I'm reading a book called Implementing Lean Software Development. And stop saying it sucks to be me.
I promise not to tell you any more about it than you absolutely have to know to get how I got from Toyota Manufacturing to feeding teenage boys. So here goes.
Long ago (by this I mean 1949) and far away in the land of the Samurai, the Toyoda family decided they wanted to build cars as well as those that were made in America. As you probably know, they were successful, and by the mid-1980s, we were eating Toyota's dust. The company did it by developing and implementing the Lean Manufacturing System which emphasized the elimination of "waste", defined as anything that the customer did not value. There are seven deadly wastes in Lean Manufacturing that translate into seven equally deadly wastes in software development: partially done work, paperwork, extra features, task switching, handoffs, delays, and defects.
That wasn't so bad was it?
I've been thinking about the wastes this weekend, which - in retrospect - probably wasn't the best idea because I've been cooking for my two perpetually hungry sons at the same time and watching one of the Jurassic Park sequels. The parallels are truly frightening.
Teenage young men are similar in many respects to ravenous carnivores of any epoch. They're at a disadvantage because their teeth aren't as sharp and their fingernails no longer do double-duty as knives. Yet...they still want to eat. A lot. On a regular basis. Quickly. And they prefer the flesh of something that has recently been alive.
As I was preparing dinner last night, it occurred to me that I could have made the whole feeding process much more efficient, with no noticeable loss of value to my sons, if I had simply taken the Lean approach from the very beginning. Would you like to know how? Of course you would. Read and learn.
First, eliminate extra features. By extra features I mean anything besides meat, potatoes, cheese, sour cream and soda.
Second, reduce paperwork to an absolute minimum. Translation: no napkins. That's what sleeves are for.
Third, do not require them to switch tasks. In other words, eat in the living room so there is no need to turn off the X-Box.
Fourth, limit handoffs. Ideally this would mean allowing them to spear the meat from the grill and eat it directly from the fork but since doing that requires them to divert their attention from the X-Box (above), there is a trade-off to be made. Only you can make the decision that is best for your individual circumstances.
Fifth, eliminate delays. The expectation here is that you anticipate when they will be hungry and ensure that the food magically appears at the appropriate time. And no, I haven't been into the cooking sherry. This is really how teenage guys think.
Sixth, forbid partially done work. Partially done work includes such things as an undercooked steak, potatoes that are not entirely covered by cheese and sour cream, and bread without garlic butter. You can avoid many needless trips to the fridge or microwave by keeping this simple principle in mind.
Seventh, monitor carefully for defects. Defects are things like diet soda, broccoli, and cold bread.
See how useful this was?
I love when I can take what I'm doing at work and apply it to life at home. Now, I can't wait to get to Chapter 6: Find Better Motivators than Money. I'll let you know how that works for me.