Lean Thinking with Richard Durnall 1

Posted by Conrad Benham on July 06, 2008

At our last gathering, guest speaker Richard Durnall gave a very interesting presentation on Lean Thinking in IT. In his presentation, Richard covered a large spectrum of the Lean Thinking space. From a solid background of applying Lean in the Automotive industry (where Lean grew from) Richard spoke with authority on the history of Lean and its application. He then drew from that experience to explain how Lean thinking can be applied in IT.

Lean Manufacturing has had a major influence from Japan where Toyota used it to great effect. This influence means that many Japanese words can be found in Lean to describe various components of it. One of those words, muda, for example is used to describe waste. Another word, jidoka, as Richard explained it, is about autonomation or automation with a human touch. It focuses on introducing technology to people in a structured and considered manner such that those people will adopt the technology being built for them. A system that is built that dismisses jidoka could be considered muda, particularly if the users it is built for do not adopt it.

Amongst the topics presented, he spoke briefly on the differences between Agile and Lean. In a recent blog post, Richard compares Agile and Lean. Martin Fowler has also weighed into the conversation with his own ideas.

Richard also made reference to a couple of books during his presentation:
•    Learning to See by John Shook
•    The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker

I’d like to thank Richard for presenting at our last meeting and for making his presentation available, which can be found in PDF form. I want to wish him well on the rest of his world tour in which he will continue to present on Lean Thinking.

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