Lean Principle #1 – Eliminate Waste

Lean Software Development Principles - Eliminate Waste.Lean software development advocates 7 lean principles, the first of which is Eliminate Waste‘.

Sounds obvious really. How many people came to work today to spend their time on waste? Some maybe! But not most. So what is waste, and how do you identify it?

Some waste is obvious. But other forms of waste are more difficult to spot or to solve. I’m sure in most organisations it’s sometimes very difficult to identify what is waste and what is not. Some processes or conventions might seem wasteful, but actually provide real value elsewhere in the organisation, or prevent other forms of waste from emerging later. Other activities may seem valuable, but actually do not really result in any real value.

As I mentioned in my opening post about the 7 Key Principles of Lean Software Development, lean development originated from lean manufacturing and the Toyota Production System in Japan. In these methods, they identified 3 general forms of waste, which they called in Japanese – ‘Muda‘ (meaning unproductive), ‘Mura‘ (unevenness, inconsistency) and ‘Muri‘ (over-burden, unreasonableness).

In doing this, they also identified 7 particular types of waste in manufacturing:

  1. Over-production
  2. Unnecessary transportation
  3. Inventory
  4. Motion
  5. Defects
  6. Over-processing
  7. Waiting

In lean software development, Tom and Mary Poppendieck translated these wastes into some things more specifically relevant to software development. For instance:

  • unnecessary code or functionality
  • starting more than can be completed
  • delay in the software development process
  • unclear or constantly changing requirements
  • bureaucracy
  • slow or ineffective communication
  • partially done work
  • defects and quality issues
  • task switching

A common agile development practice is the ‘retrospective’, which is the process of the team meeting after each short iteration to discuss what went well, what didn’t, and what could be done differently in the next iteration.

This iterative process of learning and continual improvement is an important part of identifying waste and eliminating it. In my experience this is one of the key benefits of agile software development.

Traditional software development and project management methods advocate a ‘lessons learnt’ process, but it generally takes place at the end of a project. By this time, things are forgotten, people have changed, the context has changed, and the team may be disbanding to move on to another project. As a result, the team may never really get a chance to put these learnings and changes into practice.

With agile development, these retrospectives enable the team to make small improvements regularly, and tackle changes in manageable, bite-sized pieces that can be actioned immediately.

Identifying and eliminating waste should not be a rare event conducted by process re-engineering consultants every few years. It should be a regular process, built into regular iterations, determined as much as possible by the team, and tackled in small, timely steps.

Making improvements little-but-often in this way creates a culture of continuous improvement – a learning environment – which for some organisations could potentially give you the edge over competitors.

So if you’re not doing it already, I urge you to hold regular retrospectives. This is one agile development practice I can heartily recommend. Try to foster lively but healthy debate, critical but constructive feedback, and try to drive out meaningful and actionable improvements that actually help you to frequently identify and, more importantly, eliminate waste.

Kelly.

7 Key Principles of Lean Software Development:

1. Eliminate Waste
2. Build Quality In
3. Create Knowledge
4. Defer Commitment
5. Deliver Fast
6. Respect People
7. Optimise The Whole

 

Photo by David Enker

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

In The Zone with Marcin Zasepa

Welcome to the second in our new series, ‘in the zone’, a collection of conversations with CTO’s within the CTO Zone community. Each week we’ll be discussing the latest trends, insights gained from there experiences, and future predictions for their industry. This week we’d like to welcome Marcin Zasepa, CTO at Homegate AG in Switzerland. Every episode will be approximately 30 minutes

Read More »

In The Zone with Sasha Bilton

Welcome to the first in our new series, ‘in the zone’, a collection of conversations with CTO’s within the CTO Zone community. Each week we’ll be discussing the latest trends, insights gained from there experiences, and future predictions for their industry. This week we’d like to welcome Sasha Bilton. Every episode will be approximately 30 minutes long, and we aim

Read More »

Case Study: DAZN Data Engineering

Find out how 101 Ways helped DAZN improve their existing data warehouse as well as planning and setting the foundations of the new cloud-based data platform. Click here to download the full case study. Get in touch with a member of the 101 Ways team if you would like to discuss ways in which we can help you and your company

Read More »

Search the Blog

Agile Management Made Easy!

All About Agile

By Kelly Waters

“’Agile’ is one of the biggest buzzwords of the last decade. Agile methods often come across as rather more complicated than they really are. This book is an attempt to unravel that complexity. To simplify the concepts. This book breaks the concepts into small bite-sized pieces that are easy to understand and easy to implement and delivers the message in a friendly and conversational style. Allaboutagile.com is one of the most popular blogs about agile on the web. ”

Kelly Waters

Agile 101 is available to purchase. GAME ON!

Agile 101

Emma Hopkinson-Spark

“Whilst there are lots of ways you can vary the game depending on the teams you have and the learning outcomes you want, the basic flow of the game play is common to all.”
Emma Hopkinson-Spark

Why did we make the game?

How to play the game?

London

101 Ways Limited
41 Corsham Street
London
N1 6DR
United Kingdom

Manchester

101 Ways Limited
No.1 Spinningfields
Quay Street
Manchester
M3 3JE
United Kingdom

Amsterdam

101 Ways BV
Weesperstraat 61-105
1018 VN Amsterdam
Netherlands

Contact Us

If you would like to get in touch with one of the team at 101 Ways, then please fill out the form below or email us at contact-us@101ways.com.