JIT Knowledge Creation

This content is syndicated from Agile & Business by Joe Little. To view the original post in full, click here.

This is our business. Just-in-time knowledge creation. (It is not just-in-time knowledge management.)

Why? And why is it so important?

Well, ultimately the answer is because people are important. Or maybe it is better to say we respect the customer. And the firm's shareholders.

What do I mean, you say?

Let's start from the beginning. A long time ago the Lean people discovered that any Work-In-Process waste (WIP) or inventory, is muda. No, they weren't being silly. All Lean firms still have some WIP and inventory, but they have been relentlessly reducing the ratio of WIP and inventory to sales for 50 years now. And now it is a very small fraction of what it used to be. And they are still not satisfied. It must be reduced more.

And why did they do that? Well, in the auto industry they realized that an unsold car in inventory is trouble. It can only get worse, it cannot get better. The sun can spoil the paint job. Rain can cause rust. Hail can damage the exterior. Time can make it go out of the current model year. In other words, they noticed that the car can decay. (There are other reasons too.)

In software development, our business is knowledge. In the form of working code.

How fast can our knowledge decay compared to a car?

And here we mean not only the final knowledge (the working code), but also all the other tacit and explicit knowledge needed in the course of building the working product.

My opinion, and I usually demonstrate this easily in each Scrum class, is that our knowledge decays exponentially faster than a car. And a car's value will only go down a bit at a time. But our knowledge can lose its value as much as 100% in one day.

So, although no one told you, we in the software industry need to be relentlessly reducing our all our work-in-process and inventory. So, WIP is any work we have done that has not resulted in finished inventory. Finished inventory is fully finished software, that is all but deployed and in use by the 'customer'.

Now, we don't mean you should be foolish. For example, there is a minimum marketable feature set concept that does apply. Although we think that the size of the MMFS is much smaller than we almost always want to believe.

Again, a key goal of how we organize things should be to minimize WIP and inventory. And because there are many reasons for that, we can also organize things to minimize the negative impact of the WIP and inventory we 'must' have. (We will talk later about some of the other negative impacts of WIP and inventory.)

We must have a greater percentage reduction in WIP and inventory than the auto industry. We have lots of work to do to make that happen. Lots of impediments to remove. It was hard for the auto industry, and it will be hard for us. And now we have made the first step -- someone has told you that is absolutely key to your job.

Now, you know what your job really is. To know and not to do, is not to know.

BTW, Takeuchi and Nonaka have written many many pages about knowledge creation. They are the godfathers of Scrum. (A hint, for those who want a hint.)

Leave a Reply

What is 10 + 3 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
Please do this simple sum so I know you are human:)

There are 101 ways to approach anything.
To find the best way, sometimes you need expert help

What People Say

“Kelly revolutionised the way our digital department operated. A true advocate of agile principles, he quickly improved internal communication within our teams and our internal clients by aligning our business and creating a much enhanced sense of transparency in the decisions the business was making. Kelly also introduced a higher sense of empowerment to the development teams...”

PETER SILVA-JANKOWSKI
IPC MEDIA

“Kelly’s a leading program director with the ability to take charge from day one and keep strong momentum at both a program and project level driving prioritisation, resourcing and budgeting agendas. Kelly operates with an easy-going style and possesses a strong facilitation skill set. From my 5 months experience working with Kelly, I would recommend Kelly to program manage large scale, complex, cross company change programs both from a business and IT perspective.”

LUKE SHARKEY /STRATEGY & IMPLEMENTATION LEADER
SUNCORP

“Kelly is an extremely talented and visionary leader. As such he manages to inspire all around him to achieve their best. He is passionate about agile and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear in this area. If you're 'lucky' he might even tell you all about his agile blog. Above all this, Kelly is great fun to work with. He is always relaxed and never gets stressed - and trust me, he had plenty of opportunity here! If you get the chance to work with Kelly, don't pass it up.”

GILES BENTLEY, DEVELOPMENT & OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
TIME INC

“Kelly is an Agile heavy-weight. He came in to assess my multi-million $ Agile development program which wasn’t delivering the right throughput. He interviewed most of the team and made some key recommendations that, when implemented, showed immediate results. I couldn’t ask for more than that except he’s a really nice guy as well.”

DAN PULHAM, DIGITAL DIRECTOR
TELSTRA

“Kelly and I worked together on a very large project trying to secure a new Insurer client. Kelly had fantastic commercial awareness as well as his technical expertise. Without him I would never had secured this client so I owe a lot to him. He is also a really great guy!”

GINA MILLARD
GLASS'S INFORMATION SERVICES

“Kelly came to the department and has really made a huge impact on how the department communicates, collaborates and generally gets things done. We were already developing in an agile way, but Kelly has brought us even more into alignment with agile and scrum best practices, being eager to share information and willing to work with us to change our processes rather than dictate how things must be done. He is highly knowledgable about agile development (as his active blog proves) but his blog won't show what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he is. I highly recommend Kelly to anyone looking for a CTO or a seminar on agile/scrum practices - you won't be disappointed!”

ANDY JEFFRIES/TECHNICAL LEAD
IPC MEDIA

“Kelly was a great colleague to work with - highly competent, trustworthy and generally a nice bloke.”

HANNAH JOYCE
GLASS'S INFORMATION SERVICES

“Kelly was engaged as a Program Director on a complex business and technology transformation program for Suncorp Commercial Insurance. Kelly drew on his key capabilities and depth of experience to bring together disparate parties in a harmonised way, ensuring the initiate and concept phases of the program were understood and well formulated. Excellent outcome in a very short time frame. ”

BRUCE WEIR/EGM
SUNCORP

“I worked with Kelly on many projects at IPC and I was always impressed with his approach to all of them, always ensuring the most commercially viable route was taken. He is great at managing relationships and it was always a pleasure working with him.”

BEATRIZ MONTOYA/CONSUMER MARKETING DIRECTOR
IPC MEDIA

“I worked with Kelly whilst at Thoughtworks and found him to be a most inspiring individual, his common-sense approach coupled with a deep understanding of Agile and business makes him an invaluable asset to any organisation. I can't recommend Kelly enough.”

PETER THATCHER, SENIOR ACCOUNT DIRECTOR
ThoughtWorks

“Kelly was a brilliant CTO and a great support to me in the time we worked together. I owe Kelly a great deal in terms of direction and how to get things done under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thanks Kelly.”

JULIE PEEL
GLASS'S INFORMATION SERVICES