I must apologize to you all for the lag in this series. But being August, I was away on vacation. Interestingly, getting back is hard. You have to get back into the swing of things again to get up to maximum productivity. There's quite a bit of re-acquainting and relearning so there's waste for sure. However, I do feel I have more energy now since I am back so perhaps the waste is negated over time.
Motion - Task Switching
Waste #5 in manufacturing is defined as Motion. And motion can be compared to "task switching" in Software Development - as defined by the thought leaders applying Lean thinking to software development.
Task switching can be a big time waster. Studies have shown that if you're working on anything beyond two seperate and distinct tasks, your efficiency goes down drastically the more tasks you take on. The reason is quite obvious; working on software development tasks takes a lot of thought processing and task switching requires that your mind switch contexts all the time. Each time that you switch contexts, there's relearning and re-acquainting that needs to take place.
Additionally, if you are working on multiple tasks simultaneously, it's going to take you longer to complete the first and each successive tasks. If you storm the first task and get that out, you are delivering value to the customer much sooner.
It's important to be mindful of this. I have found in many organizations, especially software companies where there is a real casual atmosphere, it's easy to always interrupt developers. Interruptions are prevalent with requests. All this interruption only serves to add to the Motion bucket of waste. This is where the importance of a Product Owner, ScrumMaster and Backlog come in. These roles and any artifact are there to buffer the development teams from the noise and chaos outside of the current sprint activities.
If you're a good tough ScrumMaster, you'll see to it that priorities are all driven through the backlog and the Scrum process and that your teams are left to focus on distinct activities for maximum throughput and reduced overall cycle time in development.
Next week I will cover the 5th waste in the series - Waiting.