Saturday, May 22, 2021

Use delays detection to improve the process


SOURCES OF WASTE - there are more significant sources of waste and a good approach to improvement should consider reducing and eliminating these various sources.

WHY DELAYS ARE IMPORTANT - The Delays (Waiting) waste plays an important role for several reasons 

  • a great business/process will react in timely manner, so delays preclude a good process
  • usually, the benefits of reducing delays are bigger that other improvements 
  • we act to improve locally and we forgot the delays between different teams and business units  
  • most others significant source of waste will have delays as an effect 
  • any delay will produce further delays in cascade

It is obvious that we should discover the delays starting with the inter-teams workflow and we should act with high priority on reducing and eliminating them.  

IS DELAY REDUCTION A SILVER BULLET ? So, knowing how important it is, what would be the recommended course of action for improvement?

A GAME -  Let's play a game: what happens if we relied mainly on detecting and then eliminating delays for improvement?

Is rather reactive and not proactive – It is rather reactive and not proactive - we measure the last effect of different sources of waste and it could be too late: we are already compromising costs, time and quality in a significant way.

We need to be prepared to identify the root causes, not just to measure the effects. So we need to learn and practice by discovering the other significant sources of waste and their common cause.

A classic example: A Scrum team that relies solely on the practices of the Scrum Guide and does not take into account technical excellence and internal quality. It could go fast for a few months, maybe two years and only after a while they will become slower and they will discover the delays as an effect. It is too late! We already have a product with high technical debt and as a consequence: is rigid (difficult to change), fragile (any change will cause uncontrolled defects). The team could solve this debt, but it will cost money and cause other delays. Moreover, the team should start just now learning and practicing how to produce software with better internal quality.

Future hidden delays - delays are sometimes the accumulated effect of our work habits over a significant period of time. Measuring only the final effect - the delays - will be too late and, consequently, a source of more delays and waste.  Even worse - these other waste can instantly induce other waste - avalanche effect -  until we could measure some delays.  

A better approach - we should pay attention, discover, measure and avoid all known significant sources of waste, including those with delayed effects such as lack of built-in quality (which creates defects, modifies delays, corrects delays and more). We should also take into account the trends of wastes, so as not to react too late to these wastes and related causes.

Even better: Guided Process Improvement We measure, monitor and react to all known and discovered source of waste. in case of problems we will fail fast and maybe we will improve in due time. With Guided Process Improvement (which is recommended by Disciplined Agile) we can use knowledge bases - as DA toolkit -  to succeed early instead of failing fast.     

Assess versus Prevent -  Identifying delays is perhaps the power gun for assessing the current problems of the process. However, in order not to end up with significant problems - to prevent them for the first time - we need a much more sophisticated arsenal.  Remember - Lean is about Avoiding Waste.