Announcement: Lean Software and Systems Conference, April 21-23

21. January 2010

Atlanta 2010 Speaker

I’ll be attending the Lean Software & Systems Confence in Atlanta this April (21-23), presenting this session:

Measure for Measure: Lean Principles for Effective Metrics and Motivation

This presentation explores the nature of motivation and the place of metrics and measurement in software development, and how lean software development principles and practices shed light on motivation and metrics and how they can be used to support deep organizational improvement. We will examine the nature of motivation in terms of the four intrinsic rewards that drive positive engagement, and also how certain approaches to measuring and managing performance lead to organizational dysfunction. We will also show how the application of lean principles such as building quality into the product, respect for people and optimizing the whole enable more effective approaches to motivation and metrics in software development.

I have been interested in metrics and measurement for a while now, and concerned about how a naive understanding and application of various types of instrumentation in agile projects actually works against agile values. I said as much when I participated in the Agile Denver “Metrics in Agile” panel discussion last August. However, when applied carefully and thoughtfully, I think metrics and measurement have a great deal of value. These are some of the thoughts I will be expanding on in my session. I hope to present this session publicly at least once in Denver before April, so stay tuned.

I highly recommend this conference for anyone interested in implementing Lean software development principles in their organization. The official Twitter tag is #lssc10. I hope to see you there.

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Forbes.com Article on Scaling Agile with Lean

21. January 2010

In a new forbes.com article, “Why Lean and Agile Go Together,” Dan Woods asserts that agile succeeding at large scale requires the application Lean manufacturing principles.

It is important to note that he is talking about principles, not practices. As Mary and Tom Poppendieck point out in Implementing Lean Software Development, manufacturing is fundamentally different from the product development that occurs in software development. The difficulty is often in determining how best to map Lean principles to software development, and there are differences of opinion among the Lean software development community on how best to do this.

The article states that:

In essence, as a practical matter, good ideas from Agile are being absorbed into a new approach to software development that is more Lean than anything else. Someone else can name this phenomenon, but Lean and Agile are merging.

I would add that they must merge, and that the marriage of these two will produce something new, exciting and innovative as we move into this new decade. In my agile coaching I do my best to emphasize the need for applying Lean principles, especially as they apply to portfolio and product management. One of the major Lean concepts that helps with this is that of the value stream or, as the Poppendiecks say, the activities that occur between driving a software product idea from concept to cash.

Dan Woods has an excellent description of how the concept of value streams fits into the larger picture of Lean manufactoring.

In a Lean manufacturing system, the work is broken into a set of value streams triggered by demand signals. The output of one value stream leads to others. Value streams may be executed sequentially or in parallel as needed. Eventually, everything is combined into the product. The suppliers for materials needed are alerted through a system of just-in-time replenishment of parts and components called Kanban.

I recommend the article, particularly for those at the executive level looking for a high-level introduction to the basic ideas of agile and Lean software development. The article mentions Ryan Martens from Rally, and he makes a few comments of his own here.

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