TPS

Real World Kaizen in Action

In October 2012 Superstorm Sandy hit New York City.  The results are still being felt today.  Relief agencies struggled to keep up with the demand for food.  Six months later, people in Rockaways are still hungry.  Toyota will donate up to 1 million meals, if you watch this video.  You'll learn about things like Kaizen, Muda, and Toyota Production Systems. Improvements

  1. Eliminate Muda (Waste)
  2. Create continuous flow

Result?  Kaizen (Continuous Improvement) and more people getting food with less waste.

Original distribution time: 3 hours Current distribution time: 1.2 hours

Don't be a Lumbergh

I'm plugging away on my presentation "Breaking the Law of Bureaucracy" for the upcoming Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference. Though I know I should be focusing on how to break this law, I can't help but think of the organizational bureaucracies we all deal with.  Two types of people within our organizations come to mind, the Zombies and the Bill Lumberghs (from Office Space).  Yeahhhh, you know that guy or gal.  They're heavy on style and light on substance.  They are more concerned about you having a coversheet on your TPS (Total Project Status) report than they are of refining the process so you no longer need a TPS Report or a coversheet.  He or she sits in a corner office telling you how much time you have to complete the work they have estimated and committed for you.

Yeah, I'm going to need you to come in on, ohh, Saturday. We need to play catch up. Oh, and you might as well come in on Sunday too. Thannnkkss..

Bill Lumburgh and the Bobs Now that you know the type of person to look for, think of a way to lower the amount of bureaucracy you're dealing with every day.  I'm not suggesting you change the world.  Just look for one small change that is a pain-point or bottleneck for you, your team, or the organization.  In the case of being asked to come in on Saturday or Sunday, you're going to have to take control of who does the estimating.  If the people who are doing the work are the ones doing the estimates, there's a lower probability the estimates are going to be off and the team being over-committed.  Empower your team...and for the sake of us all, don't be a Lumbergh.

Mura Muri Muda

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and listen to Jeff Sutherland a few days ago. For those who do not know who Jeff is, he and Ken Schwaber created Scrum.  It was really quite amazing to listen to him speak.  The topic of the talk was Using Scrum to avoid bad CMMI implementations.

Scrum and CMMI are often at odds with each other. What does each approach bring to the table? Scrum promotes the idea of focusing on the most important product issues first and supports frequent communication. CMMI brings a structure that promotes consistency and discipline to avoid waste and rework. So, why should we try to combine both approaches? Is this combination a good idea?

Mura Muri MudaThis post isn't going to go into detail about the entire talk. Rather, there were three words Jeff said that had me scrambling for my pen. "Muri, Mura, Muda".

The Toyota Production System identifies three types of waste (Muri, Mura, Muda).

Muri (無理, “unreasonable”) is a Japanese term for overburden, unreasonableness or absurdity.

Mura (斑 or ムラ) is traditional general Japanese term for unevenness, inconsistency in physical matter or human spiritual condition.  Waste reduction is an effective way to increase profitability.

Muda (無駄) is a traditional Japanese term for an activity that is wasteful and doesn't add value or is unproductive.

With commercial organizations, I consistently see two primary goals:  [1] Make Money and [2] Save Money

But as you drill down into an organization, these two goals are not as obvious.  So, to address this, I rewrite the two goals as:  [1] Deliver Value and [2] Eliminate Waste

When we reach this point, muri, mura, muda come into play.  In your day-to-day activities, are there areas you can make more efficient or improve?  Do you really need to go to that meeting or can someone just email you an agenda before and minutes after?  In your project lifecycle, do you really need a 10-step process workflow or can you achieve the same goal with just 5 steps?

Here is a practical exercise:  Make a list of activities you have to do this week.  Ask yourself why you need to do each of those activities. Do they map back to the core mission of your company?  Should any of these activities be postponed until the goal is clarified?  Should you just NOT do one of them?

I have a daily meeting at 10:00.  Why?  I fill find out what the team did yesterday, what they are doing today, and what impediments they have.  My job is to help facilitate their activities and remove roadblocks.  This 15 minute meeting is a keeper.

I have an invite to the Finance Working Group meeting on Monday. Why? Hmmm.  That's a good questions!  The meeting is scheduled for 1hr.  I know that it traditionally lasts 2-3hrs.  No invoice was attached in the meeting invite.  That leads me to believe they are going to review 500 pages as a group.  Though it's necessary to review the invoice, this is a very inefficient way of doing it.  I will send a request for a copy of the invoice to review when I can.  I will decline the meeting invite.

Of those activities on your list, highlight which ones just don't sit well with you.  Really listen to your gut. Are any items on your list an activity that does not directly translate into providing value?  Are any items on your list going to somehow cut into your personal life?  Are any items on your list literally a waste of time, money, or energy!?  If you can scratch any one of these items off your list, you are on the road to Kaizen (改善) (English: Continuous Improvement).

Before you accept that next task or meeting invite, ask yourself if there is a better way.


HT: Wikipedia

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TPS Report

TPS Report
TPS Report

After my little diatribe titled "Project Management Theater" I had a few days to think about the less than stellar status report provided by the vendor to my customer.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized the vendor did nothing to meet the unique customer needs.  The attitude was Well, you asked for a status report. This shows status. I'm a firm believer that you need to understand who your customer is and then provide status reporting to meet their needs.  Even when using a burndown chart for a team, I usually don't show that to a C-Level. I understand that C-Levels (CEOs, COOs, CTOs...) are looking at the business more strategically.  For that reason, I offer my 50,000 foot view of the project or program.   Two years ago, when I arrived at this PMO, I looked at their Metrics Plan.  One of the things that was missing was a summary graph or chart for the Federal Senior Executives (SES). What you see above is one graphical indicator I provided to them.  What you do not see in the screen-grab is the associated data, which I made available on subsequent pages. I'd like to thank Sam Palani over at Around the CHAOS for inspiring me to write this post. His post How Worthy are Your Status Reports nailed it.

Feel free to download a copy of my original (TPS Report) template Total_Project_Status_Template

Why Ask Why

checklistBefore you spend the next week, redesigning the TPS report, you need to stop and ask yourself a simple question.

Why?

Why are you doing it?   If you can not map the task back to a stakeholder or customer objective/requirement (goal) you better stop now.  Some people call this gold-plating.  Additionally if you can not map the task back to one of your personal goals, you better stop now.  I call that flushing time down a toilet.

Do you sometimes feel like you're rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic?  Are you spending all of your time doing stuff that is not getting you any closer the real goal?  Well, stop for a minute and pretend you are a 5-year-old.

Whenever you ask a 5-year-old to do something, they never seem to do it without first asking why.

Go sit down Why?

Because it's dinner time. Why?

Because you need to eat your dinner. Why?

Because I don't want child protective services saying we don't feed you. Why?

Because we're trying to get you to adulthood without scarring you too much.

What's our main personal goal as it relates to our son?

Goal 1: Get him to adulthood without scarring him too much

Now, as project managers and leaders, what are your primary goals? Is it keep the project on schedule? Is it keep the project from going over budget? Or, is it one of the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto?  Whatever your answer(s), when asked to do something, keep asking why until you reach your main goal(s).

We want to add this change to the next deployed version Why?

Because it is now a priority Why?

Because it will either save time, money, or both

What's one of our documented goals related to our project?

Goal 1: Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

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