Lean Anti-Patterns: Overview

June 12, 2007 — Posted by Jim Trott

Listen to the podcastLean Anti-Patterns: Overview

It doesn’t have to be this way. Haven’t you felt that in your tummy sometimes? You and your team end up doing the same thing again and again, and you just get the same results again and again. And here you are again, starting out on that familiar path and it is going to be painful again. Around and around. That is an “anti-pattern”: Repeated patterns of work and behavior that produce counterproductive results.

Alan Shalloway has been training companies across the country in lean for software development.

As he has been working with clients to help them implement lean, he has heard many of these similar stories and problems. After hearing some symptoms, he can often identify more fundamental, root issues because he has built up a mental library of these anti-patterns. Giving names to the problems, Alan and his clients discover they can delve into solutions more quickly.

Alan has come to see the study of anti-patterns as very important for learning lean. In the West, people can usually identify what is going wrong much more quickly than they can see what to do right. Anti-patterns gives you the ability to discuss the “what’s wrong” without dropping into whining or complaining. They also give a common discussion point around why the lean principles are so important: when you violate the principle, this is what happens. Together, this helps management understand what needs to change and why it is important.

Based on this, Alan and I have begun to write a book called Lean Anti-Patterns and what to do about them. This book has six or seven parts and future podcasts will cover each of these parts.

  • A quick overview of lean. There are a lot of great books, so this will be fast. Poppendieck. Womack and Jones. Liker. Fast-flexible-flow. How to get ideas in and get product out. How to deliver fast. Integrating the notions.
  • Lean Anti-Patterns. Anti-pattern that violates lean principles is a lean anti-pattern. What is the principle that it violates and why that is a problem
  • Anti-patterns in management. Patterns that are structural, process, customer-focused, the stuff that management must deal with all the time. This podcast will focus on one in particular: having too many projects.
  • Technical anti-patterns. Not problems in coding, but but anti-patterns that occur in the technical team. Example: Delays in coding.
  • Things that result from the anti-pattern. This discusses the symptoms that you likely to see when there is an anti-pattern. Tempting to think these are causative, but usually they are signs of deeper issues. Example is thrashing. Teams thrash when multi-tasking, get caught up not getting anything done. That is not the cause of the problem; instead, being caused by too many projects. If you keep doing what you keep doing, you are going to keep getting what you keep getting.
  • Transitioning to lean. Lean is one of things that are simple but not easy. Find an easy gain to have. Little deeper. How keep it going. Book recommendations. What is the high level roadmap?

Anti-patterns help management and workers work together to see beyond the current state to see what can change. No longer victims.

In Addition

Alan is working on two other projects that support this book effort.

  • Webinars. First, he is developing a series of webinars that will take a deeper cut into the topic.
  • Online. Second, he is developing a series of online learning opportunities. The nature of lean requires learning a lot. A 2-3 day intensive course is good for teams, but maybe for individuals, it is more effective to do this over time, giving you time to think.
    If you are interested in this book or these trainings, send note to Alan at alshall@netobjectives.com

Personal Note

On a personal note: Today, I am wishing a happy 25th wedding anniversary to my lovely bride! Amazing, still!

Recommendations - Training by Net Objectives

Music used in this podcast is by Kevin McLeod: http://www.incompetech.com/. I changed to the new tune just because it made me happy. Kevin has some great samples going up there all the time. If you need music - royalty free (Creative Commons) then I'd encourage you to subscribe to his feed.

For more information, contact info@netobjectives.com or visit us at https://www.netobjectives.com

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About the author | Jim Trott

Jim Trott is a senior consultant for Net Objectives. He has used object-oriented and pattern-based analysis techniques throughout his 20 year career in knowledge management and knowledge engineering. He is the co-author of Design Patterns Explained: A New Perspective on Object-Oriented Design, Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility, and the Lean-Agile Pocket Guide for Scrum Teams.


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