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What is Lean?
Businesses in all industries and services, including healthcare and governments, are using lean principles as the way they think and do. Many organizations choose not to use the word lean, but to label what they do as their own system, such as the Toyota Production System or the Danaher Business System. Why? To drive home the point that lean is not a program or short term cost reduction program, but the way the company operates. The word transformation or lean transformation is often used to characterize a company moving from an old way of thinking to lean thinking. It requires a complete transformation on how a company conducts business. This takes a long-term perspective and perseverance.
A second ongoing controversy, within the lean community itself, concerns how closely lean thinkers should follow Toyota practices. This is a tricky subject because on the one hand Toyota is the inventor of lean and is well ahead in both knowledge and experience but, on the other hand, why would methods invented by a Japanese auto manufacturer apply anywhere else? In fact, this debate rests on the assumption that Toyota is a monolithic company with a single unified practice. In actual terms, Toyota has changed considerably from its 1970s roots and is now a global company with hundreds of sites across all continents – no two sites are alike and although there are similar principles at work, local practices vary considerably from site to site. No one comes out of any conversation completely unchanged and, for instance, in talking to GE one comes back GE-fied as in talking to Toyota, one comes back Toyota-fied, so to speak. This debate is thus vital for the lean movement as confronting Toyota practices, such as they are here and there, to other environments is the starting point of lean thinking. In this respect, “how much like Toyota thinking should lean thinking be?” is a question without an answer that merits constant, case by case consideration.
Lean software development
One of the healthy ways towards integral architecture is refactoring. As more features are added to the original code base, the harder it becomes to add further improvements. Refactoring is about keeping simplicity, clarity, minimum number of features in the code. Repetitions in the code are signs of bad code designs and should be avoided. The complete and automated building process should be accompanied by a complete and automated suite of developer and customer tests, having the same versioning, synchronization and semantics as the current state of the System. At the end the integrity should be verified with thorough testing, thus ensuring the System does what the customer expects it to. Automated tests are also considered part of the production process, and therefore if they do not add value they should be considered waste. Automated testing should not be a goal, but rather a means to an end, specifically the reduction of defects.
c.1200, from Old English hleonian “to bend, recline, lie down, rest,” from Proto-Germanic *khlinen (cf. Old Saxon hlinon, Old Frisian lena, Middle Dutch lenen, Dutch leunen, Old High German hlinen, German lehnen “to lean”), from PIE root *klei- “to lean, to incline” (cf. Sanskrit srayati “leans,” sritah “leaning;” Old Persian cay “to lean;” Lithuanian slyti “to slope,” slieti “to lean;” Latin clinare “to lean, bend,” clivus “declivity,” inclinare “cause to bend,” declinare “bend down, turn aside;” Greek klinein “to cause to slope, slant, incline;” Old Irish cloin “crooked, wrong;” Middle Irish cle, Welsh cledd “left,” literally “slanting;” Welsh go-gledd “north,” literally “left” — for similar sense evolution, see Yemen, Benjamin, southpaw).