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Keynote Presentations

  • Emulating Toyota: Be Careful What You Wish For! Don Reinertsen [ABSTRACT]

  • Exploiting the Power of Decentralized Control Don Reinertsen [ABSTRACT]

  • Lean Software Development/Lean Product Development: A Comparison Mary Poppendieck [ABSTRACT]


Don G. Reinertsen [BIO]
Reinertsen and Associates

Emulating Toyota:
Be Careful What You Wish For!

Many companies are trying to emulate Toyota's performance. Because they read that Toyota is a great company, they assume its financial performance is also impressive. This is a dangerous mistake. In this presentation Don Reinertsen will go over the surprising facts.

For example, one would assume that a lean company, with little waste and hard-working assets, would have a high return on assets. The surprising truth: Toyota's average return on assets during the period 1997 to 2006 was only 3.9 percent. In contrast, a highly capital-intensive semiconductor business like Intel returned 16.1 percent.

One would assume that financial markets recognize Toyota's management skill and bright future prospects. The surprising truth: Over last 10 years Toyota stock has underperformed the average stock in the S&P 500.

Although there are many useful things to be learned from Toyota, those who blindly copy Toyota face the risk of replicating its below average financial performance.


Don G. Reinertsen [BIO]
Reinertsen and Associates

Exploiting the Power
of Decentralized Control

Many companies assume that product development needs the same centralized control that has worked well in the repetitive world of manufacturing. We should prepare meticulous plans and create comprehensive information systems to quickly inform senior managers of deviations. These wise managers can develop clever responses and all variability will be vanquished.

There is powerful evidence that this approach is completely wrong for product development. For hundreds of years the Army attempted to deal with the uncertainty of war using planning and bureaucracy. It never worked. In contrast, the Marines have always emphasized decentralized control and initiative.

In this presentation, Don will examine what makes decentralized control work in environments of high uncertainty. He will discuss:

  • The critical need to respond to emerging obstacles and opportunities

  • How to prevent decentralization from turning into chaos

  • How decentralization changes many common management practices

  • The implications of these ideas for product developers


Mary Poppendieck [BIO]
Poppendieck LLC

Lean Software Development / Lean Product Development: A Comparison

Software development has a lot in common with product development: both involve bringing ideas to life through cycles of discovery. Great software, like any great product, stems from a deep understanding of a customer problem joined with a novel application of technology to solve that problem. But software has unique characteristics: you can’t see or touch software, and even the most complex software product has a manufacturing process as simple as creating distribution files and perhaps burning a CD.

This talk will compare and contrast Lean Software Development with Lean Product Development. It will discuss specific areas where the unique nature of software development leads to a unique set of development tools, such as:

Iterations: Develop a deployable product every two to four weeks.

Velocity: Determine capacity through the reliable performance of intact teams.

Test-Driven Development: Mistake-proof the development process.

Nested Synchronization: Replace big-bang integration with continuous integration.

In addition, the talk will discuss lean product development techniques that are highly relevant in a software development environment:

Queuing Theory: Long development cycle times are largely the result of uncontrolled demand coupled with failure to divide work into small batches.

Cross-Functional Teams: Teams that promote early, frequent information exchange across the technical and customer community are the basis of product integrity.

Mary Poppendieck has been in the Information Technology industry for thirty years. She has managed solutions for companies in several disciplines, including supply chain management, manufacturing systems, and product development. As a seasoned leader in both operations and new product development, she brings a practical, customer-focused approach to software development problems.

As Information Systems Manager at the 3M Hutchinson plant, Mary first encountered the Toyota Production System, which later became known as Lean Production. She was instrumental in implementing one of the early Just-in-Time systems in 3M, which resulted in dramatic improvements in the plant's performance. She subsequently led new product development teams, commercializing products ranging from digital controllers to 3M Light Fiber™.

A popular writer and speaker, Mary’s classes on managing software development offer a fresh perspective on project management. Her book Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit, was published in 2003 and won the Software Development Productivity Award in 2004. A sequel, Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash, was published in 2006.

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