Masa K. Maeda


Masa K. Maeda is a Senior Consultant with Cutter's Agile Product & Project Management Practice. He has 23 years of experience in the USA, Japan, and Mexico. Read more ...

Dec 212011
An Ever-Growing Focus on Value, Quality and Innovation

Last year I predicted that 2011 was to be the beginning of a shift from a focus on quality, schedule, and budget to value, quality, and innovation. Presentations at diverse conferences around the world show that there is an increasing interest in value and quality, and to some extent, innovation, too. The interest in value and quality was boosted in part by Jim Highsmith’s Agile Triangle (see Jim’s webinar Measuring Agile Performance: Beyond Scope, Schedule and Cost Webinar and his book Agile Project Management, 2nd Edition). A few months after Jim’s book came out in 2010, I published the first version of the Lean–Agile Prism in the Agile Journal, where I added design as a Read more

Feb 282011

Kanban has become the hot topic of discussion amongst the IT community since 2010, due to its accelerated rate of adoption and remarkable impact on organizations — from the few-employee company to the tens-of-thousands-employee company — where it has been adopted despite its young age. This fast pace is both good and bad, Kanban is benefiting organizations when adopted properly, but there is a risk of doing it wrong by rushing an adoption without fully understanding it. For example, people frequently ask if Kanban is a methodology for software development, or for software maintenance, or for project management, or a systematic approach to cultural change in the organization, or something else. Another frequent question is Read more

Dec 062010

I recently worked on Kanban adoption with a new customer, who informed me that Kanban was already underway and wanted me to help finish the adoption. On the first day, I was taken to the Kanban boards, two of them, and was introduced to the 15-person team. I noticed right away that the Kanban boards lacked a good number of essential elements to be considered an actual Kanban board, such as explicit policies and well-defined classes of service. Furthermore, the boards were not for separate projects. One was for the development phase; the other for the test phase. Also, the adoption work was delayed by a month because a key person (the champion) wasn’t available Read more

Dec 032010

Under pressure from the continuing economic crisis, enterprises are struggling to maintain their level of competitiveness, or even remain in the market. What has been considered key to success will begin to shift, from the search for effective methodologies to the realization that innovation and value are the most important differentiators for success. For many years, enterprises have considered effective management of scope, schedule, and budget as the key to success. This has been proven over and over to be incorrect. (Just ask the professionals you know. How many projects have they been involved with where scope, schedule, and budget were really effectively managed?) Furthermore, there are projects that accomplish this goal and still do Read more

Nov 162010

What do you think about variability? Let’s say you get a new job offer and the organization you would lead continually deals with variability. Would you take the job? Most people would answer “No,” because stability is better, right? Donald G. Reinertsen has conducted surveys showing that 65% of product developers want to eliminate as much variability as possible. I would imagine that IT executives and managers might want this even more. After all, that is why they approve the adoption of such governance as Six Sigma or PSP/TSP. One problem with this is that variability is handled entirely as a negative aspect that needs to be eliminated. The fact is we cannot get rid Read more

Oct 292010

It was a dark and stormy day when it dawned on the project manager. Many full moons ago a new project was planned and leaders established a firm deadline (how ironic!). Technical people slaved day after day and night after night in their cubicle-shaped dungeons, under the promise of succulent bonuses if they worked like zombies until they closely resembled the real ones. Unflinchingly they coded away not knowing if ’twas day or night or dusk or down, unaware of the many little creepy creatures their code was creating. But one night, right before down the bugs started coming out of nowhere and from everywhere. And leaders spoke: “Let the little creatures be, for what Read more

May 042010

Whenever the topic of quality assurance (QA) over a project is brought to a conversation, testing is the first thing to come to most people’s minds. QA actually goes far beyond just testing code. In any case, being test centric can become more effective from the standpoint of QA at the project level if we expand our view of testing by taking the following five considerations: Test the software development process. A fundamental part of continuous improvement is to mature the software development process, whether or not you are using an agile or lean methodology. If you plan a development strategy and stick to it instead of adjusting it to become more effective over time Read more