Lean Question and Answers

Questions and Answers

This page is a result of an interview concerning the use of Lean in Software Development. You may find it useful when deciding when to introduce Lean in your company.

1. How would you define lean development?

Lean Software Development is a process control toolkit. Each company must find the right way to use the toolkit.

2. What percentage of developers do you think are using Lean Development approach?
There are currently 2 danish software companies using Lean and talking about it - one is Rehsco of course. There are some more companies is Germany, but these are often companies where production and software processes are both part of the resulting product.

3. How has the usage increased from previous years?
Software developers who deliver software to production companies will first adopt Lean. When you see it work you want to copy the process and use it in your company.

4. Why do you think the usage has increased?
It is easier to use a toolkit than using a theoretical description and change your company accordingly.

5. How do you expect the usage to be in the next five years?
There will certainly be an increase in the number of people using it. In the short run only companies in specific fields will take Lean in.

6. Have you found resistance or pessimistic thinking towards Lean usage?
A LOT. When people are used to work alone on projects or the company does not encourage the forming of teams, then you end up with people you think their method is the only one which works. This method is often the so-called "code and fix" method.

7. What kind of unintended results have you seen by using Lean?
Many companies make the mistake of rushing the process when introducing agile methodologies. It takes time to change.

8. What suggestions do you have for a shop considering Lean?
Look out for a similar company who uses Lean. By similar I mean size and culture - not necessarily a rival. Try to find a way to improve each others processes.

9. Have you seen situations were if a company could do it over, will they deploy lean differently?
No, none.

10. Can Lean development be applied to non-Agile (i.e. waterfall) methodologies?
You can and must adapt Lean to suit your companies needs. In the beginning non-agile methodologies will coexist with the new way of "doing things". After some time companies will either drop the agile approach or drop the non-agile one.

11. How difficult is it for a team to become Agile and Lean after being non-Agile?
As mentioned earlier it is often a long way for people who had no need to adapt to new situations. These people are often the biggest obstacles in introducing agile methodologies.

12. What is the unsuccessful rate of turning a development team into Lean?
None of the companies we know have dropped Lean once they changed to it.

13. What are the key indicators to tell if a team will succeed in becoming Lean?
Developers who are
- Team players
- Open minded
- Used to rapidly changing environments and demands
tend to be the ones who can embrace Lean first and fastest.

14. Is it better to be Lean and then Agile or Agile and then Lean?
Lean is a specialization in the Agile field. Hence it is better to learn the Agile way of thinking first and then find the right specialization.

15. What did I forget to ask you about lean? Is there something about lean that you consider very important that we did not discuss?
Where must the focus be when introducing Lean - In the beginning people focus too much on the toolkit - not on the project, which has to be delivered using Lean. Take a step back once in a while and ask yourself: Is my current work in favor for the project or in favor for the process?

In co-operation with Antonio Sanchez, Information Technology, California State University of Fullerton