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InfoQ Homepage News InfoQ Interview: Mary and Tom Poppendieck on using Lean for Competitive Advantage

InfoQ Interview: Mary and Tom Poppendieck on using Lean for Competitive Advantage

Mary and Tom Poppendieck are in demand around the world as speakers, coaches and consultants. In this InfoQ interview, they share lessons learned in their years of practical experience, and reveal the principles underlying Lean success in software. They address the history of Lean thinking, the value of fast delivery and deferred committment, talk about how they use of Value Stream Mapping to identify and reduce waste, and the importance of identifying and dealing well with cross-organizational and inter-organizational boundarie.

Authors of the book, Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash, the Poppendiecks are well qualified to teach software professionals about streamlining processes and making them much more effective. Mary has been in the Information Technology industry for thirty years, in both operations and new product development, managing solutions for companies in several disciplines including supply chain management, manufacturing systems, and digital media. Mary first encountered the Toyota Production System in her role as Information Systems Manager in a video tape manufacturing plant, a process which later became known as Lean Production. She implemented one of the first Just-in-Time systems (another term for Lean) in 3M, resulting in dramatic improvements in the plant's performance. Tom is an enterprise analyst and architect, and an agile process mentor. He led the development of a world-class product data management practice for a major commercial avionics manufacturer that reduced design to production transition efforts from 6 months to 6 weeks.

Mary and Tom focus on identifying real business value and enabling product teams to realize that value.  Some of the questions they address in this exclusive interview include:
  • What are the main principles behind Lean?
  • What does "waste" in software development look like?
  • Lean sounds a lot like Scrum. What's the difference? And what about RUP?
  • What is "delayed commitments", one of the principles you mentioned?
  • You include a principle to "deliver fast". Shouldn't we be "slow and more careful"?
  • Is it Lean realistic in large organizations with a lot of boundaries between departments?
  • How do you do Lean under contract?

Related news: New Book on Lean Software Offers Practical Advice

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