Thursday, 8 April 2010

Tips from the Greatest Leader I Know...

So, my Dad's led quite a few people to various ends: in business, in local government, in military action, in sport and as a Dad. A slightly tipsy conversation with him this evening on the topic of leadership provided a rich seam of simple rules and maxims that will stick in my mind.
You have to inspire people
The secret is delegation
Good leaders sit back and let others come up with the ideas
What are you doing to prioritise your day?
People won't follow you if you're not confident about where you're going
The first thing to do is talk to everyone
If you don't give people the chance to fail, you deny them the opportunity to grow
Now, you'll no doubt reckon that I'll have an extremely biassed view of my Dad's leadership qualities. After all, my desire to please him is built in from year zero, so I can't comment on how or why he's succeeded in raising the bar for me and helping me to meet it. I think I can say for sure though, that there's a lot of years experience and wisdom crammed into those few pithy comments.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Why 5S Applies to Software Engineering

I've heard a few comments lately about how the Toyota Way practice of 5S is not really applicable to software development. The argument usually goes along the lines of:
We don't need to tidy up: everything we do is inside a computer.
This worried me for some time, but I only recently realised exactly what the problem is with this: 5S is not about tidying up, it is about minimising waste.

In relation to the manufacture of auto-mobiles, Taichi Ohno identified seven wastes:
  • Overproduction
  • Unnecessary transport
  • Inventory
  • Excessive motion
  • Defects
  • Over-processing
  • Waiting
There have been additionally proposed fundamental wastes in businesses, most notably:
  • Goods that don't meet user demand
  • Unused human potential
In software development, only some of the physical wastes at first seem to apply, but I suggest that almost ALL of the wastes apply to software development. Just think about it.