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Implementing Lean SD - for developers or managers?

 
Burk Hufnagel
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Firstly, thanks for being here and answering our questions. Here's mine:

I suspect that most of the people reading the messages in this forum are developers working on one or more projects and reporting to a manager.

Given that, I would like to know if it is reasonable for the developers to use your suggestions without first getting management buy-in, or if this is the kind of thing that you really need to get the manager to agree to first.

Burk
 
Mary Poppendieck
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It's always a good idea to sell lean ideas to managers - and often it's necessary to make progress. For example, development teams have little control over the portfolio management process and the (often lengthy) queue of things to be done. On the other hand, automating testing, reducing regression testing lag time, welcoming customers on the team as full team members, and even completing software in short iterations is something that teams can often do more or less independently.

Generally, however, we have found that developers who see the logic of lean development are frustrated if their managers don't buy into the ideas. We hear that a lot of the copies of our first book were bought by people who gave them to their managers to read.

Mary Poppendieck
 
Ilja Preuss
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Yes, seeing where you could be in contrast where you actually are can be a frustrating experience.

On the other hand, as a developer you can do far more than just handing the book to your manager (although that might be a good idea, too...). In my experience, if you don't just tell your manager that everything he is doing is wrong, but show earnest interest in understanding his needs and working together to improve the way you work as a group, you typically can accomplish quite a lot (even if it takes some time).

The book "Fearless Change" has a lot of tips on how to do this, and might be a good supplement to "Implementing Lean SD"...
 
Burk Hufnagel
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Mary,

Do you see much resistance from managers? Are there certain types of organizations that seem more or less willing to try your ideas? Startups vs. established corporate shops, etc.

Thanks,
Burk
 
Mary Poppendieck
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We find that Lean ideas are most acceptable in companies that are in highly competitive industries, where managers really have to do something different than they have been doing in the past in order to survive. When a manager has gained his or her status from following past practices, there is little incentive to change - in fact change can seem rather risky. But when there is an outside driver requiring change, we find that managers are VERY receptive to these ideas.

Mary Poppendieck
 
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