Tools for Improvement by Dennis Britton


Gentle Introduction to Agile

Fun tutorial and introductions to basic agile concepts, forms and practices:  

Lean In

Lean improvement videos

Here’s a deep dive into lean thinking that covers the Essentials

Agile Software Teams/Engineering/Scaling/Assessment


Scaling Agile Engineering


Mob Programming

Fading Problems with Mobs 

Organizational Agility

  • McKinsey Survey spells it out for org units that are startup/trapped/agile/ 
  • The Spotify Squad/Guild/Tribe example
  • The Kanban Movement and Limited Work In Progress (WIP) movement. I really like this simplified approach to organizational improvement. It was canonized by David Anderson who popularized RAD or Rapid Application Development. There are some great links and a Prezi you can use in this article . 

Lean Startup, Discovery, Emergence and Innovation

IDEO On Design thinking

The lean startup

Lean Canvas

On Being Adaptive People and Organizations, on Being More Effective

Conscious Business Video (careful, video plays with audio right away after click)

Conscious Business Defined

Reinventing organizations Ken Wilber Integral Mapping

Otto Sharmer from MIT Labs on Upgrading our Systemic Operating Systems

Presencing as a way to create change/the future


Tools for Visualizing and Measuring the work and ensuring Real Time Connection of People

Trello  is awesome and also a simple type of Kanban especially with plugins that allow WIP limits and lean analytics. Doesn’t allow for swimlanes though.

this is best Kanban board for professional use that I have found. Allows swimlanes, vertical and horizontal Kanban.

Pivotal Tracker is a  scrum centric board for software development. Does what Jira and Rally does but without the cruft. Better for startups and small teams/orgs.

Online collaboration platform great for running online ideation and decision making. Games that get work done!

Online sticky/white board for visual conversations/virtual meetings

Instant Chat with easy to create channels is essential to keeping the question/response time to a few seconds even when you are sitting next to each other. (noisy environment/passing long strings of text)

Webex/Zoom/Skype/ for video/audio/screen sharing. All 3 works fine.

History and Theory

Deming is the master statistician that helped rebuild Japanese manufacturing after WWII and inspired the TPS, Toyota Production System that embodies lean thinking. PDCA: Plan Do Check Act cycle.

theory of constraints is the  Essential way of understanding and affecting systemic change in organizations or simply problem solving complicated systems 

Toyota Production System -- Goal: Highest Quality, Lowest Cost, Shortest Lead Time


  Comparison of PSM and CSM and other certs read Lucas Smith's excellent comparison on this page

Local Meetups

SF Bay Area

Lean Startup Circle in SF

Largest meetup for agile in the South Bay/Silicon Valley Agile Leadership Network (cofounded this one with Monica Yap and Stacey Louis)

Largest agile Meetup in SF: Bay Area Agile Leadership Network

East bay but focuses more on software QA 

Lean Coffees are great for beginners to learn on a variety of topics and get questions answered 

Agile Silicon Valley is sponsored by cPrime, a project management focused consulting/recruiter

Sillicon Valley Engineering Leadership is for engineering managers, includes lots of hardware folks. Run by Sam Hahn and Ron Lichty.  Highly recommended for you. 

Gateway is a new agile meetup in SF 

East bay Agile

Lean User Experience in SF


Also look at your local meetups: is the largest.

Lean coffees are usually very accessible to beginners

Here’s one in Lincoln:

Please join Kerri Lake and Myself in Bringing Consciousness to Work in the East Bay by Dennis Britton

I'm excited to be co-leading a workshop with Kerri Lake on Bringing Consciousness to Work. We will be sharing exciting techniques to amplify and maintain our whole sense of being even when at work. We will be kindly hosted by the folks at Tri-Valley/ East Bay Agile Leadership Network in Dublin at Workday.

Join us!


7 Activities and 27 Actions for the Highly Effective Manager by Dennis Britton

1. Establish teams

  • Hire based on character first
  • Provide team space that encourages collaboration
  • Allow for natural team formation and growth such as Shu Ha Ri and Form/Storm/Norm
  • Provide basic process that facilitates the flow of value like Lean Kanban and Scrum
  • Groom teams and individuals using pairing and just in time training for full-stack, cross-functional, build-anything teams
  • Provide opportunities for teams to manage interdependencies
  • Prevent cherry-picking and poaching by the rest of the organization
  • Establishing working conditions that draw or generate the kind of talent and productivity needed


2. Establish Process and Culture

  • Aim for a balance of creating sustainable teams and delivering customer value
  • Consult with advisors and thought leaders to discover areas of improvement for the greatest impact
  • Support team-informed decisions on standardization of tools, technology and process
  • Host lunch and learns, conferences, workshops and trainings
  • Sponsor newsletters and articles
  • Remind leadership how the competition is using these processes to win in the marketplace


3. Advocate for the team

  • Listen and respond promptly to issues raised in team retrospectives
  • Defend the invaluable assets of sustainable teams and processes when budgets or deadlines threaten


4. Establish Customer Connection

  • Sponsor a Customer Advisory Board
  • Ensure feedback from customers gets the timely attention it deserves


5. Bridge Product Groups, Departments & Specialties

  • Create events and seed cross-functional teams to unify Design (UX), Business (Sales and Marketing) and Engineering (Dev, Quality, Tech Support , IT)
  • Prioritize features and products across programs


6. Align Values with Actions

  • Choose which customers to serve and products to build which best support the company mission


7. Model Servant Leadership

  • Invert the usual command and control methods, listen to the people doing the work about the needs of their work, then decide and act.
  • Provide a safe environment for learning and empirical experimentation
  • Removing impediments to flow of value (and information for that matter)
  • Provide a counter-force to local optimization, reveal the system to itself
  • Allow them semi-autonomy to exercise their own leadership

Catch the Lean Canvas Experience at Agile Camp in San Jose by Dennis Britton

i'll be teaching Lean Canvas at Agile Camp in San Jose this Saturday. The conference looks even better this spring with Keynoters: Luke Hohmann of Conteneo (Serious Games), Ryan Martens of Rally Software and David Anderson of LeanKanban Inc. If you want a chance to get your idea picked, come on time to my session in the fantastic Lean Innovation track, third session at 2pm. Ash Maurya has promised me a discount code for his upcoming 2 day Lean Canvas workshop for every attendee.