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Muda

Muda

Muda, or wasted effort, is one of the three types of Waste outlined by Taiichi Ohno in his seminal book, The Toyota Production System. (See the second slide for a breakdown of all three forms of Waste.) Ohno’s work captured the essence of what is called Lean manufacturing in the West. He wrote that the first step in applying the Toyota production system is a simple idea: identify and eliminate waste. Before you go about inventing new processes or a structural overhaul, just eliminate the waste in the system you have and you will both see a dramatic improvement in productivity and your process will fundamentally change. In Scrum, we often think of waste as embodied within Impediments.

Muda is just one of the three types of Waste Ohno identified. Muri and Mura are the others and are equally important. However, regardless of the type of waste, it is important to identify, track and remove it.

Ohno broke Muda down into 7 categories:

Making more of something than will actually sell. In manufacturing this is like having a widget plant make ten percent more widgets than the market will consume. That extra production is just pure waste. Money tied up in product, not helping to add value to the organization.

In new product development this waste happens when teams don’t follow the 80/20 Rule (The idea that 80% of a project’s value is in 20% of its features.) It is the Product Owner’s responsibility to correctly Assign Business Value to backlog items so the team does not work on features that may never be used and have little or no customer value. A strong Definition of Done will also help prevent team members from doing more work than is needed to produce a valuable feature.

Overproduction also comes into play when deciding on the Minimum Viable Product (MVP.) Often Teams want to put too much into the MVP, and struggle to realize that the MVP should only include the highest value features. Its important to get those features into a releasable product so the Team can get feedback early in the development process and ensure they won’t waste time and effort creating unnecessary features.

The simple fact that a process exists is waste. In a perfect platonic world there would be no process, each product would flow seamlessly from idea to delivery without any formal process. That, of course, is not how the real world operates. We have to have some process but too often organizations fall in love with process itself and forget about the product. The process is what becomes important, not what is delivered to the customer.

Over-detailed documentation, unnecessary management overhead tasks, and excessive reporting are the most common examples of this type of waste. Organizations have legal and functional reasons for requiring process and documentation but it is important that these activities help create business value and aren’t in place to protect individuals or are simply outdated.

In a traditional production environment, transportation waste is created when moving work in process back-and-forth rather than between contiguous workstations. Every single step a worker has to take to move a product from one machine to another is waste. There’s going to be some, but it should be ruthlessly minimized. A famous example was when Toyota took over the NUMMI automotive plant from GM. One gigantic multi-ton machine was fifty or so feet out of its optimum position. GM just worked around it. Toyota got every employee in the plant to lift the machine with only human muscle and move it those fifty feet. Stopping production for the couple of hours paid off by removing those minutes of waste inherent in the previous layout.

In a creative environment it is typically created by overly frequent and poorly coordinated handoffs between team members. Waste incurs when the team member taking over has to come up to speed on something because they don’t have all the relevant information the previous person did.

This is often associated with context switching, or what most people refer to as Multi-Tasking. Research shows that context switching creates incredible amounts of waste as the brain sets aside the knowledge needed to perform one task and accesses what it needs to perform the next. This can originate with an individual Team member frequently switching between different User-Stories or Teams switching between projects. Choose a job, complete it and then move on. The first slide has a break down of how much waste is created switching between jobs. If you are a fan of Multi-Tasking, once you've seen the first slide up-top, you won't be.
This has it roots in the idea that if a machine is waiting for another machine to finish its job, each minute the first machine isn’t working is waste. In Scrum, if a Team isn’t well cross-trained, a lot of time can be wasted waiting on a Team member to complete a job no one else can do. Poor communication can also create delays if a Team member has to wait on a critical piece of information. And, in a traditional manufacturing setting, if an important piece of hardware hasn’t been delivered, the entire enterprise might have to wait until it arrives. The key to eliminating waiting is minimizing dependencies on expertise, information or materials.
Software developers are familiar with this form of Muda. If a Team isn’t creating daily clean code, a lot of time can be wasted going back to fix bugs. Regardless of the industry, going back to correct mistakes creates waste. Errors can be limited by building quality control into the development process so that issues are discovered and corrected at the point of origin.

We cannot stress strongly enough the importance of addressing bugs quickly and on the same day they are discovered, and if you’re doing continuous integration, on the same day they are created. Research has shown that fixing a bug a week later can add a factor of 24 to the time it takes to fix it. In other words, fix a bug today, and it will take an hour, fix it in a week it will take three days.

A Sustainable Pace can also limit errors. It allows the Team time to correct the root cause of issues rather than treat the symptoms. And, doing difficult activities early and often helps the Team get better at them. Train for the hard stuff and it isn’t so hard.

In Scrum this is called Work in Process, often shorthanded as WIP, and occurs when team’s work all items in their Sprint Backlog simultaneously but are unable to move them to Done by the end of the Sprint. Teams that consistently fail to get all items done incur waste because those incomplete features could be creating value by meeting customers’ needs. Customers would also be able to provide feedback on the completed features helping the team better refine the product, perhaps limiting future waste.

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HICSS 2016 – Call for Papers

HICSS 2016 – Call for Papers

HICSS is one of the top conferences in paper citation index rankings. This means papers will be seen and used by researchers worldwide more than papers from other conferences. All HICSS papers are published in the IEEE Digital Library and are FREE to download, so accepted papers are accessible to everyone for the rest of time. No other conference gives you the same distribution of your ideas. Plus it is held Kauai in January. Write, publish, vacation!

For more details visit their web site at Hicss.org

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Live Online Courses will be Free

Live Online Courses will be Free

At Scrum Inc. we've been broadcasting live online courses every month for over two years. In fact this week's course on Retrospectives was our 29th. Until now, we've been charging $50/course. While we've experimented a few times with broadcasting the live event for free, it's never been our policy. However, starting with next month's webinar on Getting Done, we will offer the live broadcast for free forever.

If you want access to the recording and slides, those can be found on ScrumLab Prime. Prime is a $50/month offering but allows access to all Scrum Inc. content. This includes all previous and future online courses as well as a vast array of multi-media content that covers advanced patterns and topics.

Checkout ScrumLab Prime for free as well. Simply use the coupon: FREE MONTH.

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Scrum Inc. Heads Back to the Valley

Scrum Inc. Heads Back to the Valley

This past fall I visited some of the biggest tech players in Silicon Valley (PayPal, Twitter, Salesforce, Wallmart.com etc.) There were two take-a-ways from those visits. First, people, mostly leadership, wanted to know how to scale their Scrum implementations; and second, teams weren’t getting testing done inside the Sprint.

I’m heading back to the Valley in mid February to teach both a public CSM and CSPO course as well as a one day Scaling workshop and I plan to address these two issues head on.

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