Mullins (2009) references Bertalanffy (1951) as the founder of Systems Theory, and General System Theory (GST), and refers to the business organisation as an open system, part of a broader environment with which the organisation is constantly interacting with.
Deming (1986) suggests that production should be viewed as a system, and to improve quality the whole system from the incoming materials to the consumer should be considered. In his 14 points for Management his 5th point states that the system of production should be constantly improved to increase quality, productivity and therefore decrease cost.
Ladis (2008) suggests that specifications (or requirements) that have not been implemented, designs that have not been reviewed and code that has not been tested and deployed, can all be considered inventory. He goes on to suggest a chain or system that is self-limiting, where teams should not build features which people do not yet need, or define more requirements than the team can code, or write more code than can be tested, or test more code than can be deployed into an environment where a user can use it.
Eisenmann (2013) presents Spolsky’s (2012) view of Software Inventory, where he describes items in a feature backlog which will never get implemented, therefore, the time taken to write down, define, design, think about and discuss those items can all be considered wasteful.
To improve the throughput of a system, Goldratt suggests starting with identifying the system’s constraint(s), then exploit (make the most of) and use the identified constraint as the control (or heartbeat) for the system. Then focus on increasing the constraint(s) capacity while being conscious of breaking other constraints in doing so.
Kanban is the Japanese word for billboard, sign and is more broadly used in lean manufacturing to mean a signal or tag. Ohno observed that by having each step in a system signal to the previous step when its inventory needed to be replenished, a pull process is created back through the system, which reduces the amount of inventory and the overall lead time of the system; the time it takes to realise value from the system’s input.
Mullins, L. (2009). Management and Organisational Behaviour, 8th edition, Pearson Educational.
Deming, W. E. (1986). Out of the crisis. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Center for Advanced Engineering Study, 6.
Ohno, T. (1988) Toyota Production System, Productivity Press
Ladas, C. (2009). Scrumban-essays on kanban systems for lean software development.
Eisenmann, T (2013) Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts & Spolsky, J (2012) Software Inventory
Goldratt, E. M., Cox, J., & Whitford, D. (1992). The goal: a process of ongoing improvement (Vol. 2). Great Barrington, MA: North River Press.