Home > Articles > Software Development & Management > Agile

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

The Fabric of Lean

Lean principles are woven throughout this book, just as they must be woven throughout the fabric of an organization with a lean mindset.

Chapter 1: The Purpose of Business emphasizes the principle Optimize the Whole, taking the Shareholder Value Theory to task for the short-term thinking it produces. The alternative is to Focus on Customers, whose loyalty determines the long-term success of any business. It is one thing for business leaders to have a vision of who their customers are, but quite another to put the work systems in place to serve those customers well. In the end, the front-line workers in a company are the ones who make or break the customer experience.

It turns out that the “rational” thinking behind the Shareholder Value Theory has had a strong influence on the way workers are treated. It all boils down to Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X assumes that people don’t like work and will do as little as possible. Theory Y assumes the opposite: Most people are eager to work and want to do a good job. The lean principle Energize Workers is solidly based on Theory Y—start with the assumption that workers care about their company and their customers, and this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The principle of reciprocity is at work here—if you treat workers well, they will treat customers well, and customers will reward the company with their business.

Reciprocity was the basis of human cooperation long before money was invented, and it remains central to human behavior today. However, reciprocity is local. It depends on group (or team) size, team member engagement, and norms for creating and enforcing mutual obligations. When designing work systems that Energize Workers and help them Focus on Customers, leverage the power of peers, rather than incentives, to steer behavior in the right direction.

Chapter 2: Energized Workers is based on the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who found that the most energizing human experience is pursuing a well-framed challenge. Energized workers have a purpose that is larger than the company and a direct line of sight between their effort and achieving that purpose. They strive to reach their full potential through challenging work that requires increasing skill and expertise. They thrive on the right kind of challenge—a challenge that is not so easy as to be boring and not so hard as to be discouraging, a challenge that appeals to aspirations or to duty, depending on the “regulatory fit.”

Regulatory fit is a theory that says some people (and some companies—startups, for example) are biased toward action and experimentation and respond well to aspirational challenges. Other people (and companies—big ones, for example) prefer to be safe rather than sorry. For them, challenges that focus on duty and failure prevention are more inspiring. But either way, a challenge that is well matched to the people and the situation is one of the best ways to energize workers.

One of the most important challenges in a lean environment is to Constantly Improve. Whether it is a long-term journey to improve product development practices or an ongoing fault injection practice to hone emergency response skills, striving to constantly get better engages teams and brings out the best in people.

Chapter 3: Delighted Customers urges readers to Focus on Customers, understand what they really need, and make sure that the right products and services are developed. This is the first step in the quest to Eliminate Waste, especially in software development, where building the wrong thing is the biggest waste of all.

Some products present extraordinary technical challenges—inventing the airplane or finding wicked problems in a large data management system. Other products need insightful design in order to really solve customer problems. Before diving into development, it is important to Learn First to understand the essential system issues and customer problems before attempting to solve them.

When developing a product, it is important to look beyond what customers ask for, because working from a list of requirements is not likely to create products that customers love. Instead, leaders like GE Healthcare’s Doug Dietz, who saw a terrified child approach his MRI scanner, understand that a product is not finished until the customer experience is as well designed as the hardware and software.

Great products are designed by teams that are able to empathize with customers, ask the right questions, identify critical problems, examine multiple possibilities, and then develop products and services that delight customers.

Chapter 4: Genuine Efficiency starts by emphasizing that authentic, sustainable efficiency does not mean layoffs, low costs, and controlling work systems. Development is only a small portion of a product’s life cycle, but it has a massive influence on the product’s success. It is folly to cut corners in development only to end up with costly or underperforming products in the end. Those who Optimize the Whole understand that in product development, efficiency is first and foremost about building the right thing.

Two case studies from Ericsson Networks demonstrate that small batches, rapid flow, autonomous feature teams, and pull from the market can dramatically increase both predictability and time to market on large products. Here we see the lean principles of Focus on Customers, Deliver Fast, Energize Workers, and Build Quality In at work.

A case study from CareerBuilder further emphasizes how focusing on the principle of Deliver Fast leads to every other lean principle, especially Build Quality In and Focus on Customers. A look at Lean Startup techniques shows that constant experiments by the product team can rapidly refine the business model for a new product as well as uncover its most important features. Here the lean principles of Optimize the Whole, Deliver Fast, and Keep Getting Better are particularly apparent.

Finally, a discussion of how Spotify develops products summarizes most of the lean principles one more time, with a particular emphasis on customer focus, data-driven experiments, empowered teams, and rapid feedback.

Chapter 5: Breakthrough Innovation starts with a cautionary tale about how vulnerable businesses are—even simple businesses like newspapers can lose their major source of revenue seemingly overnight. But disruptive technologies don’t usually change things quite that fast; threatened companies are usually blind to the threat until it’s too late. How can it be that industry after industry is overrun with disruptive innovation and incumbent companies are unable to respond?

The problem, it seems, is too much focus on today’s operations—maybe even too much focus on the lean principle of Eliminate Waste—and not enough focus on the bigger picture, on Optimize the Whole. Too much focus on adding features for today’s customers and not enough focus on potential customers who need lower prices and fewer features. Too much focus on predictability and not enough focus on experimentation. Too much focus on productivity and not enough focus on impact. Too much focus on the efficiency of centralization and not enough appreciation for the resiliency of decentralization.

Lean organizations appreciate that the real knowledge resides at the place where work is done, in the teams that develop the products, in the customers who are struggling with problems. Several case studies—including Harman, Intuit, and GE Healthcare—show how the lean principles of Focus on Customers, Energize Workers, Learn First, and Deliver Fast help companies develop breakthrough innovations before they get blindsided by someone else’s disruptive innovations.

Developing a lean mindset is a process that takes time and deliberate practice, just like developing any other kind of expertise. No matter how well you “know” the ideas presented in this book, actually using them in your work on a day-to-day basis requires that you spend time trying the ideas out, experimenting with them, making mistakes, and learning.

Cultivating a lean mindset—especially in an organization—is a continuing journey. We hope this book brings you another step along the path.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020