Just-In-Time PM #5: The Iron Triangle

In Part 4, I introduced the idea of “intermediate packets.” Instead of delivering value in a big project that spans huge amounts of time, we want to deliver it in smaller chunks at more frequent intervals.

This follows a basic principle that has revolutionized many industries: small batch sizes.

The Toyota Production System (from which the term “just-in-time” is borrowed) used small batch sizes to revolutionize manufacturing, increasing the throughput of its factories far beyond what anyone thought possible. The tools and methods developed to enable small batch sizes propelled the company through 7 decades of growth, transforming a small bicycle shop into the world’s largest automaker.

In software, small batch sizes took the form of continuous integration and deployment. Instead of releasing software updates in one massive push once a year, systems were designed to automatically integrate updates right into the existing codebase in small chunks, and even deploy them straight to end users. This practice has had a massive impact on the quality and speed of innovation of the apps we use today.

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