How to break the Rules (Video)?

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Dan North gave a really interesting talk at last years GoTo Conference called How to break the rules.

He takes Eliyahu Goldratt 4 steps of how technology is adopted which he presented in a series of lectures he gave on why people didn’t take on his ideas of theory of constraints (TOC) from his book The Goal.

Eliyahu stated that organisation need to go through 4 steps before a new technology can be successfully adopted:

  1. What is the power of the technology
    • What does it do for you?
  2. What limitation does the technology diminish?
    • What will it make better
  3. What rules enable us to manage that limitation presently?
    • And how much are we wedded to those rules
  4. What new rules will we need?
    • For the technology to succeed

Dan than takes these 4 rules and applies them to real companies that either succeeded or failed to take advantage of new technologies. The interesting part is for the companies that failed what rules (part 3) they needed to break to make use of the new technology.

I’ve made my rough notes on the talk available below but I highly recommend watching it.

 


My notes from the talk:

Talks about The Goal (book) and Beyond the Goal – lectures by Goldratt

  • Series of lectures about 20 years after The Goal was released
  • He tries to attempt to explain why people didn’t apply his Theory of constraints successfully if at all.

First two lectures are: How to adopt Technology?

What is technology: The application of knowledge

For it to be adopted then answer these questions:

  1. What is the power of the technology
    • What does it do for you?
  2. What limitation does the tech diminish?
    • What will it make better
  3. What rules enable us to manage that limitation ?
    • How much are we wedded to those rules
  4. What new rules will we need?
    • For the technology to succeed
He then goes on to apply these questions to real companies.
  • MRP – first application of computers in a business situation
    • Calculated cost of materials for manufacture DuPoint
    • Which allowed them to ship faster then others
    • But when the competition tried it they couldn’t compete as to take advantage of the system you need to change the rest of your business
  • Goes on to apply to ERP and
  • Cloud computing (orgs moving to it)
  • But also Continuose delivery

Interesting: Dell becomes as big as it did because it could work in smaller batches then the competition . All the others companies offered you a fixed machine. Dell changed this by going online only and allowing you to customise your PC and could ship faster than the competition.

Swedish  saying: When talking to farmer use farmers words
  • Commenting on how we collaborate across divisions
  • If you want to collaborate successfully you need to either be speaking the same language or use words the other understands

A lot of organisations are failing with Agile/Kanban/Scrum etc because they still have all the exiting rules in place (see point 3 earlier).

To be able to adopt the new technology you need to move to the new rules (point 4) otherwise you’re still doing the same thing.

Used the example of Amazon not doing Cost accounting and moving to throughput accounting and flow of value

  • Cost accounting is what each department cost
  • Through put accounting is what is being produced by the department and what value does that provide

The problem with step 3 is that it eventually becomes the culture of the organisation and trying to unpick it then is really hard.

So How to break the rules?

  • Understand the power of technology
  • Recognise the limitation the technology will diminish
  • identify the existing rules we use to manage the limitation
  • Identify and implement the new rules

Summary

Another great talk from Dan and goes to show a lot of our problems in software development have been issues in other industries.

Not only that they have been solved  but we tend to overlook them as they don’t look like our industry. What has manufacturing  got to do with writing software? In all don’t take my word for it go watch the talk and start having a look at Eliyahu Goldratt body work. He was onto something…

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