Lean Office

While We’re Promoting Lean Author Interviews on other Blogs…

By Jon Miller Published on August 29th, 2006

Shmula is a blog with a funny sounding name (who am I to talk?) and the occasional gem of a post about Lean. There is an August 28th interview with Mary Poppendick, author of Lean Software Development and Implementing Lean Software Development.
She answered 12 questions from the readers of the Shmula blog. The questions and the content of the answers are quite good. Clocking in at over 4,000 words, it’s one of the longer blog entries I’ve seen. Note to Shmula’s Peter Abilla: Next time chop it into 1,000 word bites and serialize it so we can enjoy the goodness for days rather than all in one lump.
Mary Poppendick tackled questions on Lean software and business process improvement, as well as how to apply Lean concepts and tools such as kanban, 5S, heijunka, SMED, big room / open room / obeya, 5 why, TPM, visual workplace, queuing theory and software-specific improvement approaches such as Scrum and Agile.
I particularly like part 7 of the answer to question #8 regarding a roadmap for a successful Lean launch. While qualifying that “there is no roadmap to guarantee Lean success” Mary says:
7. Remove Accommodations: Uncover the rules that made it possible to live with the constraint. Decide what the new rules should be.
I’ve never quite heard it stated that way. Whether you call them rules, behaviors or attitudes, removing the root cause that allowed you to live with how bad things are (the current condition) is an essential reoccurrence prevention measure and a key step in Lean implementation.
Enjoy the interview.

  1. Tony Rockwell

    August 29, 2006 - 1:13 pm

    Thanks, I enjoyed this post. I agree it was a long post for a blog, but the continuity of the interview was maintained by keeping it whole. Regardless of that I wanted to comment on a portion of the topic.
    My experience working with and leading agile teams has been that 1) scrum developers like working in teams in an open environment 2) those same developers will demand some private space at times so they can work out technical challenges in a quiet area without interuption.
    To accomplish this you need different work spaces, and in opposition to your tendancy, I find that what works best is private offices (preferably with full walls and solid doors). In addition to those offices a collaborative work area that allows the developers to haul their high-powered laptops out and sit with the group to work is a must. Additionally, a separate conference room/meeting area allows for multiple activities to occur at the same time without interfering with each other.
    I personally feel that this is likely the best work cell option for lean software development. The process flows, the team spends most of their time in the open area voluntarily and the work has been efficient and effective.

  2. Jon Miller

    August 29, 2006 - 1:24 pm

    Thanks Tony. Good comments.
    I recognize that the answer is not “all open” or “all walls” offices but solutions that work for the particular type of work, transactional, creative or collaborative.
    Mobile walls are great. So are temporary walls. Load-bearing walls are inevitable, as are exterior walls in most businesses in most climates.
    It sounds like you’ve found an office arrangement that promotes Lean software development. However, I would challenge you not to think it is “likely the best work cell option”. If you think it’s the best you will never improve upon it.

  3. Pete Abilla

    July 17, 2007 - 10:26 am

    You’re absolutely right. I should have posted in a much less-batchy manner than I did. It goes to show, that some of us long-time Lean practitioners still revert back to large-batch thinking once in a while. I apologize to your readers for doing so.

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