Friday, 28 May 2010

Lean Irony

I had a side splitting moment this afternoon after receiving an e mail from a government agency, name withheld, telling us it was cancelling its procurement tender for a lean process review due to the new government cuts.

Why is this so amusing?

Well it all started before Xmas with a request for tender for some lean consulting work; having looked at the paperwork required to tender i.e. health and safety policy equal opportunities and the such; I and my associates decided to give this paper trail a miss.

Five months later we get a mail saying that none of the applying companies understood the requirement due to communication difficulties and they were starting the process all over again! Lean I think not!

The agency didn't understand what lean was, in our view, and when people who did know gave them advice it fell on deaf ears.

Would they indulge in dialogue with suppliers - no they followed their process; surprise surprise they got the wrong things offered to them.

Today the note says the process is now cancelled due to government cuts in consulting contracts. I spluttered all over the laptop screen in mirth.

So we have a Lean initiative procured in a remarkably unlean way and then it gets cut to save waste; but Lean saves waste and reduces costs how ironic is this.

Understanding of lean is not that good in this particular government agency. No wonder this country has financial problems!

Monday, 24 May 2010

A Bird in the Title DSDM Atern

The naming of a project development methodology version with the name of a species of bird hit the discussion forums this week. DSDM Atern instead of Version 5 or whatever; is apparently named after the Artic Tern a so called agile bird species.

The use of such a metaphorical version name is a bit puzzling and I do wonder whether it will further the cause or not. DSDM = Dynamic Systems Development Method is actually a pretty good approach shame about the name - an opportunity missed I think!

Shame I always liked DSDM having helped a major life insurer develop their own approach calling it something different "Hothouse" but in reality it was a variant of DSDM version 3/4 with some tweaks for bolting an agile front end for requirement definition on to a tediously slow incumbant waterfall method.

RJ Robinson comments on this @

Monday, 17 May 2010

What is in a Process

Process means different things to different people. When groups of people used to working with certain types of processes view other areas they think and act in their own image.

What do I mean?

Well, transactional process i.e. people dealing with high volume high replication activity, model measure and simulate. Data is key and they use it on occasions to the the extreme using methods like six sigma to measure slight variations in variability to eliminate defects and produce highly repeatable consistent processes.

Whilst processes in the professional area, where the activity is nearly always different in one way or another, are viewed by transactional people as "Are these really processes?" and they often try to codify the variability much to the frustration of the users who rapidly get turned off.

The theme with professional processes is that there are scenarios around a standard theme or best practice approach. Process mapping and improvement is no less valuable than "paper factory" processes; it is just different.

Learning to see and to communicate how best to do things doesn't mean necessarily turning a professional job into a production line.

The message here is appropriateness e.g.use the right approaches and tools don't impose your views or experience on areas that just happen to be different - business and process architecture is not a black and white game.

Forcing inappropriate methods on to people never reaches a satisfactory outcome.