Saturday, December 03, 2005

Agile Six Sigma - Holistic, Organic, Lean, Emergent

I've been reading bits and pieces about "Lean Six Sigma" for the past couple years. It seems a reasonable mix of Lean Production and the Principles of Lean Thinking with Six Sigma methods and the SEI's description of Six Sigma. Lately it seems to be getting abbreviated to "Lean Sigma"

More recently, I've been hearing about "Design For Six Sigma (DFSS)" and "convergences" between "Lean" and Goldratt's "Theory of Constraints" (TOC), and techniques like the "The 5 Focusing Steps", "Throughput Accounting" and "Drum-Buffer-Rope." (There was a nice ASQ article comparing Lean, Six Sigma, and TOC awhile back.)

So I wanted to be the first to try and coin the phrase "Agile Six Sigma" - except I'm not real fond of the resulting acronym, plus someone else might have come up with it already (if only in passing). So I wanted to embellish it a bit to create an even better acronym before I commence the marketing madness for my new "cash cow" idea. Thus I have decided upon:
    "Agile Six Sigma - Holistic, Organic, Lean, Emergent."
Seriously tho! I actually think there is a lot of GREAT stuff in and synergies between Agile, Lean, TOC, and Systems Thinking. I think DFSS has some useful tools in its toolbox. I'm less sure of the overall methodology for SixSigma being compatible with Agile methods -- tho I admit David J. Anderson has some GREAT articles that seem to show a connection, particularly the one on Variation in Software Engineering.

I am getting weary of lots of hype that simply throws these buzzwords together (hence my marketing slogan and acronym above :-) but I think they have a lot to offer, and I would be interested in applying them to CM.

I'm particularly curious about using the Lean tools of value-stream mapping along with TOC in analyzing anti-patterns and bottlenecks that often occur in building, baselining and branching & merging (since there seems to be a fairly direct correlation to "code streams" of "change flows" and a "value stream" or "value chain"). Has anyone already done this for CM? (I wonder if something like this could better substantiate the "goodness" of the Mainline pattern.)


Anonymous said...

This is the first instance I've seen where the acronym possibly describes those who does not apply the practice.

Huet Landry

Anonymous said...

I am working on putting these two practices together, though I am more focused on agile software development and lean flow as the best way to think about getting the truest and most relevant outcomes for putting new features and capabilites into production in a corporate setting.