Using Lean Thinking to Align People, Process, and Practices

Alan Shalloway, Net Objectives

The operational structure of many organizations fails to support their software development teams. Continuously creating and reforming teams, isolating development from the organization, lack of participation by customers, and rapid task switching cause huge amounts of waste in development. Although agile development practices have made great strides in the last ten years, they have largely ignored the issue of the structure of the organization. "Lean Thinking" is the shorthand phrase for the paradigm, thought processes, and principles that Toyota follows in producing high quality cars at low cost-with a faster development cycle than their competitors. Software development is not exactly like manufacturing, but the principles of Lean Thinking-optimizing the whole, eliminating waste, and respecting people-apply equally well to software development. Alan Shalloway illustrates how the principles and tools of Lean Thinking can be used both inside and outside your team. Teams can use Lean to focus on quickly creating business value in a sustainable process. Organizations can use Lean Thinking to restructure themselves to ensure that software development teams operate efficiently.

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