Roots of Lean – day one

I am currently on a visit to Japan to meet Toyota and representatives from Japan’s industry to learn about their challenges. Already on day one, things got really interesting.

We met today with the CEO of a Fujitsu subsidiary, specialized in software. The company is applying TPS to improve their practices. It was interesting to see that:

  • The CEO was puts improving engineering and kaizen practices on top of his agenda. He is committed and actively involved, driving improvements. In his world improvements comes first, operations second.
  • A sign of the ambition is the fact that the company employs a mathematical expert to help out with analysis. When would that happen in a western company ūüôā
  • They are experimenting a lot with estimation techniques! The technique currently favored is "Function Scale" –  a simplified version of Function Points. The technique is based on user interface design and is fast, only takes 1-2 minute compared to what a skilled function point analysis would take 30 min or more to do.

Some reflections:

  • Culture and local experiences affects solutions looked at. Turning to TPS, Kaizen and statistical process techniques for improving software products is therefore logical
  • But – using best practices based on other’s success, without thinking (what problem it was intended to solve, how this would help our situation) – is dangerous. Not only can this stop you from solving the right problem (you might be in another situation!) it can also dilute your competitiveness no longer staying ahead. Something to think about when we apply Scrum, Lean or any practice.

Anyway, a really interesting week up ahead! Tomorrow, first visit at Toyota plant, later in week , meeting the former Lexus cheif engineer Kataymy-san and the former IT manager of Toyota.

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