Friday, November 30, 2007

Role of Leadership Mary Poppendieck

Leading Lean Software Development: Results Are not the PointAt Agile 2007, Mary Poppendieck gave a talk entitled ‘The Role of Leadership’. Mary started out with a little history going back to 1911 and the book ‘Principles of Scientific Management’ by Fredrick Winslow Taylor. The book came out about the same time as the 1st Ford assembly line of 1913 and addressed how to make workers more efficient. Mary totally disagrees with the book. Its premise is that workers will do as little as possible, do not care about quality and are not smart enough to know the best way to do the job. To improve efficiency, experts need to define the best way to do a job by breaking down the job into parts and finding the best way to do each part. Workers get paid extra to follow the method determined by the expert. The workers are very happy because they get a higher pay and the employers are very happy because they get higher profit. A lot of these early management thoughts have made their way into current western management practices.

Next Mary covers Charles Allen and his 4 step method of industrial training (Preparation, Presentation, Application, and Testing). To train, get ready and figure out the job, present it and have them do it then do some testing to make sure they know how to do it and follow up on a regular basis until the workers get it. If the learner hasn’t learned then the teacher hasn’t taught. On job training is the best. Let’s train supervisors and teach them how to train the people working for them and cascade it down. This method was tested in the war and proved successful.

20 years later (1940), there was another war and Training Within Industry (TWI) was used. It adapted Allen’s approach to take an incredibly inexperienced workforce and train them. The idea was to train line supervisors 1st by teaching them on job instruction (how to train), job methods (how to improve), and relations (how to treat people/solve problems). The method resulted in impressive productivity, but was abandoned in the US after the war ended. However, it got exported to Japan to help rebuild the economy.

The premise of TWI is the 5 skills of a good supervisor:
1. Knowledge of work: Have to know how to do the job.
2. Knowledge of responsibility: Have to understand policy, regulation, rules, etc
3. Skill in instructing: Have to be skillful instructors to pass knowledge onto others.
4. Skill in improving methods to enhance quality and quantity
5. Skill in leading

Next Mary moves to 1950 and the Toyota Production System. Taiichi Ohno studied US auto manufacturing and realized that Japan has to improve its manufacturing to catch up with the US but also realized that Japanese workers are not dumb and can figure out the best way to do the job without being told. The Toyota Production System was based on 3 keys:

1. Just in Time flow: eliminate waste, don’t do anything that does not add value overproduction is the worst waste

2. Stop the line culture: If something is wrong, stop and fix it. This results in a mistake proof the process

3. Relentless improvements: learn through experiments

Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to CashOhno view on Standard Work was that standard work should be changed constantly. They are step up arbitrarily by humans so how can they not be changed. When creating standard work it will be difficult to establish a standard if you are trying to achieve the ‘best way’. This is a mistake. Document what you are doing now. If you make it better than it is Kaizen. If not, and you established the best possible way, then the motivation for kaizen is gone. So when setting standards, set poor standards as a way to motivate people by having them feeling and saying ‘we made it better’. You want people to follow the decisions they made and not the ones made for them. Write dates on standard work sheet to ensure they keep changing.

Mary then moves to 1980 and summarizes Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge:

1. Appreciation for the system. Look at the whole thing, suppliers, producers, and customer.

2. Knowledge of variation: common cause variation vs. special cause variation. Most variations are common cause and have more than 1 cause: picking out one and pretending it’s the cause is nonsense. Have to look at the whole system. Change the system instead of blaming individual workers.

3. Theory of knowledge: Hypothesis, experiment, learn, incorporate knowledge. Do a couple of experiment, use data, then see if it works and make it a system in your company

4. Psychology – numbers are nice, but do not use it to motivate people. Instead use skill, pride, expertise, confidence and cooperation.

Next Mary discusses respecting people and gives the example of three stone cutters that are asked what are you building. The 1st says ‘I’m cutting stones’, the 2nd says ‘I’m earning a living’, and the 3rd says ‘I’m building a cathedral’ as he envisions the whole process and the end result of his work. Mary explains her litmus test to see if we have cathedral builders: If a worker is annoyed by the job does the worker complain (stone cutters), ignore (earning a living) or fix (cathedral builders)? She recommends moving responsibility and decision making to the lowest possible level.

Mary then discusses the chart of leadership from the Toyota Way book by Jeffery Liker. The chart contains 4 quadrants:

1. Bureaucratic managers: follow rules

2. Task managers: here is what to do and how to do it

3. Group facilitators: you are empowered. (they do not know how to do the work).

4. Builder of learning organizations: Here is our purpose and direction, I will guide and coach

Toyota leaders fall in the 4th quadrant and know how to do the work they supervise and push the decision down. They guide and coach.

Next Mary covers John Shook and his 3 models of leadership
1. Dictator model: Do it my way
2. Empowerment: Do it your way
3. Lean: Follow me and lets figure this out together

A leader’s job at Toyota is to be a teacher. The leader should know how to do the job. If not they should surround themselves with job experts that can do the teaching. They should get each person to take initiative, to solve problems and to improve their job. They should ensure that each person’s job is aligned to provide value for the customer and prosperity for the company. Make sure people are in the right job.

Mary then defines value as a deep understanding of the job the customer wants done and the right technology to do the job. The question is who decides? If everyone gets to vote, then no one is responsible for the outcome (I did not vote for it, I got out voted). If we are marketing by checklist, then we are just getting everything the competition has (a me too product). To produce really great products, there needs to be a person behind it with great empathy for the customer, insight into what is technically possible, and the ability to sort out between what is essential and what is incidental. An example of such a person is the 3M product champion or Toyota Chief Engineer. They are responsible for business success, have deep understanding of the customer, develop product concept, create high level design, set schedule, understand what customers will value and convey this to engineers, arbitrate tradeoffs when necessary, and defend the vision.

Mary then defines the 5 fundamental software development leadership roles:
1. Marketing Leader: Business responsibility, customer understanding, release planning, tradeoffs
2. Technical leader: System architecture, Technical guidance
3. Functional leader: Job instruction, method improvement, job alignment
4. Process Leader: Process Coach
5. Project Leader: funding, tracking

The Marketing leader and technical leader are the product champions. If more than one person is filling this role, then they should be working very closely together (joined at the hip).

Next Mary discusses the Matrix organization and Horizontal versus Vertical. Lean mangers think horizontally. In Lean, horizontal flow of value is in the foreground. It is from the time the customer has a problem until it is solved. It has to flow through as fast as possible. You only want to add value. You do not want have any delay. You do not want to build up inventory, documentation, etc. However, functions are still strong: they are repositories of deep technical knowledge, the home base for employees, and guardians of career paths. One solution to the 2 boss problem is to negotiate between value stream leader and function head about what is needed from the function to support the product. Then, the employee has only one boss and it is the function head.

Finally Mary talks about the leadership team that is going to support all of this. She again stresses that we are not building software, but we are building a complete product. She presents ZARA as a success story. Then she talks about leadership alignment and refers to Clayton Christensen’s article ‘From Tools of Cooperation and Change’ that concludes that for organizations to perform brilliantly there are 2 prerequisites:
1. Everyone on management team needs to agree on what they want.
2. Everyone has to agree on cause and effect.

Mary proceeds to discuss possible misalignment in leadership, presenting 2 points of view in different areas:
1. Cost cutting:
  • a. Cut cost out of each department: easy, can easily interfere with overall waste reduction
  •  b. Eliminate waste between departments: difficult, may not even result in lower department costs but can give spectacular results
2. Conformance to plan:
  • a. Plan is a commitment: the plan is right even though it was made when we had the least info
  •  b. Planning is indispensable but plan are useless: delay until the last responsible moment.
3. Work standards:
  • a. Purpose of standards is to make possible for anyone to do any job (followed not changed)
  • b. The purpose of standards is to provide a baseline for the team to change
4. Utilization:
  • a. Need full utilization of expensive resources (team cannot stay intact as people are reassigned to multiple tasks. Large queue of work help keep people busy)
  • b. Impossible to move rapidly without slack (keeping team intact increases productivity and preserve team learning. Batch and queue mentality is the biggest determine to system wide performance)
5. Accountability:
  • a. Span of control: hold people for what they can control: reward individuals, foster competition. Technical team is responsible for technical success. Business team is responsible for business success.
  • b. Span of influence: hold people for what they can influence: measure at team level, foster collaboration. Team includes technical and business people, and team is responsible for business success.
6. Measurement (you get what you measure, you can’t measure everything, stuff falls between the cracks):
  • a. Decomposition: you add more measurements to get local sub-optimization. (Quality and customer satisfaction fall between the cracks. Measure these too).
  • b. Aggregation: measure up one level to get global optimization. Measure business case realization instead.
  • c. Balance Sheet thinking: What is the break up value of the company (delay does not mater, Just in case is wise, work in process has value)
  • d. Cash flow thinking: How long does it take to convert capital into cash (delay creates waste, JIT is wiser, work in process is waste)
  • e. Use measurements as levers to improve performance. Make sure you use the right measurements (velocity is a measurement of capacity not performance)
  • f. Use measurement to improve the system.
Mary concludes by discussing process or people. She quotes the chairman of Toyota, Fujio Cho:”We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes. Our competitors get average results from brilliant people working around broken processes.” She then relates this to Deming and his advice to change the system. Most of the problems are a result of multiple influences. It cannot be attributed to a single cause. Most problems are from the system not the people. She wraps up with the Toyota Production System (TPS) also known as People thinking system: Just In Time Flow, Stop the line, relentless improvement, and respect the people.

This presentation is available on InfoQ at