If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts!

If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts! – Albert Einstein

I think many of us put blinders on when we get a good idea and forget that well let me throw another quote out to you:

We don’t see things as they are, We see them as we are – Anais Nin

It’s funny since most of our ideas are not created in a vacuum. They come from some type of interaction, some type of problem, many times as we see it. So as we develop our ideas, we develop our products, early collaboration is the key. As that collaboration takes place the product evolves. Part of the reason that I believe that the software development field is leading this change is that they are the early adaptors. They also have taken one of the most difficult fields that had spawned individualism – “The Coder”  and made it a team environment – Agile, Scrum, Kanban.

This is one of Eric Reis’s theories in the Lean Startup methodologies. The all important “Pivot” maneuver that he discusses.  An excerpt from Eric’s blog:

In a lean startup, instead of being organized around traditional functional departments, we use a cross-functional problem team and solution team. Each has its own iterative process: customer development and agile development respectively. And the two teams are joined together into a company-wide feedback loop that allows the whole company to be built to learn. This combination allows startups to increase their odds of success by having more major iterations before they run out of resources. It increases the runway without additional cash.

What really strikes me is the obvious correlation to Deming’s or Shewhart’s PDSA (PDCA) cycle. From Wikpedia:

PDCA was made popular by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who is considered by many to be the father of modern quality control; however it was always referred to by him as the “Shewhart cycle”. Later in Deming’s career, he modified PDCA to “Plan, Do, Study, Act” (PDSA) so as to better describe his recommendations

The concept of PDCA is based on the scientific method, as developed from the work of Francis Bacon (Novum Organum, 1620). The scientific method can be written as “hypothesis” – “experiment” – “evaluation” or plan, do, and check. Shewhart described manufacture under “control” – under statistical control – as a three step process of specification, production, and inspection. He also specifically related this to the scientific method of hypothesis, experiment, and evaluation. Shewhart says that the statistician “must help to change the demand [for goods] by showing…how to close up the tolerance range and to improve the quality of goods”. Clearly, Shewhart intended the analyst to take action based on the conclusions of the evaluation. According to Deming, during his lectures in Japan in the early 1950s, the Japanese participants shortened the steps to the now traditional plan, do, check, act. Deming preferred plan, do, study, act because “study” has connotations in English closer to Shewhart’s intent than “check”.

dripA fundamental principle of the scientific method and PDSA is iteration – once a hypothesis is confirmed (or negated), executing the cycle again will extend the knowledge further. Repeating the PDSA cycle can bring us closer to the goal, usually a perfect operation and output.

As I look at the different methodologies and I can throw Six Sigma’s DMAIC, Boyd’s Loop and others into the circle, what’s new? The newness is in the collaboration, the team effort. The realization that no matter how good of a methodology you have, the key is still in gaining acceptance of others. Continuous Improvement is simply a team exercise and we don’t get there with one drop of water.  No matter how great the idea is, sooner or later you need water, you need help and without collaboration your theory holds little water.

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What happens when the factory goes away?

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