This years Lean Software and Systems Conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, CA between the 3rd to the 6th of May. This was an interesting conference and quite different from other international conferences I have attended in the past like TechEd and MEDC. This conference vas much smaller and much more intimate. I think we where something like 280 attendees. The breath of topics was large as you can see on this tracks listing:
- CMMI and Multi-Modal Processes
- Lean Management
- Lean Product Development
- Lean/Kanban at Large Scale
- Media and Games
- Systems Design
- Systems Engineering
My focus was to attend as much as I could of the Visualization, Lean Product Development and CMMI and Multi-Modal Processes tracks. I was also scheduled to do a demonstration of Visual WIP in the tools showcase. Due to pore planning and advertisement the tools showcase was moved so I missed out on some very interesting sessions but I eventually got the opportunity to show Visual WIP during two demo sessions.
Most of the keynotes was outstanding. I especially enjoyed Chet Richards
Fundamental Secrets of the Universe where he talked about John Boyd and the OODA loop.
I think the session I enjoyed most was “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wall – Visual Management and Gemba Walks” (link to blog with slides) by Inbar Oren. Inbar talked about what management want to see and the concept of Gemba Walks. The Gemba walks concept is nothing new to me but the presentation really reminded me why and how it can be done in an Agile/Kanban setting. Very well done Inban. If you are interested in learning about Gemba walks Inban recommended the book Gemba Walks by James P. Womack.
As I have a very small stake in the game of Kanban tools I was especially interested in what Russell Healy had to say about The Future of Kanban Tooling. Russell’s message was that the next generation tools had to be more flexible and more like free design surfaces where the processes could be visualized and at the same time collecting the appropriate data with as little effort as possible. He also pointed out the importance of multiple context dependent views of the same data. He showed these ideas by showing a prototype of his product under development. I think many of the concepts and ideas presented are already in my tool Visual WIP so I was very pleased.
In the the tools showcase Rodrigo Yoshima showed a demo of the upcoming tool FlowKaizen where he uses QRCode to capture where work is on the board by uploading pictures to FlowKaizen. This looks to be an interesting tool. I just hope he will make it possible to export the captured data to other tools.
Other extra interesting sessions I attended where:
- Cost of Delay, How to Get It, How to Use It by Don Reinertsen
- Memes for Work Visualization in Kanban Boards by Alisson Vale
- Visualizing Kanban System Archetypes by Karl Scotland
I also attended these sessions:
- Learning to be LEAN at SRAM by Tim Smith
- Beyond Lean Value Streams: A Systems Approach by Frode Odegard
- Multisensory Kanban: why be limited to visual signals? by D. Andre Dhondt, Ravindar Gujral
- Managing and Visualizing Non-linear Workflows using a Kanban Matrix by Gerard Meszaros
- Kanban in a CMMI ML3 Environment by Andrea Pinto, Felipe Furtado
- CMMI, the road to credible evolution within a large corporation by Richard Hensley
I also attended two panels that I didn’t get anything useful out of:
- Panel: Do we really mean Lean? with James Sutton, Don Reinertsen, Bill Dettmer, Benjamin Mitchell, Alan Shalloway, David J. Anderson
- Panel: Can Lean Cross the Chasm to Mainstream? with Janice Linden-Reed, Dennis Stevens, Alan Chedalawada, David Joyce, Robert Charette, Alisson Vale
I have never understood when people has said that the best with this and that conference was the hallways. Now I understand. I had some very interesting and rewarding discussions in the hallways, at lunch, at dinner and at the informal evening events during the week. Thank you all for new and deepened insights and new friends ships.
Thank you Carol Dekkers for the great trip to the brewery!
When there is a Lean Coffee nearby I will attend if I can. I attended two great Lean Coffee sessions and just love the format.
I think the execution of the actual conference could have been done a little bit better. The scheduling mishaps with the tools showcase and the lack of focus on the open space could have been avoided.
It is great with lots of speakers with different backgrounds but some of the speakers where very inexperienced as speakers and could have done much better with some speaker coaching.
The venue was great except that the open space and the tools showcase was so far away form the rest of the action.
I think it was a good conference bordering to great. Will absolutely try to make it next year.