Agile 2008 – Tuesday sessions

Toyota Production System with Mindmapping

Kenji Hiranabe gave an introduction to mindmapping. When we were all comfortable with the tool, Kenji showed us a video of the introduction of process changes at SANYO. During the video we had to take notes using the mindmap. Our 5 root topics were: waste, process, confusion, YATAI and KAIZEN. Yatai is the practice of having multi-skilled workers complete a whole job, instead of specialized workers working at a conveyor belt. Kaizen is continuous improvement.

The process improvement approach shown was quite brutal. After visually showing how much waste was in the system, the conveyor belt was ripped out, to be replaced by Yatai workcells. The production manager was not amused: he had just been humiliated. Moreover, the new system was slower. Things get worse before they get better. The factory would not make their arranged deliveries and risked losing the trust of the customers. So, the old system was reinstated. As a concession, an experiment with one worker was allowed. An experienced worker was chosen to perform the experiment. At first, she was slower than the old system. Over the course of five days she and the engineers implemented improvements and the time to do the work came down to the level of the old system.

The advantage of the Yatai system is that multi-skilled workers see more results of their work and are less likely to become disinterested. As they are in charge of a large section of production, they can implement improvements that are less likely to be local optimizations. The Yatai system is lighter weight and more flexible than a conveyor belt-based system.

I’ve learned a new word and technique: Yatai. The (many) parallels with agile process improvement are left as an exercise for the reader.

Dwarves at work

In the afternoon Portia and I ran the “Mirror Mirror” session. There were 12 participants, which left more time for discussion and questions. We hope the participants got some value out of this session, that they got some ideas for actions to improve their personal and team effectiveness. We’ll know more once we get the retrospective and perfection game results.

Business Value: Soup to Nuts

Andy Pols and Chris Matts talked about Business Value. Many of it was familiar, but I got some new ideas for the Business Value Game and more ideas for awkward questions to ask before and during projects.

Business Value is a continuous process based on a model of value to be delivered by the project. It is a collaborative process, so start asking those difficult questions NOW.

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