Further Reflections on Just-In-Time

May 26, 2008 — Posted by Al Shalloway

If you haven't already read my "A Reflection on Just in Time (JIT)" I suggest you read that now, before proceeding.

I have been re-reading "The Machine That Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production." It got me thinking about how the paradigm shift from Mass Production to Lean Production is very similar to the shift from Waterfall to Agile. This is because the beliefs underlying Mass Production are fairly similar to those of Waterfall while the beliefs underlying Lean Production are fairly similar to Agile: 

Mass Production / Waterfall Beliefs

Lean Production Beliefs

  • Focus on optimizing each step
  • The process can be formalized
  • Management figures out what to do
  • Inventory is an asset
  • Flexibility is not important
  • Focus on shortening time from concept to cash
  • The process is our baseline for change
  • People doing the work figure out what to do
  • Inventory (work in progress) is a risk
  • Flexibility is essential

The beliefs in the left column very much match the beliefs behind a Waterfall process – predictable, manage from the top, independent steps. The beliefs in the right column very much match the beliefs behind Agile and Scrum. In my mind, if one understands how to make the transition from Mass Production to Lean Production, that might help us understand how to promote the transition from Waterfall thinking to Agile thinking. What's really nice here, however, is that one need observe how it has been done instead of trying to figure out how to do it.

These are lessons others have already learned – and laid out in ways for us to learn them as well.

Alan Shalloway
CEO, Net Objectives
Achieving Enterprise and Team Agility

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.



        

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