Understand the software value chain by walking it
There’s no better way to understand something than by actually giving it a go. If you want to know what writing a particular programming language is like you need to try it. If you want to know what kung fu is like watching a video won’t help, you need to try it.
If you want to really understand the software value chain in your organisation drawing diagrams in an ivory tower isn’t going to help, you need to get out there and “Go and see”.
In Steve Handy’s blog on Scaling Software Agility he talks about applying some of the thinking from the Lean school of thought to “go and see”, observing the value chain by actually physically following it.
- Identify a new piece of work and follow it through the delivery chain
- Attend every meeting, track the activities and note how long it’s static.
- Don’t attempt to fix it during this period of observation, don’t criticise, just watch and learn.
I think there’s some real value here, there’s something quite simple and powerful about physically walking the walk of a piece of work through the software value chain. Doing so will make some problems, blockages and issues blindingly obvious – processes and organisational structures that seemed to make sense on someone’s bit of paper will just not make sense.
Experiencing the value chain in a very physical way promotes professional mindfulness and will clearly identify waste. I think this is a great way of putting common sense back in to software development.
I call this Go See, and it’s the most effective form of measurement for software development.