One of the interesting things about having a blog is that you get alot of comments and feed back from people that don’t actually comment on the blog itself. I even had someone phone me up a while back about one of the posts.

Following my ‘Toyota the unasked questions’ piece, someone even drew my attention to http://www.toyotaproblems.com/ which says to me that all is not necessarily rosy at Toyota.

What I was getting at with the original article is that there is a significant difference between a situation where you are repeating the same thing over and over (which is what Kanban is geared towards) and a culture of doing specialised – non repeated – bespoke – work. There will of course be similarities in what we in IT do, but I my view, doing similar activity is not the same as doing the same activity. IT isn’t about ‘same’. In that sense I still have some unease about Kanban’s underlying principles.

In my Space Shuttle example, I was explaining that ‘incrementalism’ and ‘routinisation’ (which seem to me to be to fairly key to Kanban) were actually identified as contributing to the problems themselves. As people attempted to ‘standardise’ whey did, they actually became immune to the dangers, risks and urgency and couldn’t see the ‘bigger picture’. If you read the book (which I would highly recommend) there are also very interesting suggestions that breaking work units down into smaller and smaller pieces also contributed to the problems. For example, the ‘O-Ring task force’ which was set up to address the specific problem of the o-rings was starved of resources and power – because – it seems, the O-Rings were regarded as just a tiny piece of a much larger ‘scheme of things’. People stopped getting ‘the bigger picture’. Besides, there was always something else to which resources should be allocated to that was more important.

All very IT-esque (or at least bespoke software development-esque) isn’t it…

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