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Re: Lead Toyota Engineer Dies of Overwork.

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  • Joseph Little
    Hi, To me Robin s point is a good reminder to us all. Toyota (eg, Taiichi Ohno) never said they were perfect and don t want to be seen that way. We should not
    Message 1 of 16 , Jul 9, 2008
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      Hi,

      To me Robin's point is a good reminder to us all. Toyota (eg, Taiichi
      Ohno) never said they were perfect and don't want to be seen that way.
      We should not project our wish for perfection onto them (as
      admittedly, I am wont to do).

      Some song lyrics:
      Quote
      I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail
      Poisoned in the bushes and blown out on the trail
      Hunted like a crocodile ravaged in the corn
      "Come in" she said
      "I'll give you shelter from the storm".
      Unquote

      We want shelter from the storm. We want a silver bullet. We want to
      believe that Toyota is perfect. Reality is a bit more complicated.

      This all does not mean we can't still learn from Toyota and from a
      whole lot of others doing lean. But to make the childish assumption
      that "if Toyota does it, it must be right", is, well, child's play.

      When we (who will also never be perfect) get better than they are,
      then they may deify us. Which will give us a good chuckle, make us
      sad, but maybe give us a bit of pride. And a bit of motivation to try
      to continue to become yet better.

      Regards, Joe


      PS. Is it fair to hold Toyota accountable for the mental health of
      every single one of its employees? Still, it may be true that this
      death is not just one incident, and that Toyota may be (partially)
      culpable.


      --- In leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "Robin Dymond"
      <robin.dymond@...> wrote:
      >
      > Not all is so rosy at Toyota.
      >
      > TOKYO - A Japanese labor bureau has ruled that one of Toyota's top car
      > engineers died from working too many hours, the latest in a string
      of such
      > findings... had been under severe pressure as the lead engineer in
      > developing a hybrid version of Toyota's blockbuster Camry line...
      > http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080709/ap_on_bi_ge/japan_overwork_death
      >
    • David Carlton
      ... Well, a Japanese labor bureau thought that it was fair to hold them accountable in this case; do you see a reason to second-guess them? It s certainly not
      Message 2 of 16 , Jul 9, 2008
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        On Thu, 10 Jul 2008 03:00:43 -0000, "Joseph Little" <jhlittle@...> said:

        > PS. Is it fair to hold Toyota accountable for the mental health of
        > every single one of its employees? Still, it may be true that this
        > death is not just one incident, and that Toyota may be (partially)
        > culpable.

        Well, a Japanese labor bureau thought that it was fair to hold them
        accountable in this case; do you see a reason to second-guess them?
        It's certainly not the only story I've heard that makes me think that
        the XP practice of Sustainable Pace isn't in complete harmony with
        Toyota's practices.

        David Carlton
        carlton@...
      • Robin Dymond
        I thought this was sad but interesting. The lean product development model that Toyota uses rolls the product owner, scrum master, and technical lead into one
        Message 3 of 16 , Jul 10, 2008
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          I thought this was sad but interesting. The lean product development model that Toyota uses rolls the product owner, scrum master, and technical lead into one role, the chief engineer. Mary Poppendeick and I have been talking about how this leadership model might apply in software development too. The issue I have is that the Product Owner is already an overloaded role and an achilles heel for a scrum team. Adding the additional technical and process responsibilities has always struck me as being much too heroic, and not sustainable. It looks like that this may be the case.

          Of course I don't have Toyota to blame for my 80 hour weeks, just my OC behavior in trying to be really good at doing lean agile and growing a consulting company. I know I am not the only one on this list who is not practicing sustainable pace... but I should... another opportunity.

          Robin.


          On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 5:20 AM, David Carlton <carlton@...> wrote:

          On Thu, 10 Jul 2008 03:00:43 -0000, "Joseph Little" <jhlittle@...> said:

          > PS. Is it fair to hold Toyota accountable for the mental health of
          > every single one of its employees? Still, it may be true that this
          > death is not just one incident, and that Toyota may be (partially)
          > culpable.

          Well, a Japanese labor bureau thought that it was fair to hold them
          accountable in this case; do you see a reason to second-guess them?
          It's certainly not the only story I've heard that makes me think that
          the XP practice of Sustainable Pace isn't in complete harmony with
          Toyota's practices.

          David Carlton
          carlton@...



          --
          Robin Dymond, CST
          Managing Partner, Innovel, LLC.
          www.innovel.net - www.scrumtraining.com
          Ass't Producer, Learning and Education stage, Agile 2008
        • Rich Sharpe
          Unfortunately this is another example of the theory of Working Smart, not hard! failing in the real world. If you do work smart and can timebox your work
          Message 4 of 16 , Jul 10, 2008
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            Unfortunately this is another example of the theory of 'Working Smart, not hard!' failing in the real world. If you do work smart and can timebox your work effectively to be able to work reasonable hours in a week some managers still want more. Especially at larger corporations.

            I can speak about this from experience as I ended up in hospital through exhaustion when I worked about 8 - 9 weeks of 90+ hours back to back for a large, famous IT corporation. I was in my 20's and was told that completion of the project was the ULTIMATE goal. The PM ended up having a nervous breakdown.

            Learning to say 'No' is hard and something you get better at through experience and seeing/reading articles such as this. However, in this industry most people love their work and cannot see the effects on themselves - it really is managements responsibility to notice this and stop this.
            _________________________________________________________________
            The John Lewis Clearance - save up to 50% with FREE delivery
            http://clk.atdmt.com/UKM/go/101719806/direct/01/
          • James Walsh
            While I agree that good management has responsibility to avoid waste, and losing a life over a job is an extreme and tragic form of waste, anyone at any level
            Message 5 of 16 , Jul 10, 2008
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              While I agree that good management has responsibility to avoid waste, and losing a life over a job is an extreme and tragic form of waste, anyone at any level needs to take care of themselves and recognize the choices they are making in their lives.  Ultimately no one can force you to work yourself to death, even bad management.  It may take significant courage to stand up for sustainable work in some circumstances, but if one puts their life in the balance, one may more easily find the courage.

              I used to abuse my body with a horrific diet because I was "too busy" to be healthy.  In my case, my manager at the time was somewhat concerned when her 20-something developer had a high blood pressure test.  Now with a sustained long-term weight loss and with a much reduced intake of caffeine, among other things, I can focus for longer and withstand bursts of unusually high stress more resiliently.  This provides value for my employer as well as improvement of my personal health.

              Healthcare is a significant cost for most companies.  Principles of sustainable work can decrease these costs by reducing sick days or absences or even just loss of productivity due to zombie-states of awareness.  Has anyone seen corporate health costs tracked on a per-project basis, encouraging teams that are healthier?  I would think that if those costs were added to projects, it would raise awareness of the importance of sustainable work.  I know my employer tracks individual sick days, but I don't think it is connected back to projects and management methods.

              James Walsh

              On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 10:47 AM, Rich Sharpe <richsharpe90@...> wrote:


              Unfortunately this is another example of the theory of 'Working Smart, not hard!' failing in the real world. If you do work smart and can timebox your work effectively to be able to work reasonable hours in a week some managers still want more. Especially at larger corporations.

              I can speak about this from experience as I ended up in hospital through exhaustion when I worked about 8 - 9 weeks of 90+ hours back to back for a large, famous IT corporation. I was in my 20's and was told that completion of the project was the ULTIMATE goal. The PM ended up having a nervous breakdown.

              Learning to say 'No' is hard and something you get better at through experience and seeing/reading articles such as this. However, in this industry most people love their work and cannot see the effects on themselves - it really is managements responsibility to notice this and stop this.
              __________________________________________________________
              The John Lewis Clearance - save up to 50% with FREE delivery
              http://clk.atdmt.com/UKM/go/101719806/direct/01/


            • Bartels, Mel
              ... Learning to say No is hard and something you get better at through experience and seeing/reading articles such as this. However, in this industry most
              Message 6 of 16 , Jul 10, 2008
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                >>>
                Learning to say 'No' is hard and something you get better at through experience and seeing/reading articles such as this. However, in this industry most people love their work and cannot see the effects on themselves - it really is managements responsibility to notice this and stop this.
                <<<
                 
                The irony is not lost.  If you can't lead an effective (Lean) professional life, how in the heck can you, at the end of the day, say that you do Lean software?   I know we humans are good at compartmentizing based on context, but gosh, that's a huge contradiction to overcome.
                 
                Culture is built by all; not just managers (though they tend to be the culture manifesters, having 'received' their culture from above). 
                 
                Mel Bartels
                 
              • David Carlton
                ... On the one hand I agree. On the other hand, part of the context to my response to this is seeing stuff like the following:
                Message 7 of 16 , Jul 10, 2008
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                  On Thu, 10 Jul 2008 11:33:13 -0500, "James Walsh" <jlpwalsh@...> said:

                  > While I agree that good management has responsibility to avoid
                  > waste, and losing a life over a job is an extreme and tragic form of
                  > waste, anyone at any level needs to take care of themselves and
                  > recognize the choices they are making in their lives. Ultimately no
                  > one can force you to work yourself to death, even bad management.
                  > It may take significant courage to stand up for sustainable work in
                  > some circumstances, but if one puts their life in the balance, one
                  > may more easily find the courage.

                  On the one hand I agree. On the other hand, part of the context to my
                  response to this is seeing stuff like the following:
                  <http://www.evolvingexcellence.com/blog/2008/06/toyota-puts-peo.html>
                  It says that, in the heavy times at this particular Toyota plant, that

                  "During full-production periods, when the plant is running 24-7,
                  employees work incredible amounts of overtime"

                  but this is nonetheless demonstrating Toyota's "respect for people"
                  because, during the slow times, Toyota doesn't fire employees, instead

                  "all employees work on becoming more efficient, brainstorming ways to
                  out-do their competition (they’ll bring in competitors cars and tear
                  them apart, looking for ways to improve their own vehicles), and all
                  become actively involved in seeking ways to save the company money."

                  So, absolutely, you can quit your job rather than work huge amounts of
                  overtime. But if that's the company culture, then it's a part of lean
                  that I don't want to emulate.

                  And (perhaps more relevant to this forum), it colors how I look at
                  parts of lean that I _do_ want to emulate. For example, if I'm
                  remembering correctly, the Poppendieck's books talk about how Toyota
                  always hits their product release dates, and how set-based design is a
                  big factor in that. And that may well be the case, and I'd very much
                  like to learn whatever I can from Toyota in that regard. But I
                  suspect that both set-based design and (perhaps seriously) overworking
                  people are factors in hitting their dates; I suspect that taking an
                  honest look at the latter factor in Toyota's success might give
                  insight into how effective set-based design may be, by giving us a
                  clearer picture into the evidence for that.

                  David Carlton
                  carlton@...
                • Joseph Little
                  Well, lean has a principle of not over taxing the system. (Mura is the word used to call out the reverse of that.) It does not take a brain surgeon to see
                  Message 8 of 16 , Jul 10, 2008
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                    Well, lean has a principle of not over taxing the system. (Mura is the
                    word used to call out the reverse of that.) It does not take a brain
                    surgeon to see that should also be applied to people.

                    AND...Taiichi Ohno challenged people too. He was pretty tough.

                    No, I do not second guess them. I still question whether we are
                    talking about some isolated cases or something truly fundamental to
                    the Lean culture within Toyota. (No doubt there are other parts of
                    Japanese culture that are not consistent with Lean. Perhaps it was/is
                    some of that culture in Toyota.)

                    I think Agile is basically very consistent with what lean really is.
                    This does not mean that Toyota always practices true lean (does any
                    large firm consistently practice true agile?)

                    Regards, Joe




                    --- In leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com, David Carlton <carlton@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > On Thu, 10 Jul 2008 03:00:43 -0000, "Joseph Little" <jhlittle@...> said:
                    >
                    > > PS. Is it fair to hold Toyota accountable for the mental health of
                    > > every single one of its employees? Still, it may be true that this
                    > > death is not just one incident, and that Toyota may be (partially)
                    > > culpable.
                    >
                    > Well, a Japanese labor bureau thought that it was fair to hold them
                    > accountable in this case; do you see a reason to second-guess them?
                    > It's certainly not the only story I've heard that makes me think that
                    > the XP practice of Sustainable Pace isn't in complete harmony with
                    > Toyota's practices.
                    >
                    > David Carlton
                    > carlton@...
                    >
                  • Joseph Little
                    Re leadership... I recently posted a link to Mary s talk at Google on this subject. AND...I feel Mary has some very important things to say. That usefully
                    Message 9 of 16 , Jul 10, 2008
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                      Re leadership...

                      I recently posted a link to Mary's talk at Google on this subject.

                      AND...I feel Mary has some very important things to say. That
                      usefully challenge the "received" Scrum ideas about this.

                      One comment of theirs: That a "process chief" soon should not have a
                      real role...I agree with this basically. (Although I think a
                      ScrumMaster is much more than just a process guru.)

                      At the same time, I very much in agreement with you Robin...the
                      Product Owner role is too hard already. Not sure I have seen anyone
                      do it too well. And have spare time to do more. Or really be capable
                      of doing more.

                      of course, this does not mean that Mary might not be right about what
                      *ought* to be the case.

                      Anyway....this is a longer conversation. Just some quick comments.

                      Regards, Joe


                      --- In leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "Robin Dymond"
                      <robin.dymond@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I thought this was sad but interesting. The lean product development
                      model
                      > that Toyota uses rolls the product owner, scrum master, and
                      technical lead
                      > into one role, the chief engineer. Mary Poppendeick and I have been
                      talking
                      > about how this leadership model might apply in software development
                      too. The
                      > issue I have is that the Product Owner is already an overloaded role
                      and an
                      > achilles heel for a scrum team. Adding the additional technical and
                      process
                      > responsibilities has always struck me as being much too heroic, and not
                      > sustainable. It looks like that this may be the case.
                      >
                      > Of course I don't have Toyota to blame for my 80 hour weeks, just my OC
                      > behavior in trying to be really good at doing lean agile and growing a
                      > consulting company. I know I am not the only one on this list who is not
                      > practicing sustainable pace... but I should... another opportunity.
                      >
                      > Robin.
                      >
                      >
                      > On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 5:20 AM, David Carlton <carlton@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > > On Thu, 10 Jul 2008 03:00:43 -0000, "Joseph Little" <
                      > > jhlittle@... <jhlittle%40mindspring.com>> said:
                      > >
                      > > > PS. Is it fair to hold Toyota accountable for the mental health of
                      > > > every single one of its employees? Still, it may be true that this
                      > > > death is not just one incident, and that Toyota may be (partially)
                      > > > culpable.
                      > >
                      > > Well, a Japanese labor bureau thought that it was fair to hold them
                      > > accountable in this case; do you see a reason to second-guess them?
                      > > It's certainly not the only story I've heard that makes me think that
                      > > the XP practice of Sustainable Pace isn't in complete harmony with
                      > > Toyota's practices.
                      > >
                      > > David Carlton
                      > > carlton@... <carlton%40bactrian.org>
                      > >
                      > >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > --
                      > Robin Dymond, CST
                      > Managing Partner, Innovel, LLC.
                      > www.innovel.net - www.scrumtraining.com
                      > Ass't Producer, Learning and Education stage, Agile 2008
                      >
                    • Joseph Little
                      Well said (below). We have to take responsibility for ourselves. Only a child would expect another to have one s own best interest always in mind. Still, a
                      Message 10 of 16 , Jul 10, 2008
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                        Well said (below).

                        We have to take responsibility for ourselves. Only a child would
                        expect another to have one's own best interest always in mind.

                        Still, a wise management would make the bad effects of overworking
                        quite clear to all.

                        Regards, Joe


                        --- In leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Rich Sharpe <richsharpe90@...>
                        wrote:
                        >
                        >
                        > Unfortunately this is another example of the theory of 'Working
                        Smart, not hard!' failing in the real world. If you do work smart and
                        can timebox your work effectively to be able to work reasonable hours
                        in a week some managers still want more. Especially at larger
                        corporations.
                        >
                        > I can speak about this from experience as I ended up in hospital
                        through exhaustion when I worked about 8 - 9 weeks of 90+ hours back
                        to back for a large, famous IT corporation. I was in my 20's and was
                        told that completion of the project was the ULTIMATE goal. The PM
                        ended up having a nervous breakdown.
                        >
                        > Learning to say 'No' is hard and something you get better at through
                        experience and seeing/reading articles such as this. However, in this
                        industry most people love their work and cannot see the effects on
                        themselves - it really is managements responsibility to notice this
                        and stop this.
                        > _________________________________________________________________
                        > The John Lewis Clearance - save up to 50% with FREE delivery
                        > http://clk.atdmt.com/UKM/go/101719806/direct/01/
                        >
                      • Mary Poppendieck
                        Hi Robin, I worked as a product champion for several years at 3M, and these were incredibly fun years. My recollection is that on good teams, overload /
                        Message 11 of 16 , Jul 11, 2008
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                          Hi Robin,

                           

                          I worked as a product champion for several years at 3M, and these were incredibly fun years.  My recollection is that on good teams, overload / overtime was something that the team members did to themselves due to their passion for the product they were developing.  I also do not see the product champion as an all-knowing all-powerful person - just a person with a vision that can excite passion in a team.  When I was product champion, I certainly never could do all of the things expected of even a product owner all by myself, but I did know how to get the right people on the team and get them engaged in the goal – so all of the necessary technical and marketing things happened. 

                           

                          The problem with roles – ANY roles – is that they tend to become a laundry list of stuff a person is expected to do, instead of a checklist that a team is responsible for looking into.

                           

                          Mary Poppendieck

                          952-934-7998

                          www.poppendieck.com

                          Author of: Lean Software Development & Implementing Lean Software Development

                           

                          From: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Robin Dymond
                          Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 11:06 PM
                          To: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [leandevelopment] Re: Lead Toyota Engineer Dies of Overwork.

                           

                          I thought this was sad but interesting. The lean product development model that Toyota uses rolls the product owner, scrum master, and technical lead into one role, the chief engineer. Mary Poppendeick and I have been talking about how this leadership model might apply in software development too. The issue I have is that the Product Owner is already an overloaded role and an achilles heel for a scrum team. Adding the additional technical and process responsibilities has always struck me as being much too heroic, and not sustainable. It looks like that this may be the case.

                          Of course I don't have Toyota to blame for my 80 hour weeks, just my OC behavior in trying to be really good at doing lean agile and growing a consulting company. I know I am not the only one on this list who is not practicing sustainable pace... but I should... another opportunity.

                          Robin.

                          On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 5:20 AM, David Carlton <carlton@...> wrote:

                          On Thu, 10 Jul 2008 03:00:43 -0000, "Joseph Little" <jhlittle@...> said:

                          > PS. Is it fair to hold Toyota accountable for the mental health of
                          > every single one of its employees? Still, it may be true that this
                          > death is not just one incident, and that Toyota may be (partially)
                          > culpable.

                          Well, a Japanese labor bureau thought that it was fair to hold them
                          accountable in this case; do you see a reason to second-guess them?
                          It's certainly not the only story I've heard that makes me think that
                          the XP practice of Sustainable Pace isn't in complete harmony with
                          Toyota's practices.

                          David Carlton
                          carlton@...




                          --
                          Robin Dymond, CST
                          Managing Partner, Innovel, LLC.
                          www.innovel.net - www.scrumtraining.com
                          Ass't Producer, Learning and Education stage, Agile 2008

                        • Pankaj Chawla
                          Hi Mary ... something ... product they ... Even though I agree with you on this but the opposite is also true and I guess far more prevalant. A lot of people
                          Message 12 of 16 , Jul 11, 2008
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                            Hi Mary
                             
                            >My recollection is that on good teams, overload / overtime was something
                            >that the team members did to themselves due to their passion for the product they
                            >were developing.
                             
                            Even though I agree with you on this but the opposite is also true and
                            I guess far more prevalant. A lot of  people I see putting in extra hours are not doing
                            that for the passion of it but because of looming deadlines (As is the case with
                            the Toyota employee also who sadly got there because of a hard deadline on him)
                            which can lead to lost jobs, bad appraisals and n number of other bad things that
                            can happen to you as part of the corporate appraisal cycles. I personally
                            know of an instance where over a period of 1 year, 6 very very passionate
                            employees left because they were asked to put in weekends after weekends to
                            meet deadlines where the initial problem was setting up of a wrong deadline
                            which came into place because their manager made an aggressive commitment
                            to stake holders without consulting the team members. 
                             
                            >The problem with roles – ANY roles – is that they tend to become a laundry list
                            >of stuff a person is expected to do, instead of a checklist that a team is responsible
                            >for looking into.
                             
                            I totally agree with you here because in the case I quoted above, the Manager took
                            upon himself to commit to aggressive deadlines and forcing team members to follow it
                            because it was an expectation set upon him (maybe by the organization or by himself).
                             
                            Cheers
                            Pankaj
                             
                             

                            From: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Mary Poppendieck
                            Sent: Friday, July 11, 2008 3:07 PM
                            To: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                            Subject: RE: [leandevelopment] Re: Lead Toyota Engineer Dies of Overwork.

                            Hi Robin,

                            I worked as a product champion for several years at 3M, and these were incredibly fun years.  My recollection is that on good teams, overload / overtime was something that the team members did to themselves due to their passion for the product they were developing.  I also do not see the product champion as an all-knowing all-powerful person - just a person with a vision that can excite passion in a team.  When I was product champion, I certainly never could do all of the things expected of even a product owner all by myself, but I did know how to get the right people on the team and get them engaged in the goal – so all of the necessary technical and marketing things happened. 

                            The problem with roles – ANY roles – is that they tend to become a laundry list of stuff a person is expected to do, instead of a checklist that a team is responsible for looking into.

                            Mary Poppendieck

                            952-934-7998

                            www.poppendieck. com

                            Author of: Lean Software Development & Implementing Lean Software Development

                            From: leandevelopment@ yahoogroups. com [mailto:leandevelop ment@yahoogroups .com] On Behalf Of Robin Dymond
                            Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 11:06 PM
                            To: leandevelopment@ yahoogroups. com
                            Subject: Re: [leandevelopment] Re: Lead Toyota Engineer Dies of Overwork.

                            I thought this was sad but interesting. The lean product development model that Toyota uses rolls the product owner, scrum master, and technical lead into one role, the chief engineer. Mary Poppendeick and I have been talking about how this leadership model might apply in software development too. The issue I have is that the Product Owner is already an overloaded role and an achilles heel for a scrum team. Adding the additional technical and process responsibilities has always struck me as being much too heroic, and not sustainable. It looks like that this may be the case.

                            Of course I don't have Toyota to blame for my 80 hour weeks, just my OC behavior in trying to be really good at doing lean agile and growing a consulting company. I know I am not the only one on this list who is not practicing sustainable pace... but I should... another opportunity.

                            Robin.

                            On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 5:20 AM, David Carlton <carlton@bactrian. org> wrote:

                            On Thu, 10 Jul 2008 03:00:43 -0000, "Joseph Little" <jhlittle@mindspring .com> said:

                            > PS. Is it fair to hold Toyota accountable for the mental health of
                            > every single one of its employees? Still, it may be true that this
                            > death is not just one incident, and that Toyota may be (partially)
                            > culpable.

                            Well, a Japanese labor bureau thought that it was fair to hold them
                            accountable in this case; do you see a reason to second-guess them?
                            It's certainly not the only story I've heard that makes me think that
                            the XP practice of Sustainable Pace isn't in complete harmony with
                            Toyota's practices.

                            David Carlton
                            carlton@bactrian. org




                            --
                            Robin Dymond, CST
                            Managing Partner, Innovel, LLC.
                            www.innovel. net - www.scrumtraining. com
                            Ass't Producer, Learning and Education stage, Agile 2008

                          • Ron Jeffries
                            ... Delicious! This is an important mind-twist. Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com You have to either laugh or cry. -- Bill Rogers
                            Message 13 of 16 , Jul 11, 2008
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                              Hello, Mary. On Friday, July 11, 2008, at 5:37:00 AM, you wrote:

                              > The problem with roles - ANY roles - is that they tend to become a laundry
                              > list of stuff a person is expected to do, instead of a checklist that a team
                              > is responsible for looking into.

                              Delicious! This is an important mind-twist.

                              Ron Jeffries
                              www.XProgramming.com
                              You have to either laugh or cry. -- Bill Rogers
                            • Mary Poppendieck
                              Perhaps the biggest problem that drives the symptoms that you mention below is that software seems for some reason to get divorced from the overall system and
                              Message 14 of 16 , Jul 11, 2008
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                                Perhaps the biggest problem that drives the symptoms that you mention below is that software seems for some reason to get divorced from the overall system and the overall business purpose of that system.  Then of course, no one can get passionate about it.  We have to stop developing software and start making systems that serve important purposes, so that team members can make valid judgments about how important the schedule really is – how important that difficult feature really is – what test strategy is best for the long run – where the true cost of the system lies.  This kind of knowledge should not be restricted to managers – a team with a good leader should be able to figure out these kinds of tradeoffs based on the overall system objective. 

                                 

                                Mary Poppendieck

                                952-934-7998

                                www.poppendieck.com

                                Author of: Lean Software Development & Implementing Lean Software Development

                                 

                                From: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Pankaj Chawla
                                Sent: Friday, July 11, 2008 06:27 PM
                                To: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: RE: [leandevelopment] Re: Lead Toyota Engineer Dies of Overwork.

                                 

                                Hi Mary

                                 

                                >My

                                recollection is that on good teams, overload / overtime was something

                                >that the

                                team members did to themselves due to their passion for the product they

                                >were

                                developing.

                                 

                                Even though I agree with you on this but the opposite is also true and

                                I guess far more prevalant. A lot of  people I see putting in extra hours are not doing

                                that for the passion of it but because of looming deadlines (As is the case with

                                the Toyota employee also who sadly got there because of a hard deadline on him)

                                which can lead to lost jobs, bad appraisals and n number of other bad things that

                                can happen to you as part of the corporate appraisal cycles. I personally

                                know of an instance where over a period of 1 year, 6 very very passionate

                                employees left because they were asked to put in weekends after weekends to

                                meet deadlines where the initial problem was setting up of a wrong deadline

                                which came into place because their manager made an aggressive commitment

                                to stake holders without consulting the team members. 

                                 

                                >The problem

                                with roles – ANY roles – is that they tend to become a laundry list

                                >of stuff a

                                person is expected to do, instead of a checklist that a team is responsible

                                >for looking

                                into.

                                 

                                I totally agree with you here because in the case I quoted above, the Manager took

                                upon himself to commit to aggressive deadlines and forcing team members to follow it

                                because it was an expectation set upon him (maybe by the organization or by himself).

                                 

                                Cheers

                                Pankaj

                                 

                                 


                                From: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Mary Poppendieck
                                Sent: Friday, July 11, 2008 3:07 PM
                                To: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: RE: [leandevelopment] Re: Lead Toyota Engineer Dies of Overwork.

                                Hi Robin,

                                I worked as a product champion for several years at 3M, and these were incredibly fun years.  My recollection is that on good teams, overload / overtime was something that the team members did to themselves due to their passion for the product they were developing.  I also do not see the product champion as an all-knowing all-powerful person - just a person with a vision that can excite passion in a team.  When I was product champion, I certainly never could do all of the things expected of even a product owner all by myself, but I did know how to get the right people on the team and get them engaged in the goal – so all of the necessary technical and marketing things happened. 

                                The problem with roles – ANY roles – is that they tend to become a laundry list of stuff a person is expected to do, instead of a checklist that a team is responsible for looking into.

                                Mary Poppendieck

                                952-934-7998

                                www.poppendieck.com

                                Author of: Lean Software Development & Implementing Lean Software Development

                                From: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Robin Dymond
                                Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 11:06 PM
                                To: leandevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: Re: [leandevelopment] Re: Lead Toyota Engineer Dies of Overwork.

                                I thought this was sad but interesting. The lean product development model that Toyota uses rolls the product owner, scrum master, and technical lead into one role, the chief engineer. Mary Poppendeick and I have been talking about how this leadership model might apply in software development too. The issue I have is that the Product Owner is already an overloaded role and an achilles heel for a scrum team. Adding the additional technical and process responsibilities has always struck me as being much too heroic, and not sustainable. It looks like that this may be the case.

                                Of course I don't have Toyota to blame for my 80 hour weeks, just my OC behavior in trying to be really good at doing lean agile and growing a consulting company. I know I am not the only one on this list who is not practicing sustainable pace... but I should... another opportunity.

                                Robin.


                                On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 5:20 AM, David Carlton <carlton@...> wrote:

                                On Thu, 10 Jul 2008 03:00:43 -0000, "Joseph Little" <jhlittle@...> said:

                                > PS. Is it fair to hold Toyota accountable for the mental health of
                                > every single one of its employees? Still, it may be true that this
                                > death is not just one incident, and that Toyota may be (partially)
                                > culpable.

                                Well, a Japanese labor bureau thought that it was fair to hold them
                                accountable in this case; do you see a reason to second-guess them?
                                It's certainly not the only story I've heard that makes me think that
                                the XP practice of Sustainable Pace isn't in complete harmony with
                                Toyota's practices.

                                David Carlton
                                carlton@...




                                --
                                Robin Dymond, CST
                                Managing Partner, Innovel, LLC.
                                www.innovel.net - www.scrumtraining.com
                                Ass't Producer, Learning and Education stage, Agile 2008

                              • Steve Freeman
                                I think I raised this issue on the list when the story first broke. There s so much we can learn from Toyota, but we also have to understand the context. The
                                Message 15 of 16 , Jul 12, 2008
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                                  I think I raised this issue on the list when the story first broke.

                                  There's so much we can learn from Toyota, but we also have to
                                  understand the context. The TPS cannot afford to be forgiving and
                                  requires a certain attitude and character from its staff to implement,
                                  there's a line (in Ohno's book, I think) about how it drove the
                                  manager of a supplier into breakdown. Similarly, one Chief Engineer
                                  (of the Prius?) moved a bed into his office to avoid wasting time
                                  going home. I expect this is easier in a company town where everyone
                                  knows how the game works and where people know they can rely on their
                                  employer absolutely.

                                  Those of us in the rest of the world have to learn how to apply the
                                  ideas in other cultures where, for example, we cannot remove quite as
                                  much waste because we cannot use unlimited overtime to cope with
                                  demand peaks.

                                  S.

                                  On 11 Jul 2008, at 00:49, David Carlton wrote:
                                  > On the one hand I agree. On the other hand, part of the context to my
                                  > response to this is seeing stuff like the following:
                                  > <http://www.evolvingexcellence.com/blog/2008/06/toyota-puts-peo.html>
                                  > It says that, in the heavy times at this particular Toyota plant, that
                                  >
                                  > "During full-production periods, when the plant is running 24-7,
                                  > employees work incredible amounts of overtime"
                                  >
                                  > but this is nonetheless demonstrating Toyota's "respect for people"
                                  > because, during the slow times, Toyota doesn't fire employees, instead
                                  >
                                  > "all employees work on becoming more efficient, brainstorming ways to
                                  > out-do their competition (they’ll bring in competitors cars and tear
                                  > them apart, looking for ways to improve their own vehicles), and all
                                  > become actively involved in seeking ways to save the company money."
                                  >
                                  > So, absolutely, you can quit your job rather than work huge amounts of
                                  > overtime. But if that's the company culture, then it's a part of lean
                                  > that I don't want to emulate.
                                  >
                                  > And (perhaps more relevant to this forum), it colors how I look at
                                  > parts of lean that I _do_ want to emulate. For example, if I'm
                                  > remembering correctly, the Poppendieck's books talk about how Toyota
                                  > always hits their product release dates, and how set-based design is a
                                  > big factor in that. And that may well be the case, and I'd very much
                                  > like to learn whatever I can from Toyota in that regard. But I
                                  > suspect that both set-based design and (perhaps seriously) overworking
                                  > people are factors in hitting their dates; I suspect that taking an
                                  > honest look at the latter factor in Toyota's success might give
                                  > insight into how effective set-based design may be, by giving us a
                                  > clearer picture into the evidence for that.



                                  Steve Freeman
                                  http://www.mockobjects.com

                                  Winner of the Agile Alliance Gordon Pask award 2006
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