Transforming to a Lean Methodology by Changing Team Member Mindset

I recently came across a paper entitled “Successfully transforming to Lean by changing the mindset in a global product development team” in the 2015 IEEE 10th International Conference on Global Software Engineering while preparing for one of my homework assignments. I thought the topic of the paper was interesting because most of what I have focused on up to now is technical and less management oriented. The paper focuses on how a large distributed group at Siemens Technology and Services Pvt. Ltd. struggled implementing a new operating methodology and how they improved their Lean processes by changing the mindset of their teams as opposed to just changing the team’s internal processes. The tools and techniques in the paper can be used to adopt any new operating methodology such as an Agile or Scrum.

Samanta and Mani, the authors of the article, estimate that effective enablement of Lean methodology depends 80 percent on culture and mindset, and only 20 percent on processes (Samanta & Mani, 2015, pp. 135-139). At the beginning of their process they decided to complete a small 3 month project with the Lean method. The project was successful so they implemented the changes across their global development team. After two years of the implementation they found that they gained several efficiencies and improved communication but they could not regularly have usable features completely finished on each takt (similar to a sprint in Agile).

After recognizing how adopting a Lean mindset could benefit the team, the managers decided to talk to the team members to identify what problems were limiting them with regard to the core principals (Samanta & Mani, 2015, pp. 135-139). The takt team speakers, Lean coaches, and senior management decided that they faced 6 challenges and took actions to overcome those challenges.

  • Employee empowerment
    • Challenge: They identified four items related to employee empowerment, but the most important is that team every team member had to feel empowered to raise a red flag when they see show-stopping problems arise as well as management had to learn to respect that red flags were raised for valid reasons and work to resolve the issue(s)
    • Action: Processes to escalate red flag issues; intensified training to ensure the processes as whole were understood as well as each team members individual role
  • Continuous improvement
    • Challenge: Changing mindset from ‘responsibility for a component’ to ‘responsibility for the whole product’
    • Action: Defect analysis involved cross-functional teams that allowed team members to understand the entire process, from the client’s workflows to development and systems engineering’s challenges
  • Quality is not variable, scope of each takt is
    • Challenge: Needed to understand that quality is not variable, scope of the work in each takt is variable
    • Action: Quality gates to ensure only code with acceptable quality is integrated into the system
  • Quality, Cost, Delivery
    • Challenge: Ensure each team member is aware of their role and responsibilities so they are fully accountable for the work they committed to in each takt
    • Action: Takt teams were given end-to-end responsibility for features
  • Synchronized processes
    • Challenge: Feeling accountable to synchronize their current status continually to keep everyone aware of the status
    • Action: Automation to ensure continuous integration; Status calls involved all key stakeholders to ensure synchronization at all levels
  • Usable software after teach takt
    • Challenge: Understanding that at the end of each iteration, all the committed results had to be integrated, tested and ready to release
    • Action: Competence in writing smaller user stories that could be implemented, tested, and delivered in a single takt by applying usage-centered design

(Samanta & Mani, 2015, pp. 135-139)

I would suggest reviewing the article in the journal to find more in depth actions that the management team took to implement Lean strategies to their team. After reading the article I understand that any change in the operations should have the employee’s mindset on board before implementing the changes themselves.

In the past I have had managers explain that organizational change is difficult, even if the change creates more efficient workflows. It was interesting to be involved in planning a technology change and seeing the feedback/pushback even though the change in question resulted in eliminating the need to remember an extra password. Now I can understand that the changes could be communicated differently and input can be requested from the team to find any limiting beliefs that may be underlying that causes friction with the change.

Works Cited

Samanta, U., & Mani, V. S. (2015). Successfully transforming to Lean by changing the mindset in a global product development team. 2015 IEEE 10th International Conference on Global Software Engineering, 135-139. doi:10.1109/ICGSE.2015.17