lørdag den 2. juni 2012

Reflections from LSSC12 conference in Boston

The LSSC conference was held in Boston May 13 - May 18 at Seaport Boston Hotel

The Venue was the beautiful Seaport World Trade Center

The Lean Systems and Software conference held in Boston was a mind blowing positive experience - I am completely filled with inspirations and reflections from the conference, and I have decided to blog some of the topics here. The conference repeated the point to balance demand to capacity, which is easy to understand, and yet in everyday life often  hard to adopt to.

Overall topic: Balance demand to capacity
When we look at pictures of freeways we understand that we don't want to optimize for utilization but rather for fast throughput or low waiting time. When we use computers we understand that starting many programs at the same time competing for the ressources, at a certain point will make the throughput significantly slower. Business and projects also need to limit work in progress to capacity but is often challenged to do more. In general the advice is to either a)  increase capability, or b) reduce demand, in particular failure demand. For example by ensuring that the problems we solve, are the right problems to solve, or c) finally it was suggested that it is possible to some extend to shape the demand, for example by talking with a customer and client to discuss what the right demand is. I think this picture makes the point:

Kanban and Scrum are execellent methods for teams to visualize what the teams capacity is, and facilitates this way the creation of realistic plans. The concept of product owner in Scrum and a prioritized backlog in Scrum or prioritized tasklist in Kanban is a way to ensure that demand is reduced to the most valuable or relevant tasks.

Insights and reflections in a map
I have grouped my insights and reflections on the map below, and within the next weeks, I will write additional blogs for each topic presented here:

A. I did a two day tutorial titled "Strategic Innovation on Demand". The core point is that all innovations are about solving a problem for a customer or the environment, and this tutorial presented a great way to identify  current and future problems for customers, using a disciplined approach. Often innovation is thought of as a right brain activity, like when a musician improvises or a painter paints. This tutorial showed convincingly that  there are left brain activities, in other words structured disciplined activities, that can guide you to the points where you could exercise right brain creativity. The core message is you can use a disciplined approach to identify problems and then apply creativity in solving these problems.

B. Many of the presentations addressed  the question: "How have we validated, that we are solving the right problem?". Steven Spears talked about having expectations and be surprised, and presented the example: "How can we improve this milkshake". The example showed that even the best experts can be wrong about what the problem really is.

C. Problem Solving by professionals, was a point carried by Mary Poppendieck, and she urges implementers to reclaim responsibility for design. The presentation ended with an outstanding good discussion comparing "set-based development" and "Lean startup", expressed in the two questions: "When does it make sense to develop multiple options?" and "How do we remember what we have learned?".

D.  Another hot topic at the conference was Lean Startup. The recent focus on Lean startup creates an increasing need for projects to be able to do continuous delivery as opposed to just continuous integration and test. Lean startup provides guidance on how to validate that the right need and problem is addressed.

E. Another topic mentioned several times was flow in work. It applies to the entire value chain but is in particular an interesting topic for projects doing maintenance and operations work. Kanban can be used as a structured way to visualize work and establish explicit policies to improve flow and other lean measures.