Recently, a group of my LeanKit coworkers and I were talking Kanban. The age-old debate surrounding the definitions of lead time and cycle time came up, and we all rolled our eyes a bit. The Lean community has rehashed this topic a million times already, but it seems we still can’t seem to reach a consensus. The topic can be confusing to those new to Kanban, and unfailingly frustrates experienced practitioners. In this post, I’ll explain why these definitions are commonly debated. I’ll also explain how a simple definition can help you make the most of these Lean metrics.
At LeanKit, we have a very thorough process for quality assurance, but sometimes, issues with unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances (such as DNS providers, hosting services, etc.) can result in a critical issue affecting our software, which can have a significant impact on our users. This is why we choose to stop the line when critical issues arise — to stop, assess, and resolve the issue, and learn how to prevent it from occurring again.
We take these kinds of issues very seriously, since a relentless focus on delivering customer value is at the core of everything we do. Read to learn how we employ Lean concepts at the organizational level to tackle potential issues head-on, address them quickly, and use them as opportunities to make our product — and our people — stronger.
Inevitably, every process has a bottleneck: There is some step that has a lower capacity than the steps before or after it. This may be because there are fewer resources dedicated to performing this step, or because it requires more time to complete than the other steps in the process. Regardless, this bottleneck is the limiting factor for the capacity of your entire system.