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152745Re: [XP] Lean failure at Toyota

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  • Bill Caputo
    Feb 1, 2010
      On Mon, Feb 1, 2010 at 7:42 AM, Michael KENNY <kenny@...> wrote:
      > What evidence would there need to be for a team to say Lean or agile
      > doesn't work for us?

      What evidence would say they do? IMO, its the wrong question. The
      issue for those of us who think a lot about software process and how
      to be successful at delivering software, and so forth is more
      fundamental. Tim's got the right idea: Success is rare. More
      specifically, success is a number between 0 and 100 and for most
      endeavors just being slightly above the norm will result in huge

      Kent's been blogging a good bit about poker and how its shaping his
      thinking. I've been playing poker very actively this past year as
      well, and one thing its taught me is that binary notions of win/lose,
      pass/fail, success/fail are fine in chess, math and other precise
      activities (like coding) where complete information is possible (in a
      narrow context) but most activities live in contexts that require a
      probabilistic definition of success and so a strategy that increases
      one's chances to a positive expectation is successful, improvement is
      looking for ways to improve a point or two and no strategy will get
      you to 100% or even close, the vast majority won't get to 50%.

      We keep making the mistake that a methodology (a practice, a value, a
      language, a book, a tool, etc) is going to provide, or be the basis
      for, or an element of a formula that makes success a certainty, and so
      when we see a failure it must be because the item in question was
      misused or abandoned. Lean isn't a formula for success any more than
      Agile was; both might help improve EV by some number of points (at
      best) assuming the other factors in a given context don't dwarf their
      effects (something not at all clear IMHO).

      As to the fallacy? Its in the assumption that one can be doing
      lean/agile/tdd perfectly and not still fail. Code and mechanical
      engineering might be closer to Math and Physics, but software delivery
      (and manufacturing cars) are more like Biology or Economics.

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