What is a Learning Organization in .NET

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Agile and provides thinking tools to help translate Lean principles into Agile practices All Lean organizations are by de nition learning organizations, because the process of identifying and removing waste requires the organizations to learn However, not all learning organizations are Lean both the Royal Dutch/Shell oil company and the US Marine Corps have been called learning organizations, yet neither is Lean let alone Agile
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222 What is a Learning Organization
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The idea of learning organizations appeared in the 1980s and grew during the 1990s The concept is somewhat nebulous, and if you ask different people, you re likely to get different answers 5 goes into more detail about learning organizations and organizational learning It is reasonably straightforward to de ne an organization In this context, such an organization is usually a company, a department or a team The organization itself doesn t need to be commercial: it could be a government unit, a hospital or a charity On rst consideration, learning is also quite straightforward Learning is the process by which we acquire new information and knowledge However, as this book argues, merely learning facts is of little use For learning to be truly useful, it must also lead to some action and some change While each of us can learn in our own particular way and act on whatever learning we like, things get more dif cult when we consider learning at the group level Not everyone will recognize the same facts, draw the same conclusions or decide on the same course of action And just because some action is decided on doesn t mean that the action is taken To build on and act on what they learn as a group, learning organizations need mechanisms Learning and acting as a group can be more dif cult than working individually As individuals, we all know how to learn and how to think; yet doing the same thing in a group can be more dif cult Members of a group need to nd new ways of learning and collectively thinking together This is what distinguishes a group from a team Agile teams need to overcome the obstacles that stop them learning together As the team improves, some problems will be beyond the boundaries of the team In order to improve further, they will need to spread the message so that those around them become Agile too Over time, Agile will spread out from software development to the wider enterprise
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23 Common Practices of Agile Teams
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There is a set of common practices found in most of the Agile methodologies These practices embody Lean principles, but are ready-made for teams to
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Understanding Agile
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adopt without needing to re-invent existing work These practices are interlocking and tend to support one another Several of the practices could be placed in more than one of the categories outlined in the following sections
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231 Quality
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As already noted, Agile development fully embraces Philip Crosby s Quality is Free argument By maintaining a high standard of work during development, faults (bugs) are signi cantly reduced, thereby reducing the amount of rework required In software development, the need to re-work adds three types of costs: rstly, all work must be extensively tested; secondly, once problems are found, re-work takes time in addition to the original work; and, thirdly, rework is disruptive Many software projects focus on completing the required feature set and then declare themselves feature complete or code complete At this point, software testing begins in earnest Each fault that is found must be xed or a lower quality accepted Yet because there s no way of knowing how many bugs will be found let alone how long it will take to x them it s impossible to predict when the software will be nished In such conditions, the number of bugs found may simply be a function of the number of testers employed More testers report more bugs, requiring more work All too often, the only way to resolve the situation is to accept a lower standard of work This adds more costs and this time the costs are borne by the customer who has to work with the product Eventually, this cost will be passed back to the producer in terms of lost orders or lower prices In order to reduce re-work and improve quality, Agile software development teams adopt a number of speci c practices:
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Code reviewing: it has long been known that one of the most successful ways of nding faults is for other developers to review the code that is written Pair programming: this is an extreme form of code reviewing Two programmers share one keyboard and screen They discuss the design and the approach: while one codes, the other reviews, and periodically the pair switch roles Pair programming is controversial for two reasons Firstly, sceptics doubt productivity claims, because both programmers could be writing code separately It is hard to quantify the productivity bene ts of pair programming However, anecdotal evidence supports the assertion that quality is improved and suggests that two programmers working together are more focused and less prone to interruptions Secondly, developers accustomed to working alone nd it dif cult to accept a co-developer This problem is compounded on small teams (less
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