Wave 1

Enabling Emergent Betterness Through Lean Procrastination

Session Leader Names: Olaf Lewitz, Matt Barcomb

Duration: 60min/90min/120min

(can reduce # of activities to lessen time)

Audience Level: Practicing

Session Style: Workshop

Lean Procrastination is an emergent approach to decision making which aims to decouple and decompose the batch size of decisions in order to create a fluid ecosystem that allows available capacity and valuable options to meet naturally in a more optimal phase space.

Practitioners of Lean Procrastination use an amalgamation of Real Options, Distributed Cognition, Lean Startup concepts as well as other tools to enable Deliberate Discovery and Drive, leading to the flexible and effective creation of value. They achieve validated learning by using fast feedback loops and real metrics and they lead by example during lean-agile transformations.

In this tutorial, Matt and Olaf share their ideas and experiences about using Lean Procrastination techniques to support agile transitions at any level within an organisation. Learn how Lean Procrastination serves as an enabler for lasting cultural change, making possible Agile Budgeting, Innovation Accounting, Lean Portfolio Management and, Organisational Kanban.

Join Olaf and Matt for a menagerie of practical exercises and all new interactive games such as Black Jack Pivoting, Words of Uncertainty, Too Late Success Stories, and whatever else they invent until June :)

Learning outcomes


Real Options: How to frame decision-making so that as many choices are left open as long as possible, and by actually investing a little time now better decisions can be made with real data. These concepts apply at every level of decision-making; from organizing a product backlog to budgeting for an organization’s project portfolio.

LeanStartup Concepts: Applying the art of experimentation to the enterprise, along with the concepts of real metrics and validated learning. This is key to the real options being real, not simply anecdotal, and provides an empirical base to empirical process control.

Intrinsic Motivators: Blending in the concepts of Drive (autonomy, mastery & purpose) to maintain a humanistic approach to applying these concepts across teams of individuals. These principles also play into how organizations could possibly re-organize or change employee incentive programs.


Distributed Cognition: More than just using a network to filter information, distributed cognition is more inline with outsourcing brainpower. Teams, and even entire departments, can use this concept to delay the addition of features, architectural designs and generally uphold progressive elaboration of many aspects of a product.

Deliberate Discovery: This concept blends with Real Options, and can be thought of as paying in advance to learn more in order to make better decisions later.


The 90-min workshop is based on the 4C’s approach described by Sharon Bowman in Training from the Back of the Room. Both Matt and Dave have extensive experience in facilitating highly interactive training sessions, and are devotees of learning through doing in an environment tuned to audience needs.

C1 - Connection [10 mins] We start with a quick Tribe exercise to understand the audience’s affinity for the three key concepts: Real Options, LeanStartup and Intrinsic Motivators, before a Walk & Talk to share understanding and capture questions

C2 - Concepts [25 mins] Using a combination of self-learning methods (Self-Correcting Worksheets, Blackout Bingo…) and a short series of slides, we provide a whistle-stop tour of the three underlying concepts and the key takeaways from each concept.

C3 - Concrete Practice [45 mins] Selecting one of the exercises showcased in previous conferences (e.g. Black Jack Pivoting, Words of Uncertainty, Too Late Success Stories), we take the audience through the exercise in detail, putting Lean Procrastination into practice and providing a hands-on experience of Deliberate Cognition and Distributed Cognition

C4 - Conclusions [10 mins] A short Pair Share followed by a final Standing Survey to consolidate learnings and share observations and key learnings

A 120-min workshop would provide a more in-depth experience, with the possibility to try out more of the exercises mentioned, and provide a little more time to understand and apply the concepts. However, we feel that the 90-min format still provides an opportunity for an intense, playful and learning-packed session.

Session Leader Backgrounds:

Matt Barcomb (@mattbarcomb) is passionate about building collaborative, cross-functional teams; enjoys being out-of-doors; loves punning; and thrives on guiding organizations towards holistic, sustainable, emergent improvement. Matt started programming as a wee lad and eventually wound up getting paid for it. It took him nearly 10 years before he realized that the "people problem" was the biggest issue facing most software development. Since then he has spent his time and energy trying to find interesting ways of making the business-software universe a better place to work, play and do business. Matt currently resides in Cleveland and is employed with LeanDog where he keeps especially busy with organizational transformations, and shares his insights on his blog http://blog.risingtideharbor.com/.

Olaf Lewitz:

I am an agile42 Coach, Lean Procrastinator and Linchpin.

I’m passionate about making business better instead of busier.

“Prepare to be surprised” is a motto I live and work by (and it goes both ways!).

As a coach, my motto is that of NannyMcPhee:

"When you need me, but do not want me, I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go."

You can find me on Twitter as @OlafLewitz. I blog at http://hhgttg.de/blog/.

Session History:

This session seems to be ever-evolving. LeanProcrastination was "conceived" by Marc Bless and Olaf in late 2010 and gained momentum at XPDays Germany. Games were run around the concept at Play4Agile and Agile2011 last year by Marc and Dave Sharrock. At ALE2011 Rini van Solingen inspired application to the enterprise. Matt amplified that application during Agile Coach Camp US and will have been presented as a workshop at Roots with Ivana Gancheva, giving it yet another evolution!


Submitted by

Session Leader Name(s): Olaf Lewitz & Matt Barcomb

Stage: Accepted

Feedback Score

18 votes

Idea Details

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Similar Ideas [ 3 ]


  1. Status Changed from Active to Accepted
  2. The idea was posted


  1. Comment
    Carlton Nettleton
    ( Moderator )

    I give this a 5 out of 10 (10 being perfect)

    I like that you are talking about meaty topics in Lean Thinking. I also like this is an evolving talk that has been given in other forums before.

    What would make it perfect is a description of what is going to happen in the allotted time. I know both of the presenters through their reputation, however I don't feel comfortable giving them from 90 mins to 2 hours based on their reputation alone. If the session was around 60 minutes and described how the time would be used in more details, it would be pretty close to perfect.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      Matt Barcomb ( Idea Submitter )

      Hey Carlton, thanks for the feedback. I agree with you totally and have rounded out the learning objectives and the session mechanics. We've been actively collaborating on this very thing, but I've been a-slackin' on updating this here...thanks for the reminder :)

    2. Comment
      Carlton Nettleton
      ( Moderator )

      Nice update - based on the changes I give this a 8 out of 10 (10 being perfect)

      I really like that you explained what is going to happen in each stage. I really like that you are leveraging the 4C's. I really like that you have broken out the main learnings and sub learnings - it shows that you have really thought this through. I also like that you are committing to the shorter timeframe of 90 minutes.

      The only thing that would make it perfect is if you could run the session in 60 minutes. I see why you need 90 minutes, but perfect to me is 60 minutes. Overall, VERY good session.

  2. Comment
    ( Moderator )

    I agree with Carlton that if Olaf and you could make it into a 60 minute time frame because in my experience most people fizzled after 40 minutes. This is a good topic and I am sure the practitioners in attendance would learn your workshop and port it to their Agile practices.

  3. Comment
    Matt Barcomb ( Idea Submitter )

    We can certainly do something in 60 minutes. It will just mean only one, maybe two activities...but you'll get the best ones ;)

  4. Comment

    I like the idea of applying lean techniques to agile transformation. I have attended sessions by both Matt and Olaf and this sounds really interesting to me.

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