I, like many others, have been head deep into lean methodologies such as kaizen, kanban, 5S, value streams and lean in general. As I continue to learn and practice these things, I’m going to start publishing, much like Laribee is with his focus on Kanban, in order to gain feedback and ideas. I’m going to cover things in a bit more general matter than just approaching one methodology, but hope to hit on them all.
Today I just want to give a primer into lean so those of you who haven’t done much reading into it have a foundation from which we will build.
When you hear lean, its difficult not to throw the word efficiency into every sentence under discussion. Efficiency is a metric and is easily measured for most things. If your car is rated to get 20 MPG and you are achieving only 15 MPG, then your car is 75% efficient as it relates to its gas mileage.
Efficiency has its counterpart, however, and this is waste. Many people will tell you lean is about eliminating waste, but that is not entirely true. Lean is about improving efficiency, and waste elimination is typical the least expensive, most effective way to improve efficiency, but its not the only thing. Thus, don’t focus soley on waste elimination, but on the improvement of efficiency itself. For developers, obvious waste is easy to spot. Phone calls, emails, ESPN.com and things of the like are main culprits. You have to stop and ask yourself and evaluate each activity: does this activity help me achieve my goal for the day as it pertains to adding value to my client/product/service etc. Identify – correct – sustain.
Kanban, as Dave has been implementing, is one system that helps with waste elimination by having a feedback loop and a continuous work flow by pulling downstream from upstream and current status evaluations. Other methodologies have different principles behind them, but to achieve the same goals, and I will be talking about those as they each are forms of lean used to Identify Inefficiencies – Make Corrections – Sustain Positive Process Improvements.
Lean literature is everywhere. Take some of the keywords I’ve talked about here and search the web for them. You’ll find lots of great information.