With the subtitle of the article (Twice the Product in Half the Time) as a generic goal for industry, what is going wrong in today’s industrial environment? What stops or delays improvements in product delivery, despite embracing practices from Lean and Six Sigma? Why does it take years to get a new product out of the manufacturing plant? This article explores the “why” of this question and deep-dives into the solution.
What is the speed with which product launches really happen? The Tesla Model S was announced and prototypes were shown in 2007, and production started in 2012. Is 7 or 10 years a good estimate for the idea-to-launch time? Boeing’s Dreamliner was announced in 2003 and entered production in 2011, estimating the full cycle at 12 to 16 years. Lockheed Martin’s F35 started design in 1992 and entered production in 2018. Microsoft Xbox renews every 4 – 8 years. This long time between idea and production does not only affect new products like the Dreamliner, it also affects you when you respond to a competitor’s move: for example, when your car brand wants to launch an all-electric vehicle, you find yourself 5 – 10 years behind your competitor who has already launched such a vehicle. Shortening this time span is what the Industrial Agile Framework is all about.
by Peter Borsella & Hubert Smits – Big Orange Square LLC
Scrum is best known as a superior framework for delivering software. It may appear Scrum is rarely used elsewhere, but the future looks different. At Big Orange Square, we bring our 30 years of Scrum and Agile experience to a new domain — industry, where Lean practices, Six Sigma analysis, and decades of experience are established ways to deliver products. A sad point: few industrial organizations get their products to market on time, if at all. Or, they do so very slowly and with many problems. The Tesla saga is well known and a good example.
This series on Industrial Agile opens with an overview:
Is Scrum4HW really different from Scrum? (spoiler: no, it isn’t)
What is new in industry when agile principles are applied? And,
How do the different frameworks of Lean, Agile, Scrum, and Six Sigma fit together?
Is it really different?
Let’s start with Scrum – the heartbeat of the Industrial Agile Framework. At its core, it is no different than the heartbeat of any other Scrum product delivery environment. We both had some sore ears after being lectured by the co-creator of Scrum, Ken Schwaber, when we talked about “next Scrum,” or “special Scrum,” or “Scrum 2.0.” There is only one Scrum framework, and it is defined in the Scrum Guide. Ken is right, and that same Scrum framework is true in an industrial setting.
So what then is new in industry?
Scrum is upheld by two principles: empiricism and teamwork, so let’s hold these principles against industrial products. For example, we are working with a team that builds single board computers. However, it takes well over a year to develop this product. These boards end up in satellites or airplanes, so replacement of a faulty board is not an option. And, thousands of hours of burn-in tests are just one part of development. This is quite different from a software product! But, we can still apply empiricism and teamwork.
Under empiricism, knowledge is derived from experience. When something is too complex to plan in great detail with confidence, we begin with a high-level plan, execute a short cycle of delivery as soon as possible, and use the knowledge gained from that experience to course-correct the plan and determine what to execute next. Does this sound familiar? It should, since this is another way of describing a Sprint.
The crux of the definition of empiricism lies in the word “experience.” We learn by “experiencing” the work of the Sprint. By the end of the Sprint the customer should “experience” a “potentially releasable product increment.” How can the customer possibly experience something releasable in industry, for a single board computer?
This is where teamwork gets added to the mix. Small, cross-functional teams are responsible to deliver the product increment — the real thing, not a design or a document. If we were building a complex banking software system we’d proceed incrementally, delivering a function at a time: first the mortgage rate calculation, then mortgage risk assessment, etc. If we are building a circuit board, we deliver one piece of functioning product at a time: first the power lines, then the data lines, etc.
A circuit board designer we worked with didn’t understand that a board with just power lines can reveal very important information to colleagues. A board supplying power to a device gave others vital information about part placement, heat displacement, and other important aspects. Delivering something real allows us to learn more about the product as we proceed.
Compared to software, industrial delivery takes longer, is more complex, and requires a broader set of skills. These include: Designing the multiple parts of the machine (electronics, mechanics, enclosure, software, cooling, heating, plumbing, hydraulics); continuously physically integrating the parts; testing the parts and the whole; order the components (on time for manufacturing); design the manufacturing process; tool up for manufacturing; train people; optimize manufacturing; develop and equip service teams; and, supply them with the right spare parts while managing inventory. This is quite a challenge when thinking of the 7 +/- 2 team size recommendation!
However, by having the right team composition at the right time across the product development timespan, we can ensure empirical teamwork. For example, manufacturing is at the table from the very beginning, and product design is at the table at the very end, even if both are not full-time dedicated team members throughout.
How do existing frameworks fit?
How do you start with implementing the Industrial Agile Framework? Begin with what you know and is working for you — possibly Lean and Six Sigma, and capitalize on that. Lean provides tools like Value Stream Mapping, an excellent way to determine who needs to be on a team. Six Sigma helps us improve quality standards in support of a definition of “done.” Add to this elements of the Scrum framework: work in short cycles, meet daily, establish Product Owner and Scrum Master roles., etc. Most important, ensure proper leadership is in place to support the movement forward.
More to come…
So get started! In future columns we’ll be diving deeper into specific topics and present case studies as we proceed on this exciting journey towards industrial agility!
This will be a quick blog, but it hits at an incredibly important principle that we all need to think about when we’re trying to make our processes as effective as possible. For this to make sense, you’ll need to know Agile Principle #10. This principle is all about simplicity: the art of maximizing the work not done.
Peter and Hubert demonstrated this principle with pictures of the solar eclipse. Each one of them used different tools to do the same thing: see the total solar eclipse that passed over the United States on August 21st, 1017 from our training center in Longmont, CO.
Peter used a cereal box. It’s simple, and it worked. Using it, Peter was able to (safely) see the moon pass in front of the sun. The projected image was small and lacked detail, but it cost basically nothing.
Hubert is more sophisticated (or so he thinks), so he used a telescope. The picture is much larger and more detailed than the one through the cereal box, though the telescope was far more expensive than a box of cereal.
Consider value: if value is defined as having an amazing experience, is Hubert’s scope (with its substantial price tag) really worth it, or was simply being close enough to the path of totality to experience an incredibly rare and strange darkening of the sky for a few minutes all that was needed? If we want to study solar prominences, Peter’s cereal box really won’t give us enough data to even start, and for that matter, if we want to take it very seriously, is Hubert’s investment of the telescope even enough? As you can see, there are several ways to look at how this agile principle is important when thinking about your business. The eclipse is a great way for us to remember to do the most simple thing that could possibly work — not anything more simple.
We hope you had a great experience with the eclipse, both Peter and Hubert did! If you’ve been searching for a way to push your team to the next level through the application of agile/Scrum principles, contact us at Big Orange Square today. With training centers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Longmont, Colorado, we are ready to help your team embrace lean process improvements in software or industrial design. We guide your group through a number of projects where everyone actually gets hands-on to develop and create something. Time and time again, our clients have seen this kinesthetic learning yield great returns in process improvement and design time. Work with us and you’ll see how we can help you get “Twice the Product in Half the Time.™”
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I felt that this course provided a more tactical overview w/ hands-on learning than previous CSM courses. I am much more equipped to implement lessons learned now that I I have gone through this journey with Peter and Hubert. Thanks so much!
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By far, the best class I’ve taken this year. (CSM, ITIL, PMP) Very Practical application of the scrum framework using real world examples. Excellent teacher! Excellent class! Very knowledgeable.