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Re: Lead Toyota Engineer Dies of Overwork.

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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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