Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Lean Software Development

I've been working in "officially" agile environments now since 2000, mainly influenced by Scrum. A while ago a I did a course on Lean Management amongst other topics and was struck by how some similar concepts (just in time, prioritised work queue, continuous reduction of waste, skilling people, empowering people) seem to be in agile.

The chance to get into my copy of Lean Software Development by Mary and Tom Poppendieck finally came along a few weeks ago after seeing it being referred to in high regard on the web and liking the essays I found on their web site: The Poppendiecks. Basically - "WOW"! This is just really really good stuff. For me it is the kind of jump (up or forward I am not sure) that Scrum makes from Agile fundamentals to real world tools that are completely understandable and easy to try.

The great thing is that they concentrate on fundamentals and then supply thinking tools to help you apply them in your context - ie, they KNOW the lesson that Best Practices are awful as it is the fundamental that must be understood and copied from one context to another to be successfully applied in the new context. Too many Best Practices have resulted in failure and too much waste for my liking!

They touch on some fundamental concepts that are important in modern software development:
- waste
- learning
- last responsible moment
- fast turnaround
- team empowerment
- perceptual and conceived integrity
- holistic view



Why I recommend Lean Software Development:
Reason 1: Identify the value chain from point of need to point of delivery - it is strongly argued by some that anything but coding for that need fulfilment is just a waste of time. IE - as per Agile - lighter weight documentation, lighter weight project management, focus on delivering real value to the client!
Reason 2: Collaboration is better - cross disciplinary people working together are more efficient AND enjoy their work more AND result in a better product AND it is cheaper AND AND AND!
Reason 3: Specific facts, graphs and examples that you can refer to when justifying reasons why you would want to try something different in your own environment, all with a firm basis in Lean Management Theory and which has been studied, well understood, and implemented by some very successful organisations ranging from Toyota to 3M for between 60 and 100 years!!

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