"Wait a minute. This sounds like rock and/or roll."

Seattle Kaizen Camp 2014

Last week I attended my fifth Kaizen Camp at The Foundry in Seattle.  As usual it was a magical experience with awesome people, exceptional food and unmatched conversations.  Kaizen Camp started as a traditional Open Space conference and through a series of…ahem…Kaizen’s it morphed to what one might call “Scaled Lean Coffee” format this time.

Our meeting space is an open banquet facility. You would think it would be too noisy with close to 100 people all talking at once, but it is surprisingly quiet. I believe there are two things that contribute to this: 1) everyone is at a round table so there is no clear leader or lecturer trying to talk over everyone, and 2) because we are all in the same room everyone is more mindful and respectful of their volume

Meeting Space

Our beautiful meeting space at The Foundry

The day started with an intro in front of the main Kanban board. We heard from a sponsor, Dashcube, who makes an impressive Lean/Agile planning tool. This is followed by Jim Benson explaining the Lean Coffee procedure.

Starting the day

Starting the day at Kaizen Camp

Next, people share their ideas while we populate the backlog.

Reviewing the backlog

Reviewing the backlog

Notice the strict limit of eight cards.  Masking tape physically limits the Work In Progress to correspond to the eight tables where the Lean Coffee sessions are held.

WIP Limit

WIP limits are good

We collectively “pull” stories into the In Progress boxes. This is an open forum where everyone bum-rushes the wall to pull their favorite story into one of the eight slots. Surprisingly this goes very smoothly. The very first session is always the busiest —  however there are typically only two or three really enthusiastic folks that run up to the board.  Everyone else waits to see what gets pulled.

Pulling Stories

Pulling Stories

Here we are at the first session discussing Scaling Agile. We decided that Agile concepts and principles scale beautifully but that prescriptive methods do not necessarily scale without tailoring. Organizations are complex and require some iteration to find a process that works.

Discussing Scaling Agile

Discussing Scaling Agile

After each session we share any epiphanies the group had before we do another “pull” to choose the next round of sessions. By the end of the day there are a LOT of epiphanies.

Sharing Epiphanies

Sharing Epiphanies

The Ephphanie Wall

The Epiphanies Wall

I recently read an excellent book I discovered at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland and hosted a session to discuss it.  It was very popular and resulted in many epiphanies. Apparently lots of us have had experiences that made this book compelling.

My Session

My Session

And finally, there was dancing.

Dancing at Kaizen Camp

Dancing at Kaizen Camp

All-in-all Kaizen Camp 2014 in Seattle was another fantastic adventure filled with intense learning, great food and even better discussion.  Keep an eye out next year and sign up if you get a chance!


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