I spent most of last week attending and speaking at the 2011 Lean Software and Systems Consortium conference in Long Beach, California. It was an interesting experience to say the least.
I often talk about Lean as providing an operating system, an organizational learning system, and a people development system. While the Lean Software Development community is becoming more sophisticated about adopting and using Lean practices for managing workflow, Kaizen is still very new to most. The emphasis is still very much on Lean as an operating system.
The tool field is still in a very early stage, which is in itself exciting; I expect to see much more sophisticated tools over the next year. Leankit Kanban demonstrated an electronic kanban solution using touch screens, which I think is a promising direction.
Scaling is still a challenge. Most of the discussion still centers on tools, teams, and tactics instead of organizations, transformation, and behaviors. This is in part because the Lean Software community is still not well integrated with the Lean community at large. There even appears to be active resistance among some against going beyond the development “silo”. There also seems to be some confusion and controversy about whether and to what extent Lean as applied to software needs its own terminology.
For me, perhaps the most delightful aspect of the conference was the coverage of topics from adjacent fields such as systems engineering, complexity theory, and risk management. This provided many new ideas for people to think about.
The theme of my own talk was integration. We believe Lean must be applied across organizational functions and be integrated with strategy, business models, and accounting models to transform the IT sector. The Lean Software Institute will continue to emphasize integration and bridge-building. From the very beginning we have regarded Lean as a journey that transforms individuals and organizations, and we always will.