Nine Principles

Imagine that you started working at large IT-company delivering a large, widely used an meaningful software product. Imagine you are meeting new people and they are energized and motivated and talking to them makes you feel the same way. They tell you about the way they work. It all seems very big at first, but several people tell you it works well for them and they have come to this execution scheme by continuous inspection and adaptation, made possible by one of the company values “Be Transparent”.

One of your colleagues tells you: “It might look somewhat impressive to you now, but we’ve come to this way of working together. We expect to continuously improve the way we do our work and try new things. We share snapshots of our collective process; each time we change our process we update these.”

She points to an A3 sized poster full of boxes, arrows and people. You have seen this poster in the other offices too, but it is only now that you that you actually look at it. “Look,” she says, “there is your team and that is your product, which is continuously integrated into our large, widely used an meaningful software product.” (Actually she uses the name of your software product.)

You see your team, you notice her name and you see the name of the manager that hired you. Not in a hierarchy, but within a representation of the way the actual work is performed to deliver value to your customers.

She continues. “This poster has been updated a dozen of times now; we expect to update it many times more. It will change. What we have found to change very little are the underlying principles we uncovered. About a year ago we wrote them down and although we discuss them regularly, they have barely changed.” She points at a framed A4 sized picture of a flip-over with nine principle written on it:

We follow these principles:
Take an economic view
Apply systems thinking
Assume variability; preserve options
Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles
Base milestones on objective evaluation of working systems
Visualize and limit WIP, reduces batch sizes and manage queue lengths
Apply cadence, synchronize work across domains
Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers
Decentralize decision making
The Team [1]

Imagine all this happened. How would you feel about starting to work there?

Originally published at on July 9, 2017.

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