The Lamda Cycle

Allen Ward describes the model in his excellent little book titled The Lean Development Skills Book from 2002. You could say it´s a variant of PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) more suited for Product Development. It is simple and ingenious:

Look – Go look at the actual situation

Ask – Ask why you see what you see

Model – Create clear visual models

Discuss – Discuss them with all concerned parties

Act – Act on what you have learned

Look again – 

Repeating this cycle, again and again, is the basic mechanism of all learning, says Allen Ward.

Organizing a conference in the digital format

In these new times that the Corona virus is creating we can see a lot of interesting innovation going on. Everywhere we can see digital solutions appearing, some seem to be of the category “fast and wrong” and others seem very promising.

And what about our annual conference, LPPDE Europe 2020, planned for May 6th in Helsinki, Finland? When we realized we could not make a traditional conference we directly thought about going along and finding a digital solution. A digital solution, which you can access from your office or even from your home, might even be better now when the Corona virus is passing through all our lives.

So when we discussed if we should postpone the 2020 conference or run it digitally we asked ourselves “do we need to choose?”. “Let´s do both!” said Norbert Majerus. Let the digital conference be a preparation for the coming conference to enable even more knowledge Exchange!

Great, we announced the digital conference and started our conference development.

Running experiments with the LAMDA Cycle

OK, time to start our small Lean Product and Process development of our digital conference

First we discussed what knowledge gaps we had?

1) Which software to use?

2) How do we set up the agenda to make a good digital experience?

3) How do we make the presentations without spoiling the presentations for the physical conference?

3) How do we manage the workshop?

Let´s live as we teach: We used the LAMDA cycle, remember Look – Ask – Model – Discuss – Act!

During the experiments I worked closely with Juha Tammi from The Lean Association of Finland who were our partners in organizing the conference. We had good experience with Skype and Teams and had touched Zoom that was very promising. We decided to examine Zoom a bit closer.

Look: We summarized all we knew and defined some questions to observe. I downloaded the free version and sat down to explore. I started with a first agenda definition for our future discussions.

Ask: I scheduled a meeting with Juha, by Zoom of course, to explore together and ask him for his experiences with the software. We also ran through and challenged the agenda proposal. We summed up what we knew and some questions to study.

Model: We made an agenda specifying where to use different features of Zoom as well as the sequence of speakers. Some speakers were doubtful if it was going to work and gave us valuable input.

Discuss: We went through the different options and defined the need for a second round of experimentation. The speakers were asked to prepare a teaser to be presented on part of the original time (15min instead of 45min).

Act: We made our agenda and running plan version 0.1 and prepared for the next step: Look Again

Look: We signed up for some conferences and workshops to see more.

Ask: Speaking to the different organizers as well as participating in the events gave us valuable input and new knowledge.

Model: Agenda 1.0 was created with our newly won knowledge.

Discuss: The agenda was discussed with all speakers and other key people and found fitting the need.

Act: Agenda published and the digital conference was executed.


The Digital event

We ran the digital workshop as well as the conference with the expected result and we registered improvement possibilities for the next time we do a digital event.

We often talk about the Lamda cycle as a powerful tool to find and understand the knowledge gaps we have so it is always nice to use what we teach and this was a story of such case.

Look again – What did we observe during the digital workshop and conference

Ask – Ask why did that happen

Model – Create a visual model of what did happen

Discuss – Discuss with the organizing team and

Act – Create a better set up for next time… 


Peter Palmér

R&D Way Office Scania and former member of the board of LPPDE