lean software development

I recently finished reading Lean Software Development by the Poppendiecks. This book has a lot to offer in terms of practical tools to help software coaches and teams “go lean.” But I was left with an uneasy feeling at the end, which I think may be attributable to two (related) causes.

First, the approach and tools are presented as if they somehow represent “the” mapping from lean manufacturing into the software world. But surely the seven principles and twenty-two tools are only one way to perform leaner software development. And while the authors never suggest that these are in any way canonical, one is left with an impression that absolutely everyone should start from this tool-kit, and that to not do so would be to fly in the face of Toyota wisdom.

Second, the metaphor used by the Poppendiecks to relate software development to manufacturing is not explored. Can software development really be treated as an analogue to manufacturing? I believe that there is some combination of the “classic” set of manufacturing business processes that can be mapped onto software development. But that mapping is non-trivial, and when complete will not necessarily yield the picture painted by this book.

2 thoughts on “lean software development

  1. Is the Poppendiecks’ metaphor manufacturing or product development? A bit of both perhaps? I felt there was emphasis on development (ie fitness for use) over manufacturing (ie reducing variation). There’s some discussion of this in the last chapter along with an apt “warranty”.

  2. Pingback: the muda of multi-tasking « silk and spinach

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