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InfoQ Homepage News Mary and Tom Poppendieck Discuss Their Next Book

Mary and Tom Poppendieck Discuss Their Next Book

Bob Payne, east-coast consultant and Scrum trainer, has released more podcasts from the Agile2006 Conference. Visit his Agile Toolkit Podcasts site for an interview with Mary and Tom Poppendieck, authors of "Lean Software Development", who discuss their upcoming book Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash, due out this autumn.

The new book focuses even more on software development than the first, presenting wisdom developed while teaching on Lean Software Development for the past three years. Mary summarizes it as "So you think that Agile is a good idea: now what?"  and says it will help people get started with Lean and Agile, going beyond the recipes of the first book to provide practical information and case studies to help teams and managers do their own process experiments.

Why does the book address both management and developers? Tom makes an interesting point... "...the design activity that really matters, that determines whether you will make any money (or save any money)... is the design of the business process, that is, the design of the product that the software is embedded in.  If you don't arrange the work so that that design activity is supported as well as the software design activity is supported by Agile software processes, you're not going to produce anything very valuable. And simply saying, 'well, that's the Product Owner's or the customer's responsibility to work that out' is kind of a cop-out."  As in the book, when they teach, Mary and Tom always combine a management workshop with a technical workshop.

Lean is not new - the Toyota Production System has been around for decades, so why do we need another book on Lean? Mary reminds us that in general, books on Lean are written from the point of view of manufacturing, and that software is inherently very different: whereas an assembly line is relatively stable, development is all about learning, and so Lean Software work is different from Lean Production, though based on the same principles.

Need some motivation? Mary sums it up: "We are trying to get our product to customers so fast that they don't have time to change their minds." The podcast contains all this and plenty more from Mary and Tom.

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