Mary Poppendieck
Mary Poppendieck

The Aware Organization

The two pillars of Lean – Just-in-Time and Jidoka – have been discussed for many years, and by now we have a pretty good idea of what Just-in-Time means in software development. With Continuous Delivery moving to the mainstream – even for enterprise and embedded software – rapid flow of value through the development process is becoming routine. However, as software systems get larger and more complex, we may lose sight of what Jidoka has to offer. At its heart, Jidoka means that everyone is aware at all times of the state and progress of each flow unit in the system, sort of like a football team maintaining sharp awareness of the overall situation as a game unfolds. This talk is about what Jidoka, or situational awareness, means for groups developing large software systems.


Mary Poppendieck started her career as a process control programmer, moved on to manage the IT department of a manufacturing plant, and then ended up in product development, where she was both a product champion and department manager.
Mary considered retirement 1998, but instead found herself managing a government software project where she first encountered the word “waterfall.” When Mary compared her experience in successful software and product development to the prevailing opinions about how to manage software projects, she decided the time had come for a new paradigm. She wrote the award-winning book Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit in 2003 to explain how the lean principles from manufacturing offer a better approach to software development.

Over the past several years, Mary has found retirement elusive as she lectures and teaches classes with her husband Tom. Based on their on-going learning, they wrote a second book, Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash in 2006, a third, Leading Lean Software Development: Results are Not the Point in 2009, and a fourth book,The Lean Mindset: Ask the Right Questions in 2013. A popular writer and speaker, Mary continues to bring fresh perspectives to the world of software development.