Christian Glück joined ERNI in November 2017 as a Senior Consultant. A year later he had been promoted to Principal Consultant and also took over the Service “Agile Transformation and DevOps” as their leader. Christian joined his first Scrum Team at the start of his professional career as a Software Developer with various programming languages under his belt and a scope ranging from measurement equipment to standalone internal development tools. Later he changed to Project Management, leading software as well as interdisciplinary teams and transforming them into Scrum teams. Based on those experiences, he changed to the role of an Agile Coach, supporting teams as well as organisations.
How did you come across this book?
This book was recommended to me by our owner Daniel Erni, and I must admit it is one of the best books I have read so far. It talks about what is lean and what is not. The main idea is that lean is a trade-off between resource and flow efficiency and you need to find a way how to define and reach your sweet spot. Therefore, the book mainly deals with this efficiency paradox and the influences on these.
Have you read a lot of books dealing with agile? Why was this special?
Lean is a widespread philosophy, but also one that is often misunderstood. This book is more about the mindset and less about the processes – that is what I like about it. You have to change your mindset to get change, and you always need to consider where your system boundaries are – are you focusing on a team, a team of teams or on an organisational level?
What did you like best about the book?
The book deals widely with the concept of the efficiency paradox – of what organisations perceive as being efficient and if that is truly efficient. Many companies focus on resource efficiency, and this can lead to even more work, depending on the amount of variations you’ve got to deal with. The book shows that the more you strive for resource efficiency, the more inefficient you can become due to the higher amount of additional work. In short, if primary needs are not satisfied instantly, secondary needs can evolve.
What was the main thought you took from the book?
The essential thought revolves around finding the sweet spot so that you have utilised your resources to the greatest extent possible and getting the most desirable result. There are two types of efficiencies: flow efficiency and resource efficiency. Resource efficiency is the degree to which your resources are used, where 100% can be achieved if there are no variations and everything is known upfront. Flow efficiency is about getting something through the system as fast as possible without any interruptions, where the end-to-end lead time is equal to the sum of all involved cycle times, so basically no wait time.
Can a lean mindset be learned?
The mindset is a continuous process of learning. Lean is a philosophy less than a process or a method. You cannot optimise the method; the philosophy has to be deeply rooted.
How did the book influence you?
It influenced me as it speaks not about methods and tools, but rather prompts you to think about what you want to reach and on which level. The tool itself plays a less important role; I do not use it based on its intended purpose. I have to think about what I want to achieve in its entire complexity.
Do you have an example of what you have used in your daily practice?
I always use it in considering what I want to achieve, keeping the end result in sight. That is what I also focus on with customers. If a customer says they want to introduce Scrum, I always ask why they want to do it and what they want to achieve with it. The majority of the decision makers know their challenges, but do not know the solution. So, in the end they are very happy when I point out a tool for a solution.
Would you recommend the book to your fellow agile coaches?
Yes, definitely – in each agile coaching presentation I give, I have a slide included recommending this book. When talking about the values and principles of any framework, I use a quote out of this book. It perfectly describes what values, principles, methods and tools are. But I won’t spoil it here, you should read the book 😊