Archive for the ‘Lean’ Category
Source: Gat, Huddleson, Bodwell and Chin, “Reformulating the Product Delivery Process“
Colleague and “partner in crime” Stephen Chin has published a post on the Inovis End-to-End Kanban System (aka Apropos) we presented at the LSSC10 conference on April 23. As readers of this blog might recall, the system tracks features through their full life-cycle from proposal to validation, ensuring actionable feedback cycles. By so doing it firmly anchors the software method in the overall business context with special attention to operational aspects such as deployment, monitoring and support.
Stephen outlines details of the forthcoming open-sourcing of Apropos as follows:
The plan for this tool is to do the initial launch of a BSD-licensed open-source version on May 22nd. This will include support for the Rally Community Edition, which is free for up to 10 users. In future releases we plan to support other Agile Lifecycle Management tools, both commercial and open-source, but will need assistance from the community to do this.
If you are interested in helping out with this project, please contact me. I will have limited bandwidth until after the initial launch, but after that would love to scale up this project with interested parties.
I really can’t wait till the 22nd. IMHO Apropos has the potential to become the leading Kanban system by the community for the community.
Figure 1: End-to-end flow slide from Reformulating the Product Delivery Process
Erik Huddleston, Walter Bodwell, Stephen Chin and I delivered a presentation at LSSC10 on the design and implementation of the end-to-end Kanban system Apropos at Inovis. The presentation highlights four key ingredients of the ‘secret sauce’ that makes Apropos so powerful:
- Stakeholder Based Investment Themes
- Business Case Management
- Upstream and Downstream WIP Limits
- Dynamic Allocations
Erik Huddleston, Walter Bodwell, Stephen Chin and I will present and demo an end-to-end Kanban system that addresses the #1 challenge modern software methods pose – reformulation of the product delivery process. We will do so the coming Friday, April 23, 10:45AM at the Lean Software and Systems Conference. Here is the abstract for our presentation/demo:
Software methods can be viewed as the glue that holds the product development process together. With Kanban, the glue is melting on both sides of the process. Traditional portfolio management systems and organizations have difficulty coping with the granularity of Kanban. Likewise, today’s product release and delivery systems and the corresponding organizational constructs are ill-equipped to effectively handle the Kanban flow.
We present a field-tested system for implementing Kanban on an end-to-end basis – from product ideation through continuous delivery. This system reformulates the deconstructed product delivery process to strike an optimal balance between planning, development and operations.
My recent post The Headlong Pursuit of Growth, and Its Aftermath applied insights from Toyota Motor Corporation to Agile methods. Among various lessons to be learned, the post highlighted the relationship between mechanism and policy:
Just like the Toyota Production System, your software method is a “vehicle” which is subject to policy decisions from above. It cannot, however, compensate for policy failures.
In other words, operational excellence in Agile methods is not a substitute for strategy/policy. It does not confer strategic freedom.
In another recent post – I Found My Voice; I did not Find My Tribe – the vicious cycle that leads to loss of passionate Agile talent was described as follows:
This “1.5” phenomenon is at the root of a vicious cycle that dilutes companies, particularly these days:
- A round of layoffs is implemented.
- Just about everyone takes notice and tries to exhibit the “proper behavior/values.”
- Folks in the “private tribe” don’t dare come out of the closet.
- The passionate person who found his/her voice in Agile is like a fish out of the water. Sooner or later he/she looks for a tribe elsewhere.
- The company becomes more diluted on folks who are willing to try new things and have the drive to make them happen.
- The products and the supporting processes continue to be mediocre.
- Goto step 1.
Reading the article Getting Toyota Out of Reverse, published in the December 18 issue of BusinessWeek, I found a fascinating linkage between the two posts:
“They say that young people are moving away from cars,” Toyoda said. “But surely it is us—the automakers—who have abandoned our passion for cars.”
One had better take notice when the president of Toyota speaks of the effects of loss of passion using phrases like “irrelevance or death” and “grasping for salvation”.
The December 12-18, 2009 issues of The Economist features a couple of fascinating articles on Toyota Motor Corporation. According to The Economist, Toyota’s President reached the following dire conclusion on the situation Toyota is facing:
Mr Toyoda’s alarm call last month appears partly to have been prompted by reading “How the Mighty Fall”, a book by Jim Collins, an American management writer, which identifies five stages of corporate decline. Mr Toyoda reckons that Toyota may already be at the fourth stage. Companies at this point, says Mr Collins, frequently still have their destinies in their own hands, but often flit from one supposed “silver bullet” strategy to another, thus accelerating towards the fate they are trying to avoid.
In the litany of things that went wrong, an interesting point is made about the Toyota Production System:
… the recalls continued and Toyota started slipping in consumer-quality surveys. A year later Consumer Reports, an influential magazine, dropped three Toyota models from its recommended list. The magazine added that it would “no longer recommend any new or redesigned Toyota-built models without reliability data on a specific design”. People within the company believe these quality problems were caused by the strain put on the fabled Toyota Production System by the headlong pursuit of growth.
Whatever Agile method you practice – Scrum, Lean, Kanban, Crystal, etc. – you need to be cognizant of three touch points with the Toyota experience reported above:
- Just like the Toyota Production System, your software method is a “vehicle” which is subject to policy decisions from above. It cannot, however, compensate for policy failures.
- If your company relentlessly pursues growth, the quality/technical debt liability it is likely to incur coud easily outweigh the benefits of growth. Consider the upside potential of growth vis-a-vis the downside of the resultant technical debt. When appropriate, monetize technical debt using the technique described in Technical Debt on Your Balance Sheet.
- In addition to monetizing the technical debt, evaluate the various kinds of risks indicated in The View From The Executive Suite. A sense of how devastating those might be is given by Toyota’s own experience:
Just as Cadillac used to be synonymous with luxury and BMW with sportiness, Toyota was a byword for quality and reliability… The danger in all of this for Toyota is that its loyal (and mostly satisfied) customers in America have long believed that the firm was different from others and thus hold it to a higher standard. The moment that Toyota is seen as just another big carmaker, a vital part of the mystique that has surrounded the brand will have been rubbed away.
Please remember – unless you work for Toyota Motor Corporation, chances are your company would not be able to take the kind of risk Toyota can.