I am currently awash in confusion about how we (my team, but also everybody working on the same product) should improve. Tough stuff; I hope I’ll have something more coherent to say here soon. Fortunately, the good folks on the leandevelopment mailing list are helping me sort through my difficulties.

The fact that I’m so confused suggests that a top priority should be getting more visibility into the situation. If I’m taking a lean point of view, we need to eliminate waste, which means that we should make that more visible. (Red cards? Probably start by just listing forms and manifestations of waste.) If I’m taking a theory of constraints point of view, we need to focus on bottlenecks, which means we should make that more visible. (Maybe create a value stream map?)

The latter is where I started: how do I figure out if my team is the bottleneck? (Is there really only just one?) I have no idea; I can see the card piling up before my team, but I don’t really know what happens after the card exits my team. So I can’t tell where work is piling up.

I’ll try to find time over the next few days at work to create some wiki pages on waste and bottlenecks. One fun thing about work is that enough people are subscribed to the wiki notifications that, if you’re thinking about something, you can just create a wiki page on the subject and you’ll attract some random, insightful questions or comments.

Now does seem like a good time to think about this. On the one hand, there is reason to believe that executing efficiently now could be particularly useful. And on the other hand, my boss has too many direct reports, so some sort of reorganization there may happen over the next month or two. So, if I could actually think of something useful to inform the reorganization, with solid reasoning behind it, I might be able to have an effect.

One of the times when I’m happiest is when I’m wandering around in a confused daze. (Don’t get me wrong, figuring things out and getting things done has its pleasures as well.) But I do need to get some concrete outputs from my wandering.

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