Lean Thinking

Tuesday, 04 September 2018 11:15

Last Responsible Moment

Published in Agile

Probably the least understood (or most misunderstood) lean principle is "decide as late as possible". I have seen it used to justify all sorts of weird decision-making policies that generally involve never making decisions, because surely as late as possible means leaving it until the absolute last possible moment, or even later. I have seldom, if ever, seen it applied correctly. So let's take a look at this principle and see what it really means.

The other way to express this principle is "defer decisions until the last responsible moment". There are two points of confusion here. The first is what is the last responsible moment? The other is what exactly do we mean by deferring decisions? Let's look at the last responsible moment. What is the last responsible moment? Does it mean the absolute last minute? Do we leave all decisions until we are absolutely forced to make one because otherwise the whole endeavour will fall flat? No. That makes no sense at all. Leaving decisions until they are forced upon you is hardly being responsible. Does it mean making decisions early because that's the responsible thing to do? Again, no. Making decisions early isn't using the last responsible moment. The last responsible moment is a really hard thing to define, so let's not try. Let's re-word it instead. The intent of the last responsible moment is to make decisions with the maximum possible information.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Control Charts

Published in Lean

A couple of posts ago I promised you a post on Control Charts. Here it is. For those of you who have never come across these before, they are come from the field of Statistical Process Control (no... really... don't go...stay with me here... it's worth it, I promise). They provide a means of charting process data in a way that answers the single most important question you should be thinking of when looking at a chart of process data. No it's "not when can I go home?", or even "I wonder whether stabbing myself in the eye with this pencil will be more interesting?". It's – "what's normal?". When does the chart show normal variation and when does it show something I should be concerned about? Is this spike in the data something I need to investigate, or is it normal?

There are about a dozen different types of control chart for different types of data and you can use the various types to build a chart for just about any metric you choose, but for an agile project the most useful ones to chart are Velocity and Lead/Cycle Time. Even better, these two metrics use the simplest possible type of control chart – the IMR chart or Individual & Moving Range chart.

Friday, 16 August 2013 00:00

Self Organisation

Published in Agile

In the Agile world, we (and I am certainly no exception) talk a lot about Self Organisation, but what does that mean? What is this thing called Self Organisation?

Published in Scrum

I recently checked back in on a team I had started up a while back. Over the months since I had set them free they had made a few modifications to the process and in doing so had fallen into one of the most common traps I have seen teams fall into - they had made it all about the developers.

Sunday, 03 March 2013 11:00

Task Switching... And Why It's Bad

Published in Lean

OK... Imagine for a moment that I have three tasks that I need to do. Each task will take one week. The deadline to complete them all is three weeks. They are all equally important.

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