Lean-Agile & How Speed of Delivery Affects Quality.
Authors Mary and Tom Poppendieck were recently guests on the Guardian Podcast with Ryn Melberg (www.rynmelberg.com). The Guardian Podcast can be heard on iTunes, Sound Cloud and on www.rynmelberg.com. Working together as a married couple and coming from different professional backgrounds, Tom described the business partnership he and Mary enjoy as “their retirement hobby.” While many retired people pursue golf or gardening, the Poppendiecks prefer to work on Lean and Agile and have written 4 books about the topic. To learn more about them go to http://www.poppendieck.com. To see their written work visit: https://goo.gl/nAu4xf. Lean/Agile & How Speed of Delivery Affects Quality
Lean Background Lean/Agile & How Speed of Delivery Affects Quality
During the interview, Mary described how Lean was closely linked to the Toyota Motor Company. Before being so named, Lean emphasized customer value and the elimination of wasteful practices and waste in general. “Toyota was a startup that was short on capital but still trying to make money but with fewer customers,” Mary said. “Toyota delivered fewer cars than other manufacturers, but that more deliberate pace led to production of better quality cars.” The performance gaps between Toyota and other car-makers were highlighted in 1990 in the book The Machine that Changed the World, where the term “lean” production was coined. But that pace did not apply universally.
The concept of lean is broad and used across many industries. “When you apply Lean concepts across other industries, you get a form of Agile,” Tom said. “Lean is the theory that explains how agile works and the mindset to achieve objectives. Agile principles are good but limited and of little help outside of software development. Lean adds perspective to how people in groups work better together.” Lean/Agile & How Speed of Delivery Affects Quality
Combining Lean & Agile
Speed to market is a competitive advantage. Mary stated that faster production led to better quality. “If you look at Agile processes and find they are not quite working, it is probably because you did not really understand what was supposed to work or why and that you are stuck,” Mary said. “Lean will say get back to basics, and deliver value in a rapid flow. Plus, a faster delivery means it is less likely the product specs will change. Very rapid delivery is a more stable way to go if you have the protections in place see what happens and make small changes.”
Toyota provides another example. The Toyota way of doing things is not written down because it constantly changes. “The core of this is how they (Toyota) get better, how they train people and realize what and how the Toyota way of doing things is accomplished,” Tom said. But both Mary and Tom cautioned listeners about the merits of trying to copy what Toyota did. The value of original or custom made Lean/Agile solutions for enterprise is a key concept for both Mary and Tom. “You can get ideas from others, but these will solve problems that work for them,” Tom said. So, copying someone else will not solve your problems. But learn from them and apply these in a context for your company.”
Lean/Agile & How Speed of Delivery Affects Quality