I used to work with a developer, an agile methodology evangelist, who would often tell me stories about agile methodologies applied to industries other than information technology. In a specific instance, I recall him telling me a story about a Japanese auto factory that implemented the LEAN methodology for manufacturing.
Basically the story was that anyone in the factory could stop the production line if they found an issue.
An interesting concept indeed. Today I read another article about Japanese Auto Production plant that only kept a few spare parts for issues encountered on the production line. If the production line ran out of spare parts, the entire line was shut down while new parts were ordered.
This idea drives an interesting behavior: no one single person wakes up in the morning and aspires to shut down the production line. In the automobile manufacturing plant it turns out that the vendors supplying the parts also did not want to be in the position of halting all production in the plant, so they simply shipped higher quality parts because higher quality was expected from them (this is known as the Pygmalion effect) and they know they would be held accountable.
One thing I have been doing recently at Microsoft is driving collaboration with Visual Studio Team Foundation server and helping spot issues with our developing products by integrating components more frequently and regularly. This provides a shorter feedback loop where we can address the issues sooner, rather than waiting until a big quality push at the end of the project, running out of time, and having to solve the issues with a service release.
The integration portions for VSTF come right out of the box–static code analysis to ensure a base level of code quality, automated builds with team build, greatly enhanced branching and merging capabilities to allow teams with multiple features to integrate frequently without being detrimental to the overall project progress, work item and issue tracking, et al.
In the not too distant future I will be posting more information regarding the business value of VSTS and VSTF (following my premier on Channel9) and what mindset changes need to occur to get the most value out of these great new tools that have shipped.