Home > Articles

This chapter is from the book

Jack Sprat Could Eat No Fat

Lean thinking—lean development, lean IT principles, and so on—is a good thing. Its origins can usually be traced, one way or another, to Toyota’s Production System, and that in turn came from earlier work. The intention here is not to chant, “think lean” and “eliminate waste,” but to make something useful from the underpinning ideas.

Naturally, we would all like to be lean and eliminate as much waste as possible. However, that’s about the same as saying “eat a healthy diet.” We all know that’s admirable, but what is a “healthy diet,” and how do we ensure that we are eating one? Our intention here is to see what you can do to enhance your lean thinking while going about your daily discovery and delivery tasks.

We shall use the Japanese words that are normally employed when talking about waste and its elimination.

Muda is waste. And in a moment, we’ll look at the types of waste. But knowing these types is not necessarily useful unless we know what causes them and what we can do to stop causing them.

Let’s start with Muda and its contributors. You will find variations on these names if you look through the literature, but nothing so fundamental as to divert our cause here. We’ll use the list that reveals the cute initial letter acronym DOWNTIME.

  • Defects—The time taken to remove defects is waste. This indicates that we should try to produce things that do not contain defects.

  • Overproduction—Producing things that are not needed by the customer or the product and add no value. For our purposes, this means that there must be a relentless focus on rationale, justification, and prioritization. If the justification for anything is weak or its priority is low, it usually indicates that it’s not needed.

  • Waiting—This is the delay while waiting for some upstream process to finish or to deliver a needed artifact. This could be because discovery is taking too long, delivery has started too soon, or your planning lacks the correct understanding of what must be done.

  • Nonused talent—It is obviously wasteful to have capable people sitting idly by or not being used where their talents indicate they should be. This is either a team problem in which the self-organizing team fails to recognize its own talents, or management is treating people as interchangeable components.

  • Transport—At Toyota, this means moving car components unnecessarily from one place to another. In your case, it is hand-offs, or having to move discovery and delivery artifacts between groups. Colocated teams usually eliminate this kind of waste by collaborating on the artifacts. For example, the story map contains artifacts from a number of sources and reduces the need to move them.

  • Inventory—This one has more to do with factory production, but having discovery or delivery artifacts completed long before they are needed counts as inventory. This kind of waste is usually overcome with better planning and prioritization.

  • Motion—This is unnecessary movement of team members and stakeholders. This should also be taken to mean the wasted motion that comes from too much fragmentation of people’s tasks or having people participating in too many concurrent projects.

  • Excess processing—This kind of waste comes from doing things the hard way, the long way, or doing too many things upfront that are not needed. We do not need to elaborate on overelaborate development processes. You have almost finished reading a book on how to make your own process as lean, nimble, and effective as possible.

It ought to be that we can easily spot most of the things on the list and eliminate them. But it’s not quite that simple. There are two other factors that contribute to a lack of leanness.

  • Mura is unevenness and how it disrupts production.

  • Muri is overburden or unreasonable demands made on production.

Consider the cause-and-effect diagram shown in Figure 7.9. Here we see the three components of waste—Muda, Mura and Muri—and the effect they have on each other.

Figure 7.9

Figure 7.9 The three parts of waste should be seen together if you are to use the lean ideas to improve your own processes.

Getting rid of too much Muda (waste) does not necessarily work; instead, it probably causes Muri (overburden), which reciprocates by causing Muda (waste). Mura (unevenness) causes Muda, and Muda can in turn cause Mura.

Mura (unevenness) usually comes about because of inadequate planning and organization. The result is nonused talent, overproduction, and waiting. On the other hand, unnecessary transport (moving things around) is waste, and in turn it causes unevenness.

Muri (overburden) happens when unreasonable workloads are imposed, or where the team makes poor choices regarding its desired rate of production or sprint duration. Excessive processing, excessive inventory, and excessive motion are symptoms of overburden, and they naturally cause waste. Defects are waste because they overburden the team with the need for extra work to correct them.

Eliminating waste is an ongoing, self-improvement process. The way to eliminate waste is to improve your process; in turn, your improved process eliminates waste. This is simply a natural part of constant self-improvement and is part of being an agile, flexible, nimble analyst.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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