Monday, 14 September 2009

Lean Software Development is More than a Set of Tools: Still Missing the Point?

I read an interesting post on the NetObjectives blog this morning that said:
"Lean is more than a set of tools."
I think it was still missing the point a bit. Someone had commented that we should read the various books out there on the Toyota Production System (TPS). I'm currently reading The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker and completely agree. It seems that even when clever people like those at NetObjectives look beyond the "Lean Toolkit", they simply look for more tools from other areas and see the act of being "truly lean" as being a good tool selector. Yes, that's part of what TPS and Lean Manufacturing teaches us to do, but there are some massive fundamentals that come before any of this and they are:
  • A learning culture
  • Respect for people
  • Continuous improvement (Kaizen)
Without these core principles, selecting the right tools for the job is just going through the motions without really "feeling it". Selecting the right methods is a consequence of striving for continuous improvement, not the way to go about it, and continuous improvement can only work when everyone is allowed to develop to their maximum potential and create core quality and efficiency "from within" by learning from and improving working practices on the shop floor.

Don't get me wrong, I'm on board with Lean and Agile. One of the practices referred to in the "Lean Toolkit" is to map the value stream of your production process and this is undoubtedly hugely important in attempting to reduce end-to-end production time, assessing "one piece flow" and removing waste. However, I'd like to look at Lean and Agile as some of the things I should learn and try out in order to try and improve my personal practices rather than them being the end goal.

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