CVA or NVA – Overproduction or Overengineering – 2

Over production or over engineering are considered a non-value add and a waste. When we try to add unnecessary steps to a process or make it more complicated than it is required we are creating more chances of creating defects in our work.

Photo Courtesy: Stephen w morris

A few examples are

  1. Having too many slides in a presentation. You loose the audience and are unable to get the right message across.
  2. Too many and too long reports – are you sending reports that take just too long to create and no one really looks at it? Then maybe its time to stop doing it.
  3. Creating too many copies of a report – are you customizing the report so much that you are creating multiple copies. Then look at how you can combine them. The more copies you have the more place you have to make updates where there are changes and the higher the likelihood of creating defects.
  4. Rewriting steps of a test cases – Are you writing the same steps several times in several places? If yes then try to create a test that can be called often. This will save a lot of maintenance time.
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6 Responses to CVA or NVA – Overproduction or Overengineering – 2

  1. james bach says:

    I recommend to think twice before telling us the overproduction is a bad thing. (Notice that “thinking twice” is a form of overproduction.)

    Do you feel that people should not check their work? (Checking work is overproduction.)

    Do you believe we should not test? (Any test that does not find a bug could, in retrospect, be called a waste of time. And yet we do not say that the was necessarily a waste.)

    Have you ever been part of a brainstorm. Did it seem like a waste of time to put up ideas that may not go anywhere? (More overproduction.)

    Curiosity means learning things you don’t need to know. (Overproduction of learning.)

    Gallumphing is a form of test execution whereby irrelevant actions are thrown in among relevant ones. We do this in order to take advantage of the Law of Requisite Variety to find unanticipated problems. (And yet it’s a process of knowingly over-producing your test steps.)

    In the Exploratory Skills and Tactics Guide, we put “Overproduction” as a necessary tactic for exploratory testing.

    Nature uses overproduction. Life itself is not possible without overproduction. The reason you have fingers that aren’t webbed is because your body produced a lot more cells than it needed in your hand and then killed off the ones that weren’t need for the fingers. (See “Death by Design”, a wonderful documentary about overproduction and destruction in nature.)

    Overproduction, plus inheritance, variation and natural selection, are the four parts of Darwinian theory.

    Please, Shilpa. You are speaking of only one side of a two-sided issue. You said the words “…are considered a non-value.” Who considers it such? Not me. I consider the context of overproduction before I decide it’s bad.

    — James

  2. shillu13 says:

    Thanks for the comment James. I agree there is some boundary where over production is really not over production but a value add. For example lean six sigma has cost of conformance and non-conformance concepts. If testing is part of conformance its value add. Eg a developer just codes and does not do unit testing, and our testing time is spent on stuff that could have be easily caught by unit testing then that testing, defect fix, rework loop is really cost of non-conformance. They are not doing their job and making us do over production work. In the over all big picture we are chasing these bugs and dont have time for really breaking the system or find those bugs that hurt the customer most.

    Testing over all and the ones that dont find bugs are really cost of conformance and wont be part of non-value add. Its what the business pays for – a product that meets customer requirements.

    Innovation is another piece which requires over production. And without innovation there really wont be growth and brainstorming, etc are important for that.
    What I really was focusing on we dont have to create waste by over production just because we can. There are small small places where we can really eliminate over production.

    If a person spends 4 hours a week to create a report because he/she has to look at several systems and then formats and creates custom report based on the audience which in turn causes a few defects. Also if there is a defect they have to spend the time to fix it in several places shouldn’t think about how to simplify it?

  3. james bach says:

    What would be helpful to me, and others I bet, would be to hear your views on how you tell the difference between valuable overproduction and the wasteful kind.

    I don’t think it’s easy to say. Do you think the people doing useless work are saying to themselves how useless it is? (Well, sometimes they are saying that. But often their management thinks the work is important.) Something may seem wasteful today, but turn out well, tomorrow.

    The Vasa was a ship built in Stockholm that immediately sunk, just a few minutes after it was launched. It was definitely a waste… On the other hand, it was excavated from mud hundreds of years later and now is the center of one of the most beautiful museums of the world, in my opinion. The people who built it didn’t think of it as a time capsule, but the people of today appreciate it as such. From one point of view it was bad, from another point of view it was good. This happens in our engineering work, too.

    Sometimes from waste comes excellent learning.

    I have not read much of your work yet. Still, I have an impression that you are a woman of insight. I’m hoping to see multi-dimensional analysis from you; systems thinking; something that goes beyond the hearsay and folklore that satisfy most other people. So, keep at it.

    — james

  4. shillu13 says:

    Thanks James for your follow up. Some of these concepts are new to me. I am trying to learn about ways to be more efficient and be innovative at the same time. I see waste (like the busy work you mentioned) and also have done some of these things to keep management happy. But after a while I just could not take it and went in search of options. I didn’t want to go to management or my colleagues for that matter to say what you are doing is wrong or making me do wrong. I want to be able to go in with ideas and suggestions to say here lets try this way or that way.

    I am sure innovation happens where people find a need or a gap. I am on a journey right now to find answers. Some of what I write is very relevant to what I see and do and my search for answers.

    And people like you motivate me to go beyond my comfort zone. Thank you this really gives me a lot to think about.

  5. shillu13 says:

    James I changed the title a little bit. I started the series here on customer value add and my next few posts were going to expand on the categories. My goal is that every time we do a task we should ask if it adds value to the customer. After all its all about the customer in the end and what they are willing to pay for. (This is purely product perspective)

  6. Pingback: Its All About Customer Value Add | Today's Big Picture

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