Greetings! As the president of the LeanSSC, I love meeting and being part of connecting the most innovative thinkers in all of systems and software thinking. They combine the best of Lean Thinking with ideas from such diverse fields such as Complexity Theory, Systems Engineering, Information Theory, and the General Theory of Innovation. Kanban for knowledge systems is an early fruit of this ferment; many others are underway.
I am a “parallel entrepreneur” (I can’t sit still long enough to be “serial”!), and have founded several companies designed to make the world a better place through better systems both technical and social. This inclination naturally connected me with the other founders of the LeanSSC, so we started the Consortium in 2009.
What do I bring to the LeanSSC?
The short answer is, an interest in virtually everything in the world that makes life better for human beings. That includes the arts, sociology and psychology, mathematics, physics, engineering (including software and systems), and many other fields.
My work has always been to find the best thinking in several fields and synthesizing those ideas into something new and better. That, in essence, is also the charter of the LeanSSC. So my inclination and background have prepared me for this role. For instance, as the Chief Software Architect for several large aircraft programs beginning in the 1980s, I combined a number of Lean ideas with progressive ideas in software engineering such as those of Dr. David Parnas (which are still valid, and many are still neglected to this day). The resulting development processes and product design approach allowed these programs to radically reduce defects and increase productivity…eventually by factors of ten and four respectively. One program in particular experienced such challenging external circumstances that the productivity increase was credited with saving the program.
When I documented these approaches and results in my book “Lean Software Strategies,” co-authored with Dr. Peter Middleton, it went on to win the 2007 Shingo Prize (called the “Nobel Prize of Manufacturing” by Business Week Magazine). Similar work done in systems engineering subsequently led to my receiving the “Expert Systems Engineering Professional” certification from the International Council on Systems Engineering…one of 50 awarded worldwide to date.
The Board and I are working to keep the best thinking from many fields flowing into the Consortium. Recent inputs I’ve helped obtain have come from such luminaries as Dr. Barry Boehm, Dr. David Snowden (“Cynefin” originator and Complexity Theory guru), and Greg Yezerzky (creator of the General Theory of Innovation, based on his study of TRIZ with its originator Genrich Altschuller). We are bringing in additional breakthrough thinkers from within software, systems, and yet more outside fields to benefit our fields and members in the coming year.
Why did I got involved in the LSSC?
It was the natural next step in the path I was already on. There is only so much improvement one can bring about within a single company (which was my level of involvement at the time). Helping found the Consortium meant that many more people, in many more companies, could accelerate the improvement in systems development and also benefit from it.
What do I hope the LSSC will achieve?
I have a personal mission to reverse the accelerating shrinkage of the middle class…which is damaging our main engine of economics, and is one of the biggest social issues of our time. The LeanSSC is in a unique and highly-leveraged position to help with this. If knowledge-work businesses like software and systems development become more productive, better aligned to the needs of their customers, and produce higher-quality systems, middle-class jobs such as development and support tasks will also increase. Outsourcing is one of the main reasons for this shrinkage. However, outsourcing is based on the obsolete (as it is normally used) Unit-Cost Equation. Statistical studies have shown that outsourcing these jobs is no magic potion: While it can occasionally work in specialized situations, it usually makes things worse (an average of 80% worse on quality and 25% worse on productivity).
The LeanSSC is providing a commons for the brightest minds from many fields to come together and develop synergistic approaches that improve productivity and quality. This strengthens businesses and gives them tools to make better business decisions. This benefits everyone involved…especially the middle class.