Kanban and the New New Product Development Game

One of the primary origins of Scrum is “The New New Product Development Game” by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka, published in the Harvard Business Review in 1986.  This is the article in which the contrast is made between a traditional sequential or “relay race” approach and a holistic or “rugby” approach. Hence  the name Scrum was derived.  As part of their explanation of the differences between the approaches, the authors describe three types of approach:

  • Type A – single phases, proceeding exactly sequential
  • Type B – single phases, overlapping at their borders
  • Type C – multiple phases, overlapping each other

Phase Types

The Type C diagram was in my mind when I was putting together the diagrams towards the end of The Anatomy of an MMF, and I think this approach actually describes a Kanban based approach pretty accurately, where we recognise and allow phases to exists as necessary, but at the same time encourage whole team collaboration.

Jeff Sutherland has also reinterpreted the classifications to describe how Scrum’s Sprints progress:

  • Type A – single Sprints, proceeding exactly sequential
  • Type B – single Sprints, overlapping at their borders
  • Type C – multiple Sprints, overlapping each other

Another way of describing this evolution could be to say that Type C is multiple, overlapping MMFs, where each MMF is variable length and not time-boxed.  Its worth noting that The New New Product Development Game makes no mention of time-boxes!

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4 comments on “Kanban and the New New Product Development Game

  1. That is too awesome. It’s been so long that I read that paper that I forgot how much bullshit had been added by the CSM crowd.

    No timeboxes. No Scrummasters. Overlapping phases. “Division of labor works well in a Type A system.”

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