Lean Process Works at Toyota USA
Lean manufacturing and continuous improvement have been around for more than a quarter-century, but it seems that those implementing these ideas in traditional workplaces still fail to grasp what's really needed to get the productivity leaps they seek. Fishman quotes Steven J. Spear, a senior lecturer at MIT who has studied Toyota for more than a decade:
The work is really threefold: making cars, making cars better, and teaching everyone how to make cars better. At its Olympian best, Toyota adds one more level: It is always looking to improve the process by which it improves all the other processes.Every members of a Toyota production team is both an expert in car manufacture and an expert in process improvement. With every employee trained in, and responsible for, hunting out waste the enterprise gains a powerful grassroots tool for improvement. Kosaku Yamada, chief engineer of the Lexus ES 300 has summed it up: "The real differential between Toyota and other vehicle manufacturers is not the Toyota Production System, but the Toyota Product Development System".
These same ideas underlie the Lean Software Development movement, spearheaded by Mary and Tom Poppendieck, authors of Lean Software Development, An Agile Toolkit, and Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash. Their books provide thinking tools for building a new kind of team, that improves its own processes incrementally over time. Like the teams at Toyota, software teams using Lean Thinking have "reflection" built into their processes, time dedicated to rooting out waste and planning improvement, using ideas such as these:
Lean Software Development Principles
does not mean throw away all documentation.
does not mean keep on changing your mind.
Decide as late as possible
does not mean procrastinate.
Deliver as fast as possible
does not mean rush and do sloppy work.
Empower the team
does not mean abandon leadership.
Build integrity in
does not mean big, upfront design.
See the whole
does not mean ignore the details.
--Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck
Lean Software Development, An Agile Toolkit, p179
Expert in Process Improvement
Re: Expert in Process Improvement
Having external process groups sounds very CMMI-like and like I said very Lean-unlike.