. Teams will work on its User stories that will be serving the MMF to create value. MMF will be delivered to the customer after demo is accepted.
  • In Progress – Teams are working on the user stories of the MMF. During this state teams may work in Scrum, Kanban or any other methodology they choose, as long as they deliver a working MMF. The section Scrum in LAND elaborates on how we Scrum the Lean-Agile way.
  • Completed – Development and Tests of the MMF are completed. MMF is ready for Demo.
  • Accepted – Demo was done and MMF is accepted by Product Owner/Product Manager. Accepted means the development of the MMF complies with the business requirement.
  • General AvailabilityMMF was launched and added new value to the customer.

This Lean-Agile value stream will allow organizations to understand very early in the process what the complexity and the size of the MMF is and therefore what the realistic scope of the project is. Organizations practicing this process become value-oriented organization and experience substantial waste reduction.

In order to start practicing LAND the organization will have to start speaking the Value language that is based on MMFs. If the entire organization speaks the same language and prioritization is managed in one place there is a high probability that the organization will concentrate on the must have MMFs and in creating real value. No matter which methodology the team is practicing (e.g. scrum, Kanban or any other practice), organizational lean-agile process will enhance the focus on value creation. This is a form of hybrid organization.