Muda – Waste

For those familiar with the lean approach to the work or the Toyota Way, you my already know about the concept of Muda. Muda is one of the three categories associated with lean that impact performance and costs to the organization.  Muda is regarded to have seven waste types or areas or actions that cause waste.

Over Production

Just like it sounds, making more of something than the need for that something.  This does not just mean parts, but also extends to work product deliveries throughout the work pipeline. Think SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer), in this case any output from a process (P) delivered before the depending process (C) or work can start, leaving the work product just sitting there.  Another variant of this waste would be working on products that are not for the next work process, but some prioritized work that is further down or upstream.  When this is not coordinated well, we end up with rework, and if changes are required … Continue reading

Tools and Teams

I recently saw a post on Twitter from the Great John Cutler on allow the team to pick the tools that they use to do the work.  Generally, this is not a bad idea, but not necessarily a great idea either.  It sort of depends.

 

 

My experience in companies that also have hardware parts associated with the software, each group selecting their tools comes at a great disadvantage when it comes to understanding the various work products as it moves through the organization.  It is not possible for one team to see what the other team has done, when the tools are not connected, or each group selects what that individual group needs without consideration of the departments that are depending or associated with the work.  In these cases, a product life cycle management tool that connects the various work departments and work packages can help tie all of these together. Consider a vehicle manufacturer that develops … Continue reading

My Career Part 2

Career; of Motorcycles and Trucks

This blog continues from my last post describing the first part of my career.  We continue with the tire pressure monitoring system.  In those days, and for many years before that, my preferred form of transport was motorcycle.  I had an accident a few years before taking this job that broke some bones in my wrist (not my first nor last set of broken bones), in fact I got the bike fixed and was riding it through the winter with my right hand in a cast, and with multiple socks on to keep my hand warm.  I should mention that my preferred transportation was motorcycle, at least in part, because it was my only source of transportation.  Eventually, my fourth job before my professional career started, the manager of the U-Haul at which I worked during my undergraduate education came across a wonderful, and old, Toyota station wagon complete with the fake wood siding, … Continue reading

Things that Secretly Sabotage Projects and Teams -Cognitive Bias

(Lexington, NC, September 28, 2018)  – Cognitive biases are always at work, playing dirty tricks behind our perceptions. Jon M. Quigley, Founder and Principal, Value Transformation, will address this issue in his latest presentation, “Things that Secretly Sabotage your Project and Team” to be held on Thursday, October 4, 2018 from 07:00 pm to 07:50 pm at Turbine Hall, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Project managers and teams of all organizations have experienced this common conundrum: their team members are capable, intelligent and well equipped, yet do things that appear to make no sense. The signs of bias at work here are hard to see, but that is most likely the case.

In his talk, Jon Quigley will reveal how cognitive bias impacts work, the most common biases we are likely to be affected by, and how they influence selection of strategies, team development, and other areas. The takeaway from the session will include ways to transform a group of individuals … Continue reading

Common Cause and Special Cause Variation

Variation!

Though sometimes we may refuse to recognize it, the world is a full of variation, even in the things we think or believe are constant. For example, my wife has been known to say, “you always do…” or “you never do…”, to which I retort, I am human and I am not that repeatable.  I say that, but it is not just humans that are not so repeatable.  Everything has variation, and understanding this variation, is important for product development, project management, manufacturing, product testing and so much more.  To master this work, we need to understand this variation as completely as possible.

Common and Special Cause Variation

Shewart is credited for developing the concepts of special and common cause [1].  Special cause variation, are variations that are outside of the expected (intermittent) range of possibilities. Common cause variation, are the variation expected, we know about these, these are predictable, provided we have put some effort into learning about … Continue reading

No Estimates, Business Case, and Sunk Cost

In our earlier posts, we explored abuses of estimates, and then the need for the estimates in the business prioritization or what projects shall we undertake, and securing the resources to accomplish the objective.

Business Case

In the prior blog we discussed the connection between the estimates and the business case for the work.  The business case, as we have seen, compare the costs for undertaking the project against the return or income generated.  some of these comparative approaches (IRR) allows the organization to compare the proposed project against other investments the organization could otherwise undertake with this amount of money, but in all cases we are trying to understand if the proposed project is prudent use of the organizations resources or if it is a low return and high risk endeavor.  We wold not want to spend $1Million to make $250 Thousand.

Estimates and Gate Reviews

We will derive the estimates, but our organization may have project … Continue reading

Instead of No Estimates

Instead of  No Estimates

Instead of no estimates, we should consider adjusting our approach to estimates that eliminate the abuse, and still allows for the answers to the business questions, “does this project improve our bottom line” allowing the business to determine if the company really wants to undertake the project, and if so, do we have the talent and resources to undertake this project.  Answering these two questions initiates the next steps to actually create a project and being planning and doing the work.

Besides the techniques below, we can estimate from top down, estimation comes from managers and executives, or bottom up, that is those doing the work or closest to the work, provide the estimates. There are draw backs and benefits to each of these approaches.

Estimating Techniques

There are many techniques for estimating.  Experience suggests organizations may not use much more than the least helpful, expert judgement.

Analogous Parametric PERT Simulation (Monte Carlo Analysis) Expert Judgement Analogous

Instead … Continue reading

Estimating and Business Case

Estimating and Business Case

Our last post explored the abuses of estimates. I thought it best to recognize the abuses, thinking acknowledging these thoughts from the no estimate crowd, may make them amenable to a discussion of how other see the problem and perhaps, eventually, a movement toward a solution that all find acceptable.

Individuals cannot do all the things they want to do, and so to it is for businesses.  Whether the business is for profit or a nonprofit, there are limited funds and available talent, that put constraints upon what can be undertaken.  These constraining factors lead the organization to optimize the projects that are undertaken to both fit within the capabilities and constraints, but also to maximize the benefit, the benefit being profitability for the for profit, and biggest benefit to the most constituents for the non-profit concern.

In addition to these afore mentioned constraints and benefits, we have risk.  There is risk associated with any … Continue reading

Abuses from Estimating

I would like to start off with has anybody seen an appropriate study of estimating when it comes to doing the work? Not a study that already knows the conclusion they want, but an actual scientific study.  The thoughts below are not based upon anything like that but, having seen many estimating boondoggles. I have also read portions of the works of Barry W. Boehm, and Constructive Cost Model which is a tool for estimating, many years ago.

I find myself in many discussions with the #noestimates crowd. I am not a no estimating person.  The latest “exchange” was around the abuses that estimating brings. This I am in full agreement with them. I just do not go as far as they would to say, no estimates because people are abusive in this regard. My retort, people abuse antibiotics, but we do not ban these.  It is interesting to note that most if not all the people I “hear” … Continue reading

Clues! Signals

Clues! Signals!

Below is the result of a collaboration with John Cutler. He posted a document on Google Docs, and I liked the outline so much I felt compelled to post my thoughts In fact, it was surreal adding my contents to the Google docs and John coincidentally showed up on line, at the same time and was approving my contribution as I was writing it!  I had to write fast to stay ahead of him. I wrote the top level part of the outline, making it easy to think about that topic and what can and often does go wrong.   It was such an interesting collaboration, unscripted, accidental, and fun.  We had talked about making a short video, teasing out a few of the more interesting ones and talking about them, but the new father has plenty of other more important work.  In  fact, the collaboration was so easy, it turns out making a decent outline in WordPress is … Continue reading

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